The Dark Crystal – Tamara’s Never Seen

Tamara checks out The Dark Crystal.

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15 comments

  1. Hello Tamara! First time I’ve been first (I think). Being a HUGE devotee of all things Muppet and Jim Henson Creatures I’ve been looking forward to this, but I’d better re-view before laying down the points of been saving up for a day now.

  2. 1:03 For the record neither Jim Henson nor anyone at his company worked directly on any of the creatures in Star Wars. They did loan out Frank Oz (voice of Aguhra) to the do the voice and lead puppetry of Yoda with assistance from fellow Henson veteran Kathryn Mullen (voice of Kira) while some others contributed to the design. If they had built Yoda he probably would have been classified as “Creature” rather than “Muppet,” (and yes there is a difference).
    Still the company connections have been many. Gary Kurtz was producer of the first two Star Wars movies before he co-produced The Dark Crystal and George Lucas worked on Labyrinth.

    1:24 Not sure how Jim would feel about that, since he admitted to learning quite a bit from earlier puppeteers in television like Bil Baird over the years, plus a lot more experimental work around the world. Surprisingly he only got into the practice because it was easy was to get on television in the so-called Golden era of the 1950s. It was only after being introduced to other varieties in Europe that got serious about puppetry as an art form.

    5:14 Yes that’s right puppet “creature” and I sense a recall of the chicken in Return to Oz

    6:24-36 Did you practice that? It looks like your hair was already wet! Nice commitment! Also maybe it was a coincidence, but I just noticed your hair’s color matches the dark crystal itself!

    • A slight correction: Frank Oz and Kathryn Mullen were the puppeteers of Aguhra and Kira respectively. The voices were done by to British actresses I’d never heard of: Billie Whitelaw and Lisa Maxwell.

  3. Giant Enemy Crabs! Hit their weak points for massive damage!

    It’s a cat; cats never do what you want them to. Especially on camera.

    8:00 – “HOW DO I SHOT WEB?”

  4. Goodbye number system. Also, yep, yet another movie that I’ve never seen before. Tamara and I are kinda on the same level for the most part.

  5. Was anyone else stuck on the line from 1:19 for a minute?

  6. Just re-watched The Dark Crystal to refresh me memory.

    (If you haven’t seen it yet you might want to skip the rest of this, because I go over plot points.)

    I agree that Jen’s voice, appearance, and overall character was the weakness element. I get that they wanted him to be an ever-man type on a heroes quest (thing Link in the Zelda games) and his initial fatalism and timidness was understandable given he’s grown believing himself the last of his kind, but I never felt like he grew much from there. He shows increasing bravery over the course of his quest, yet his role feels relegated to that of a cipher.

    The only time I sensed any room for character growth was after the attack on the Podling village. At first he blames himself, assuming the Skesis were just trying to find him and had to be told such raids had been ongoing. This lead him to admit nothing feels simple anymore and is unsure of his role now, but it’s resolved all to quickly with the discovery of the whole “prophecy”.

    Of course it said by Gelfling or none, but than the crystal could just as easily been healed by Kira. Frankly I’d almost have preferred it that way, since seemed suited to the role of hero .Yes she had the pretty much same limited facial design, bland personality, lack of depth as Jen but some how I just found her far more expressive and resilient. Not to mention bold, as she while riding those awesome Land-riders telling Jen that “Prophets don’t know everything.”

  7. I enjoyed it a little more as a kid for sure.

    It’s less of a great movie and more of a visual experience with a vague narrative, and I’ll admit there is some nostalgia at work in my view of this film.

    That being said:
    We’ll probably never see anything like it again in a major film. Labyrinth and The Neverending Story were the closest thing to it. (And the Neverending Story is the strongest film of those IMO)

  8. Snorgatch Pandalume

    This movie is a technical triumph, but it utterly fails in the storytelling department, with vapid lead characters and a derivative, generic fantasy plot. Seriously, I never ever EVER need to see or read another movie or book that contains 1) a prophecy, and 2) a Chosen One whose task is to fulfill it. That is by far the oldest, most hackneyed, unimaginative plot any work of fantasy can have, especially if the Chosen One accomplishes this goal by means of special powers or some magical object that he’s done NOTHING to earn apart from simply being the Chosen One, making him a plot device rather than an actual character, a puppet of destiny.
    Also, did Tamara say “In The Labyrinth” at 1:10? The reason I ask is not because the movie’s name is simply “Labyrinth,” but because “In The Labyrinth” was a fantasy role-playing game published by Metagaming and it was the first FRPG I ever got seriously into. Except it was published in 1980, so I don’t know how Tamara, who was born 11 years later, could possibly be aware of it.

  9. So, a few points…

    Firstly… boring, MY ASS! Yes, it’s less exciting that the “flashy flashy jingle keys in front of the audience” stuff you see in family movies these days, but for its time it was quite the masterpiece… albeit severely under-rated back then.

    The mirelurks are called Garthim (and Bethesda probably took inspiration from them for the Fallout 4 mirelurks)

    Once the Emperor dies (they’ve lived for 1000 years, as per the intro narration, so yes, that’s why he crumbled like a 1000 year old corpse), the Trial By Stone is a simple combat trial where each competitor takes a number of swings, assumedly a max of 3, and the one that takes the largest chunk out of the stone in those swings wins. The General just managed to take out more than anyone else ever had…

    Speaking of The General (none of the characters outside of Jen, Kira, Aughra and Fizzgig have actual names, and are just named after what job they do), he isn’t drinking during the dinner scene, he’s washing his face.

    As for the ending and with Jen healing the crystal, it was kind of a self-fulfilling prophesy. If it hadn’t been said that a Gelfling would heal the crystal, the Skeksis wouldn’t have wiped out their race, causing the Mystics to hide Jen away. When he was old enough, he could be the one to go do the deed. Groomed from before he was born, so to speak.
    Gelflings are basically halflings (like Hobbits), and thus are probably very good at sneaking around and not being seen when they don’t want to be… so they’d be good for sneaking into the castle.

    All in all, I do agree with you on the puppet work on Jen, but overall it’s still a fantastic movie that stands up even today. It would have done even better if it hadn’t been over-shadowed by ET coming out at the same time.

    • Snorgatch Pandalume

      A few points. First, boringness is subjective. If Tamara thought it was boring, then it was boring…to her. Second, Dark Crystal came out six months after E.T., so I don’t think you can blame that for its failure at the box office.

  10. If you’ve never seen any Muppets, I’d recommend either “Muppet Treasure Island” or “Muppet Christmas Carol” for a future episode. They’re not quite pure puppetry (in Treasure Island, Jim & Long John Silver are live actors [Tim Curry for Long John] and in Christmas Carol Scrooge is played by Michael Caine), but otherwise they’re Muppetastic. You might recognise the stories though….

  11. thatchickwithlonghair

    Ah yeah. I was so excited to see this movie but I was a little bored too; the main character is just too weak of a character. >_<

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