THE LATE LATE REVIEW: THE DARK CRYSTAL

Release Date: December 1982 (USA), February 1983 (UK)

Awards: Okay, so it was passed over at the big ones except for a Best Visual Effects nomination at the BAFTAs. It was nominated for Best Special Effects and won Best Fantasy Film at the Saturn Awards.

Rating: 79% on Rotten Tomatoes with 81% Audience score, it’s a firm favourite.

Long, long ago, a magical crystal split apart and created two new races; the creepy, evil Skeksis and the kind, benevolent Mystics (or urRu, apparently). The Skesis basically ditched off a race called the Gelflings because of a prophecy that a Gelfling would be the end of them. Naturally, a surviving Gelfling adopted by the mystics is tasked with repairing the crystal and restoring order. Still with me?

This was a Jim Henson production. You know, the bloke behind the muppets, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock? Anyway, Henson and Frank Oz (Henson’s frequent collaborator) directed the movie together. It was something of an antithesis of Henson’s other work, being super dark and dramatic (and for at least one of my friends absolutely terrifying as a kid).

I’m going to be honest, I don’t recognise any of the actors in the cast list. I did actually think that I read Perrie Edwards (from Little Mix) was in it, but I misread Percy – oh, and Perrie wouldn’t be born for another 11 years after the film’s release.

The puppets in this movie are amazing. There are some which must have amounted to months of work which appear for mere moments on screen. There’s a really intense attention to detail too. Do you ever forget that you’re looking at puppets? Not really, but does it matter? Absolutely not!

It was filmed in Elstree Studios in the most part, but they also filmed on location in the Scottish Highlands, North Yorkshire, and Leicestershire – which must have been super easy with that many puppets. It also feels important to mention that the Mystics costumes required the puppeteer to hunch over and support the whole weight of the head on an outstretched arm. Henson himself could only manage to keep the costume up for about 5 seconds at a time. Madness.

In spite of the fairly simple plot, there are aspects of this movie which can feel hard to follow. That said, the film is so engaging that it barely matters. It’s so enjoyable to watch and it really takes you to another place. I would highly recommend this movie, and I cannot wait to get my teeth into the new Netflix show!

It has to be said though, whoever decided to call the dog thing “Fizzgig” and have Kira repeat it over and over and over again throughout the film really does deserve a punch…

Is there an iconic film or album you think I should have experienced by now? Let me know @MoveToTRASHUK #latelatereview

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