The Dark Crystal is a 1982 puppet-animated dark fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. It stars the voices of Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell, Billie Whitelaw, Percy Edwards, and Barry Dennen. The film was produced by ITC Entertainment and The Jim Henson Company and distributed by Universal Pictures. The plot revolves around Jen, a Gelfling on a quest to restore balance to the world of Thra and overthrow the ruling Skeksis by restoring a powerful broken Crystal. It was marketed as a family film, but was notably darker than the creators’ previous material.The animatronics used in the film were considered groundbreaking for its time, with most creatures, like the Gelflings, requiring around four puppeteers to achieve full manipulation. The primary concept artist was fantasy illustrator Brian Froud, famous for his distinctive fairy and dwarf designs. Froud also collaborated with Henson for his next project, the1986 film Labyrinth. The Dark Crystal was produced by Gary Kurtz, while the screenplay was written by David Odell, with whom Henson previously worked as a staff writer for The Muppet Show. The film score was composed by Trevor Jones. The film received mixed reviews from mainstream critics; while being criticized for its darker, more dramatic tone in contrast to Henson’s previous works, it was praised for its narrative, aesthetic, and has since garnered a cult following.
A prequel television series, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, premiered on Netflix in 2019.
Plot- A millennium ago on the planet Thra, two new races appeared when a shard was shattered from the Crystal of Truth: the malevolent Skeksis whose continued corruption of the Crystal to extend their lives ravaged Thra, and the gentle urRu, more commonly known as the Mystics, who made their home in the Valley of Stones to await for their destiny. The leader of the urRu, the Master UrSu, raised a young Gelfling named Jen whose clan were slaughtered by the Skeksis. As the Great Conjunction of Thra’s three suns draws near, a dying UrSu instructs Jen to fulfill a prophecy to heal the Crystal by first retrieving the Shard from Aughra. As UrSu passes, the Skeksis’ Emperor, SkekSo, also dies, leaving the position for the leader vacant. The Skeksis Chamberlain, skekSil, and the General, skekUng, challenge each other to a duel of succession, which results in skekUng defeating skeksil in a ”Trial by Stone”. SkekSil is stripped of his robes and exiled, while skekUng is proclaimed the Skeksis’ new emperor. When the Skeksis learn of Jen’s existence, they send their army of giant crab-like Garthim to capture him, with skekSil following. Jen meets Aughra and enters her orrery, which she uses to predict the motions of the heavens as she explains about the Conjunction before having Jen select the Shard from a box full of shards. Aughra was about to explain Jen’s mission before the Garthim arrive and destroy the orrery, taking Aughra prisoner as Jen flees. Hearing the call of the Crystal, the urRu leave their valley to travel to the Skeksis’ Castle. On his journey through the swamp, Jen meets Kira, another surviving Gelfling who can communicate with animals. The two learn more about each other when they accidentally ”dreamfast”, seeing into each other’s memories. They stay for a night with the Podlings who raised Kira, only for them and Kira’s pet Fizzgig to flee when the Garthim raid the village. They are nearly caught by one of the Garthim, but skekSil intervenes by stalling it in its tracks, effectively keeping the Garthim from pursuing them. Jen and Kira discover a ruined Gelfling city with ancient writing describing a prophecy: ”When single shines the triple sun, what was sundered and undone shall be whole, the two made one by Gelfling hand or else by none.” They are interrupted by skekSil, revealing the prophecy was the reason for the Gelfling genocide while trying to trick them into coming with him to the castle under false pretenses. But the Gelflings run off and reach the Castle of the Crystal on Landstriders, intercepting the Garthim that attacked Kira’s village. While trying to free the captured Podlings, Kira, Jen, and Fizzgig descend to the bottom of the Castle’s dry moat and use a lower-level entrance to gain access. But they are intercepted by skekSil, who once again attempts to convince the Gelflings to come with him, even attempting to drag them there when they refuse him further. Jen stabs skekSil’s hand with the crystal shard in defiance, and skekSil, in a fit of rage, buries Jen in a cave-in and takes Kira to the Skeksis. skekSil is reinstated as Chamberlain while giving Kira to the Skeksis’ Scientist, skekTek, to be drained of her life essence for skekUng to drink so that he can regain his youth. Aughra, imprisoned in the Scientist’s laboratory, tells Kira to call for help from the captive animals; they break free in response and free Kira while causing skekTek to fall down the crystal shaft to his death. The very moment of skekTek’s death his urRu counterpart, urTih, vanishes in a burst of flame. Aughra frees herself soon after Kira left and before Jen arrived. The three suns begin to align as the Gelflings reunite at the Crystal Chamber as the Skeksis gather for the ritual that will grant them immortality. Jen leaps onto the Dark Crystal but drops the shard, with Kira taking it after Fizzgig is knocked down the crystal shaft by skekUng (he is saved by Aughra shortly after). Kira throws the Shard back to Jen as she is fatally stabbed from behind by skekZok, the Skeksis’ Ritual-Master, and an enraged Jen inserts the Shard into the Crystal, fulfilling the prophecy. The Garthim disintegrate and the Podling slaves regain their essence while the dark stone covering the Castle crumbles away to reveal a crystalline structure. The urRu arrive and use the Crystal to merge themselves and the Skeksis into the beings they once were: the tall, glowing, and angelic urSkeks. The urSkeks’ leader explains to Jen they had mistakenly shattered the Crystal long ago, splitting them into two races and decimating Thra, Jen’s actions have restored them. The urSkeks revive Kira in gratitude for her sacrifice and Jen’s courage, and then ascend to a higher level of existence, leaving the Crystal to the Gelflings on the now-rejuvenated Thra.