Movie: THE DARK CRYSTAL (1982)

I remember watching a movie on TV a long time ago when I was still very young.

I think I was of preschool age therefore I have no recollection what the title is or even know what the movie was all about.

All I remember is one scene which, for some strange reason, has etched itself in my memory.

Through the years, this scene would pop up in my mind every so often just to annoy me.

It has therefore become a quest of my own to find out what movie it is and why has it been appearing in my mind!

In the scene, two puppets were sitting across each other on a boat drifting down the river.

I have been looping that scene countless times trying to look for any tell-tale signs that might lead me to the answer but with only this as a clue, my chances of uncovering the truth seemed bleak.

A couple of years ago, I began searching in the direction of Jim Henson - the famed puppeteer from the 1980s.

I looked through his past productions, hoping to pick up something useful. As fate would have it, staring back at me were pictures of the two puppets who have been making guest appearances in my mind all this while!

As I found out, the movie is called "The Dark Crystal", a 1982 full-length feature film featuring an all-puppet cast.

I have been looking everywhere for the DVD to no avail as they only have it on Blu Ray. It was not until a few months ago when someone decided to upload it on youtube that I finally have the opportunity to watch the movie which has been traumatising me for the last 30 years!

In an era when CGI is unheard of, you have to give Jim Hensen and his team credits for producing such terrifying special effects. 

Be forewarned that The Dark Crystal is no fairytale but have a rather dark theme to it instead. There are scenes of death and violence so I would not recommend it for the kids.

Even I, as an adult, find this movie a little hard to stomach.

The Dark Crystal was directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz (voice of Yoda from the Starwars).

Watch the trailer.

Here is the Synopsis of the film:

This story took place on Thra, a world with three Suns.

Every one thousand years, the three Suns - the Great Sun, the Rose Sun and the Dying Sun would align together in what they call the Great Conjunction.

The alignment of the suns would form an intense beam of light that shines directly onto the Crystal which hangs above a shaft of air and fire in the secret chamber of the castle and all who lived on this land would be renewed by the light that flooded down on them.

The three Suns align

During the previous Great Conjunction, Urskeks, keepers of the Crystal were split into two races - the evil Skeksis and the peaceful Mystics.

A fight broke out and the Skeksis broke off a shard from the Crystal. The Mystics left to live in a far away valley while the Skeksis took over the castle where they ruled the land with an iron fist.

When a prophecy revealed that a Gelfling would find the missing shard and heal the Crystal during the next Great Conjunction, the Skeksis sent an army of Garthim - a crustacean-like creature to wipe out the entire Gelfling clan.

If the Crystal was healed, that would spell the end of the Skeksis reign but failing which, they would remain in power and became even more powerful than they already are.

Unbeknownst to the power-hungry Skeksis, however, two orphaned Gelflings survived the ordeal.

Jen, the male Gelfling was raised by the Mystics while Kira, the female Gelfling was adopted by the Podlings. Both had thought they were the last surviving member of their clan until they met at the later part of this story.

As the story goes, the Skeksis and the Mystics were one half each of the Urskeks.

Despite the separation, there was still a sympathetic bond between each Skeksis and its Mystic counterpart, a constant reminder that they were only halves of the same being.

If either is wounded, the other feels the pain and suffers an identical injury. If one should die, both will die in the same manner.

In the beginning of the movie, Skekso, the Emperor of the Skeksis lies dying in bed surrounded by the other Skeksis who were all eyeing his throne.

The Skeksis decided to elect their new Emperor by "trial of stone" - a ceremony Skeksis used to settle disputes. Whoever is able to hack off the largest piece of stone will be declared the winner.

Both Skeksil, the Chamberlain and Skekvar, the General participates and Skekvar emerge as the new Emperor.

Ursu on his deathbed

Meanwhile back in the valley, Jen's master, Ursu, the leader of the Mystics, too did not have long to live.

Ursu told Jen about the prophecy and just before he breathed his last, sent Jen on a quest to look for the missing shard so as to heal the Crystal before the Great Conjunction comes along in a few day's time.

If Jen fails to heal the Crystal before the three suns align, the Skeksis would rule forever.

Under the instructions of Ursu, Jen left the valley to seek help from Aughra, an old hermit woman who lived in an observatory atop a mountain.

Unfortunately, this was discovered by the Skeksis and the newly crowned Emporer sent the Garthim army to destroy Jen.

Jen eventually found Aughra and managed to identify the correct shard among three identical ones. As Aughra was sharing with Jen about the Great Conjunction, the Garthim army arrives and destroyed her home.

Aughra was captured and brought back to the castle while Jen managed to escape with the shard.

Unbeknownst to him, his every move was being watched.

Jen and Kira meets for the first time

Jen came to a forest and fell into a pool after being startled by Fizzgig, a dog-like creature with a aggressive temper. It was here where Jen met Fizzgig's owner, Kira, another Gelfling.

As Kira helps Jen out of the water, they went through a telepathy connection called dreamfasting which is how Gelflings shared thoughts, memories and emotions.

Kira brought Jen back to the village of the Podlings who had adopted her and had also taught her the ability to communicate with animals and beasts.

While the Podlings were celebrating the return of Kira and Jen, the Garthim army caught up with Jen at the village. Most of the Podlings were captured and brought back to the castle while Jen and Kira managed to escaped into the darkness.

Once again, their every move were being monitered as someone stopped the Garthim army from going after them.

The next morning, Jen and Kira came upon the ruins of the Gelflings. It was here where their clan were wiped out.

Jen finally learned the way to heal the broken Crystal after reading some ancient words on the wall.

Just at this moment, a Skeksis appeared and persuaded them to follow him back to the castle to make peace. It was him who has all along been secretly spying on Jen.

Jen and Kira escapes from him.

Kira summons the Landstrider, a creature with extremely long and powerful limbs with which they are able to move very fast and cover vast distances.

Jen and Kira rescuing the Podlings

They arrived at the castle and were just in time to catch up with the returning Garthim army who had earlier attacked the Podlings village. Kira tried to free the captured Podlings but proved no match for the Garthim army.

In the fight that ensues, the Landstriders perished.

Cornered, Kira held on to Jen and flew down the cliff. It was here that Jen realised female Gelflings had wings.

They managed to find an alternative way to enter the castle at the foot of the cliff but ran into the same Skeksis who has been following them.

As it turns out, this Skeksis was Skeksil, the Chamberlain who was defeated in the fight to be the next Emperor. He was stripped of his post and banished by the new Emperor soon after the fight.

Chamberlain showing his true self

He had planned to present a Gelfling to the Emperor so he may be reinstated. In this castle, the Skeksis Emperor rejuvenates his youth and vitality by drinking the essence of prisoners that the Garthim army captured from their missions.

The essence from the Gelflings had the best effects but because they were wiped out, the Emperor had been depending on the essence of the Podlings since.

When a Podling had his essence extracted, they appeared weakened and withered with no thoughts of their own. They were then enslaved to serve the Skeksis.

The Chamberlain revealed his true colors and knocked Jen out in the dungeon while he presented Kira to the Emperor.

The Emperor was indeed pleased and reinstated his duties.

While Kira was having her essence extracted, Jen regained conscious and shouts out at her to fight back using their telepathic connection.

Kira snaps out of her daze.

Kira having her essence drained out of her

Aughra who was imprisoned in the same chamber told Kira to ask the caged creatures to help her. The captive creatures began forcing their way out of their enclosures and caused a mayhem in the chamber.

In the confusion, the Skeksis fell into the shaft of fire where the Crystal was floating upon and Kira was saved.

Meanwhile, one of the Mystics who were on their way to the castle vanishes into thin air.

If you remember, the Skeksis and the Mystics were only halves of the same being. If one dies, the other would too.

Jen and Kira waiting for the moment to strike

Both Jen and Kira simultaneously made their way to the secret chamber where the dark Crystal was.

While awaiting for the right moment to strike, Jen and Kira were discovered by the Skeksis. The Emperor summons the Garthim army to get them and while trying to dodge their attacks, Jen drops the shard.

Kira was killed by the Emperor but not before she threw the shard back into Jen's hands.

It was finally the moment for the Great Conjunction. As the three suns align, a beam of light shone down on the dark Crystal.

Jen replaces the missing shard onto the dark Crystal and at that instance, he was thrown off from the Crystal which is now glowing.

The castle began to crumble with debris falling everywhere. The Skeksis became hysterical and the Mystics enters the secret chamber.

The enslaved Podlings seemed to have recovered their vitality and returned to normal.

The Mystics pulled the Skeksis towards them

The Mystics encircled the Crystal and their evil counterparts were pulled towards them via the beam of light. As the Skeksis and the Mystics reunite, the two halves were made one again.

The Urskeks

The prophecy has finally been fulfilled and the Urskeks are made whole once more.

Jen's courage and sacrifice has restored the true power of the Crystal. Unglm, the leader of the Urskeks revived Kira with his powers and made them the new keepers of the Crystal before vanishing under the beam of the light.