Today marks the last entry in the movies of 1982. December the 17th, 1982, exactly 30 years ago today Jim Henson released his first non Muppet fantasy film “The Dark Crystal”. Jim Henson was a larger than life hero of mine from the first time I saw Sesame Street in the 60’s to The Muppet Show in the 70’s and beyond. Starlog Magazine was releasing tid bits of info and an occasional picture from the production a good year before the films release. These tiny fragments were more than enough to build the anticipation for the December opening. I was so excited about this film and just could not wait for it to come out. My buddy Rod Andrewson was equally as much of a fan as I was and we were there on opening day. From start to finish we were taken deep into Henson’s imagination and I was not ready for this movie to end!!! Thirty years later I am just as much a fan and my hat is off to all that had their hand in creating this magical masterpiece.
This film introduced me to a host of artists that I had never heard of before and have been following their careers ever since. Starting with my favorite, let me introduce you to Mr. Brian Froud. Brian was the conceptual illustrator brought on by Henson who saw his book years earlier called “The world of Froud.” With pencil and brush at hand He single handedly designed the entire world of the Dark Crystal. A master without measure, he created the characters, the architecture and all the subtle symbols and carvings that all together make this fictional world more than believable. I love Brian’s work and have been collecting his sketches and books for as long as I can remember. Brian is a very humble man and he says that he try’s not to carry a design too far so as let the next set of artistic hands have their chance to add to the creativity!
Harry Lange was the production designer on the film, and his visionary imagination created the sets and interiors that set the standard for so many fantasy films that followed. Along with Froud’s creations, these two men have made a world unlike anything seen before it’s release! The details never end, every corner, every piece of furniture, literary anywhere you look the tiny details fill the shadows. Most of this extravagant work is missed on the first viewing but by the 3rd and 4rth time your eye starts to catch all the craftsmanship scattered about in every scene.
Trevor Jones was the composer on the film and as much as Froud put the visuals to The Dark Crystal, Trevor’s music gave it all a mighty voice. He, too, is a master at what he does and his score is as rich as it is fantastic. It took many years for the complete soundtrack of this one to come out, and it is a must have if you’re a film music collector. Frank Oz and all of the fantastic puppeteers pushed their talents to new limits and the end results were breathtaking. Gary Kurtz from The first two Star wars films came on as producer, and ILM added their hand into the visual effects arena! The film was directed by both Jim Henson and Frank Oz and I can’t say enough about this incredible film so if you haven’t seen it, or it’s been a long time since you have, be sure to watch it again and relive the magic!!!
Happy 30th Dark Crystal
Also for those of you who want to see more of Brian Froud’s work, visit his web site at, http://www.worldoffroud.com/index.php