by John Hamilton
at 04:25 PM | Permalink
Reviewing lesser-known films that stand the test of time
world, another time, in the age of wonder…”It’s with that mystical and
somewhat haunting quote that the audience is set up for something truly
1980s Jim Henson, maestro behind the creation of the lovable and hilarious
Muppets, decided to expand his creative mind and came out with two non-Muppet
movies. In 1986 there was the cult classic Labyrinth,
which featured the man who fell to earth himself, David Bowie. But there was
one film he made earlier, in 1982, that many seem to overlook — Henson’s
fantasy epic The Dark Crystal.
with fellow Muppeteer Frank Oz and illustrator Brian Froud, Henson managed to
create the enchanted and wonder-filled world with terrific looking creatures,
an interesting mythology and a movie with a cast made up entirely of elaborate
animatronic puppets. That should sell you on the movie instantly.
story is rather basic: Jen, one of the last remaining members of the race
called Gelflings, must embark on a quest to heal the titular Dark Crystal. The
crystal in question is missing one chard and Jen must find it and go to the
dark castle where it is held. On his journey he meets another Gelfling named
Kira and a cranky, eccentric yet wise, old hermit named Aughra (voiced by the
late Billie Whitelaw). In the castle Jen must confront not only his fear and
self-doubt but the inhabitants of the castle as well — the cruel buzzard-looking
Skeksis and their giant beetle bodyguards called the Garthaim.
movie very obviously has the common theme of good vs. evil. When the film begins,
the narrator points out that when the Crystal cracked two new races appeared,
the aforementioned Skeksis and their gentle, almost dragon-looking Mystics. As
the film progresses it hints at that it wasn’t just a coincidence that these
groups just happened to appear when the Crystal cracked. The movie is saying
that we all have to battle and come to terms with our inner demons, whether
it’s rage, greed or even something like self-doubt. Of course, like any fantasy
story, there is a ton of expanded universe stuff that gives more details to
this story. While every story should stand on its own, acknowledging these
details explained in this universe may help the story a tad and it does add a
good extra flavor to this awesome buffet of a movie.
finally gets the Crystal chard, his caretakers, the Mystics, find out about his
discovery (through some spiritual connection, I’m sure) and they start their
long journey to the castle. Now their trek almost rival that of Lord of the Rings, but it could very
easily represent what it takes to confront your evil or the part of yourself
you don’t want to confront. You may be willing to face it and come to terms
with it, but who knows how long it’ll take, or if it’ll be successful at all?
film also features probably one of my favorite movie characters of all time,
Aughra the astronomer. She helps Jen find the missing chard and gives him some
knowledge about why this journey is important. The reason she’s amazing to me
is because she’s just so unique looking and her characteristics are not what
you usually imagine when you think of the wise old mentor characters. She’s
just splendid, and Billie Whitelaw’s voice fits perfectly.
a film that has an entire puppet cast, no humans in sight. That’s what makes
the film so incredible. Jim Henson and his entire production pretty much
started their Creature Shop just for this film alone. Every creature has an
amazing amount of detail put into it. The craftsmanship is displayed in the
clothing for the characters, in their faces, their sounds and even in the
background. This is a movie where almost every scene has something to offer.
Henson stated in the “Making of” special of this film that the first thing he
thought of was the creatures and the world they were inhabiting. I think that
displays what kind of creative mastermind Jim Henson was and a good reason why
his non-Muppet related work should be appreciated.
Spike Jonze delivers a melancholy adaptation of a classic children’s book
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 14, 2009
To say that Spike Jonze's adaptation of Maurice Sendak's 'Where the Wild Things Are' sometimes plays like a wrenchingly melancholy, Bergman-esque domestic drama isn't much help to people who want to know if children will like it.