THE DARK CRYSTAL is a masterful live-action fantasy starring some of Jim Henson's most imaginative creatures ever! Directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz and produced by Gary Kurtz (Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back) THE DARK... more » CRYSTAL brilliantly weaves a timeless myth of Good and Evil! In another time THE DARK CRYSTAL- a source of Balance and Truth in the Universe- was shattered dividing the world into two factions: the wicked Skeksis and the peaceful Mystics. Now as the convergence of the three suns approaches the Crystal must be healed or darkness will reign forevermore! It's up to Jen -the last of his race- to fulfill the prophecy that a Gelfling will return the missing shard to the Crystal and destroy the Skeksis' evil Empire. But will young Jen's courage be any match for the unknown dangers that await him?System Requirements:Starring: John Baddeley Stephen Garlick David Buck Directed By: Jim Henson Frank Oz Running Time: 92 Min. Copyright Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2005Format: UMD Genre: SCI-FI/FANTASY Rating: PG UPC: 043396119086 Manufacturer No: 11908« less
"I'm a huge fan of The Dark Crystal (it and Labyrinth are my favourite movies of all time ever) so I was of course thrilled when a special collector's edition was released. However, I'm disappointed in the "features".Pretty much everything on the disc is the same as what's on the non-collector's edition. The few new things to me aren't worth it. Character Illustrations and storyboards are nice and all. I was excited about "The Mithra Treatment", which I thought was the original print of the movie...where the characters speak their own language and not English (you see some of this in the deleted scenes on the disc). It is not. It is simply screens and screens of Henson's original notes. Interesting yes... but I'd rather have that in a booklet, not in screens on my TV. Then again, the fact that it was only 1 disc should have tipped me off.The packaging is nice, the replica of Henson's notepad detailing the original ideas which would become the movie is very interesting... but in my opinion, not worth the $35 or whatever I just shelled out for this. I'm very disappointed in the amount of "exclusives" on this DVD. The original print of the film would have been *amazing* to see, to see how Henson and Co. originally viewed the film. Maybe some new interviews with some of the other players (Oz and Froud for sure) as they look back on the movie, its box office disappointment but almost cult success. Or even a nifty booklet with a lot of these extras in it. I hate sitting in front of my TV trying to read screens of information or look at drawings which I'd rather have on paper so I can see the detail better. So to make a long story short... if you like the movie, get the regular edition and not collector's. If you're a fanatic like me, bought the re-issued World of the Dark Crystal book and even considered shelling out a few hundred for the original pressing... and somehow MISSED buying the first DVD release of this movie, well then this is probably for you. But if you already own the DVD that came out a few years ago... I'd think very heavily on it, unless you are a fanatic. Even as a fanatic, you probably won't find any new material here (especially if you own the aforementioned book), and I'd save the $35. Or try to recoup some of your "loss" and sell your other DVD somewhere (like I'm going to try and do). I hope that if Henson and Co. decide to do a Collector's Edition of Labyrinth they put a little more work into it. I have to say, I'm disappointed with how the kids have carried on Jim's legend."
Remastered and with extra features
SRFireside | Houston, TX United States | 07/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is Jim Henson's magnum opus. There isn't a fantasy movie out there that brings you to a whole different reality like The Dark Crystal does. Yes the movie is all performed entirely by puppets and yes there isn't a human being in site. That's the beauty of it. With a combination of an excellent story, innovative (for its time) animatronics, beautiful sets and cinematography you get a truly dazzling experience that any fantasy fan would be a fool not to miss.
The biggest aspect of Dark Crystal is the setting. They created a whole different world with its own animals, plants and terrain. The level of detail put into creating this new world is staggering and you get some good scenes to soak yourself up in it. From the rock caves of the Mystics to the jagged spires of the Skesis castle to Aughra's planetarium to every landscape in between. You will get drawn into this alien world. The beauty of the sets and location shots is only enhanced with some fantastic cinematography and conventional effects.
Since we are essentially talking about a puppet show brought to you as a feature film let's talk about the puppets. Granted they might seem a bit archaic by today's standards, they were nothing short of incredible back in 1982. To have puppets act and react in such an organic and lifelike fashion was never done on film before. This is the first movie where you get that sort of eye and mouth movements we have come so used to with current animatronics. Famed artist Brian Froud created all of the creatures and characters for Dark Crystal and if you're a fan of his work you will definitely see it. When you look at the majesty of the Mystics you forget they are just people covered in foam latex.
Of course having a truly creative setting and truly creative characters would not be enough to make a great movie. Lord knows fantasy fans have seen plenty of examples that prove that point. However this movie has a story that is as classic as any fable you have read before. By the time you finish this movie if will feel like you just read a grand fairy tale... only about wondrous and fantastic creatures never seen before. It's not deep storytelling. Then again it shouldn't be considering the mythical theme.
The original release of this DVD had a host of wonderful extras that made it the only DVD you would ever need... UNTIL NOW! This DVD has everything that made the original release great plus a good deal more. Here's what you get:
REFLECTIONS OF THE DARK CRYSTAL - Two-part featurette (Shard of Illusion [16 minutes] and Light on the Path of Creation [20 minutes]) with more recent interviews from writers, directors, and performers including co-writer David O'Dell, conceptual designer Brian Froud, and Jim Henson's son Brian. These featurettes also include newly discovered test footage from Jim Henson's home in England.
WORLD OF THE DARK CRYSTAL - The most amazing "making of" documentary one can ever ask for. It details over an hour of footage regarding conceptual design, character creation, production, cinematography, the philosophy behind the creation of this movie and the world it is based on, and more. This documentary was made while the Dark Crystal was released so you get interviews with the man himself, Jim Henson at the time of the movie along with scores of others involved in the movie. Most "making of" documentaries that come out with movies these days are little more than lip service to help promote the movie. I wish they would follow the model done on THIS documentary.
WORK PRINT SCENES - The original concept of The Dark Crystal was to have many of the creatures speak their own language, which we would get subtitles for, in order to further put in that different world. I think that would have been a cool way to see the movie and with this footage you get an idea of Jim Henson's original concept. Keep in mind this is not fully produced footage and it's not the same as seeing the end product. Namely the character Augra is being dubbed with Frank Oz's Miss Piggy-esque voice over and of course there is no music or post-production. Still it's interesting to get a taste of what the movie could have been like.
DELETED SCENE - Just one deleted scene, which was the Skeksis funeral. You're really not missing much taking it out if you ask me. The funeral itself is boring. The scene has some footwate with Jen talking to one of the Mystics about his quest, which was nice. No remastering on the scene of course. It's pretty grainy.
Top all of that off with a newly remastered high definition print, dolby digital sound and an audio commentary by Brian Froud and you have the new winner on which is the definitive Dark Crystal DVD. The difference in video quality is almost night and day. The previous DVDs were grainy and the colors weren't as vibrant. The remastering does these movies a lot of justice in cleaning up the picture and breathing new life in a 25+ year old movie.
Something I noticed on the audio. The original disk had a Spanish dub track in mono, but this version doesn't. It does, however have a Japanese 5.1 dolby track while the original didn't. There is also no Spanish subtitles (something I find odd considering how easy it would be to add). I suppose the spanish speaking Dark Crystal fans may be put off from this.
This is the version of the movie to get... until late September. Good News!! The Dark Crystal will be out on high definition Blu-Ray!! It will have all the same features as this DVD plus an exclusive picture in picture featurette (I think it's a storyboard comparison), and two games: The Book of Thra (collect artifacts from the movie and view your collection) and SkekTek's Crystal Challenge (all I know is it's a game in picture). Hopefully the transfer to Blu-Ray doesn't take out too much of the original film grain like many of these transfers of older movies do. I will report more on the Blu-Ray details when I get them.
I will admit that some people might be put off of this movie due to the lack of human actors in front of you and the fact the puppet animatronics might feel dated. It's a shame people would feel that way because The Dark Crystal is fantasy storytelling at its finest. If you are a fan of the genre this movie is an absolute must. If you're a Muppet fan... well these aren't Muppets so don't expect Fraggle Rock when you see it. Any fan of grand storytelling who wants to be whisked away to a strange faraway land will find what they are looking for in The Dark Crystal. Do yourself a favor and check this movie out."
I loved the special features, but not the movie quality.
Andre' Staes (firstname.lastname@example.org) | USA | 10/12/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I didn't buy this dvd to criticize it or take it apart. I bought it to own it and enjoy it---like most people. This is my absolute favorite movie. I looked forward to seeing all of the new features being released about this movie. The special features were incredible---the work prints, the clips, the trailers, character profiles,the deleted scenes----all of that was pretty magical to me. The problem that I had was with the overall quality of the movie itself. The sound was not top notch, and the movie was entirely too dark----NOT the content(I love this movie!)I'm talking about the color of the characters, backgrounds, etc...it seemed to have been re-issued in a darker finish. The biggest disappointment, was that the original soundtrack was not on the dvd as stated---there was an option to choose it, called "isolated music score", but when you choose it, you just get sent back to the beginning of the dvd menu. The other problem that really messed-up the whole movie----certain colors were changed. For instance: the color of the crystal became purple instead of that murky wine color. Next, when the crystal was healed, after the rock and crust fall from the walls, the brilliant white crystalline walls of the castle are no longer white---the dvd shows these walls in brown---they seemed faded; not how they were portrayed in the original. Next, when the Urskeks ascend to their higher realm, they meld together and are swept into this beautiful funnel of white energy and carried through the triangular portal over the crystal.In the dvd, however, someone changed the white color of the energy into GREEN; a serious contrast---it was so obvious. That was terrible. Lastly, the sound dips and waves in two places----immediately after Kira is brought back to life by the Urskek...right after her head moves. And the sound also fluctuates at the exact point where the Urskeks disappear through the triangle portal...right when the end music hits its climax. The reason why I know so many of the flaws is because I have the laserdisk that was put out a couple of years ago, and I played them both at the same time---mirrored---I flipped back and forth just to see if my assumptions were right.. There were major differences. The quality was just not there for it being a re-issue. By all means---if you like this movie, then buy the dvd---it's great to have and watch. Just understand that the money that you are paying for this is strictly for the special features and not for the movie itself. I never criticize things just to criticize. I don't believe in nit-picking every little detail. This is simply not the Dark Crystal that I have grown to know and enjoy. I firmly believe that if you're going to take the time to bring back something so popular and special to so many people, why do it halfway? Do it right, and make it big."
Visionary fantasy, stunning on DVD
St. Chris | Browns Mills, NJ USA | 12/04/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Long have I loved The Dark Crystal, and when I got the DVD as a gift (my first DVD!), frankly, I was apprehensive. I hadn't seen the movie in years, until this past summer, when I rented the videotape and was appalled by the quality: the murky picture, the incomprehensible composition of many scenes, and the slow pacing. Would the DVD simply present digitally-clear proof of all these complaints?
Nope! This is a feast for the eyes, a creative masterpiece.
Okay, first off, I'll say that the pacing *is* slow, and that's the biggest flaw in this film. My only other issue, brought to light by the sharp DVD picture, is that the hero puppets, the Gelflings, are relatively unexpressive -- their facial features change very little. Perhaps that was the limited state of the art for a humanlike puppet in the early 1980s. It's ironic, because every other creature in this fantasy world (excepting the beasts of burden: Landstriders, Garthim) is delightfully expressive, from the simple Pod People to the wonderful conniving Skeksis Chamberlain. But then, I've read the same about Star Wars, even: Heroes tend to be plain and undetailed because we are meant to project our own traits upon them. Still, I'd have appreciated even a basic facial expression, a simple smile or frown, but the Gelflings don't have it.
But don't get me wrong: Those are minor complaints. I love this movie. I almost gave up on it after the atrocious VHS rental experience, but the DVD restored my faith and then some. If the pacing is slow, it is a boon in disguise, because it allows you more time to absorb the visual detail. And The Dark Crystal is loaded with detail; this is a complete fantasy world, inspired by Brian Froud (of the book "Fairies") and constructed by Jim Henson's shop. The widescreen frame is necessary (it's the only aspect ratio included) -- after seeing this DVD, I can't imagine watching the movie in TV pan 'n' scan format. Every shot is a dreamlike panorama. And the color is truly vibrant.
The sound, as well, is excellent, and the isolated music soundtrack option provides for an even more mysterious and compelling experience. The bonus material is sometimes weak (e.g., overdesigned character-photo screens with terse descriptions), but the saving grace is the documentary piece. It's an extensive look at the conception and making of the movie, and it features the most footage of Jim Henson I've ever seen in one place. The Dark Crystal was in many ways the crown jewel of Henson's achievements, and it's fitting that he gets the chance to talk so much about it. Plenty of interviews with other production people, too, including Frank Oz. (At one point, Henson and Oz are seen discussing a storyboard, and if you close your eyes, it's eerie -- you could swear it's Ernie and Bert.) Truly a treat for Henson fans. For the many who waited decades for a definitive collector's release of The Dark Crystal, it's a dream come true.
Note: I wouldn't recommend this film for young children. I'd say it's best for later grade-schoolers, especially fantasy-oriented ones (I can imagine a revival among the Harry Potter crowd). But don't assume that because it's from Henson it's another Sesame Street preschooler romp: The Dark Crystal has some frightening scenes, elements of macabre horror, and even murder. I'm saving this one until my kids are older -- and then, boy, am I going to love watching it with them."
A gem of fantasy, a true cinematic masterpiece.
Lee Gaiteri | Syracuse, NY USA | 09/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Those who haven't seen The Dark Crystal have been missing out on what may be the greatest live-action fantasy film of all time (or at least the '80s). A completely alien world is presented as vivid, believable reality via the deceptively "simple" technique of puppeteering. The result is very unlike a Muppet film as some might expect, much more like something truly out of this world; it is a storybook brought to life. The tale is simple and enjoyable enough for children, but deep and layered enough for adults as well.Fans of the movie should own this DVD not just for the exceptional crispness of the picture and the virtues of the ultra-widescreen format (2.35:1) but for the bonus materials. In particular the documentary explaining the production process gave me a whole new appreciation for the difficulty of making this film, and the incredible artistry and talent that was poured into it. The complexity of getting everything to work just right seems to have given the piece a strong sense of unity; the creature effects don't fight the plot nor do the characters fail to convey emotion in ways ordinary actors might. Because the technical challenges of working entirely with puppets have been somewhat scrapped in favor of CGI over the last decade, I think we're unlikely ever to see another movie like it--more's the pity.If you liked the movie on VHS, buy the DVD. If you just like fantasy and would like to see a worthy film in the genre, buy the DVD. If you're a fan of the late Jim Henson's work and want to see something different from his other stuff, buy this DVD. This one is worth every penny."