The Dark Crystal, the 30th anniversary



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

Jim Henson and Frank Oz

Jim Henson and Frank Oz

Brian Froud

Brian Froud

A Mystic

A Mystic



Froud's sketch of Jen

Froud’s sketch of Jen

B&W image of the land striders

B&W image of the land striders

More of Froud's work

More of Froud’s work

Froud's Spiral

Froud’s Spiral

the thrown room

the thrown room

one of ILM's incredible matte shot

one of ILM’s incredible matte shot





24 Responses to “The Dark Crystal, the 30th anniversary”

  1. 1 JNG
    December 18, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Never did see this one, but as it is available on Blu-ray, perhaps it’s time!

  2. 4 DeanneM
    December 18, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I also have not seen this film (avoids John’s gaze…). But then it wasn’t until I heard that someone was making an epic 3 film LOTR effort that I finally picked up The Hobbit and LOTR books to read for the first time, so I guess I missed some of these awesome fantasy stories early on.

    I see that Dark Crystal is instant stream on Netflix; I just popped myself some popcorn too….seems it’s in the cards that I watch right now! 🙂

  3. 6 evil_genius_180
    December 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I’ve never even heard of it. Granted, I’m only 33 years old (you do the math on how old I was when it came out :P) and I’m not much into fantasy, but I may give it a whirl anyway. Those screenshots look really cool. Amazon has it for less than $10 on Blu-Ray, $6.99 for DVD, though I don’t know if I want to buy it or watch it first and then decide. Maybe I’ll go the Netflix route, as Deanne mentioned. 🙂

    • 7 DeanneM
      December 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      lol not hard to do the math…30th Anniversary…HA!

    • 8 johneaves
      December 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      EVIL G!!!!!!!! how fun, go get it however you can and get ready for a fun ride,,,, Remember how Yoda died and slowly vanished from under the blankets,, That idea was created and executed a much better in this one! and I have to mention that there is no CGI to take away from the physical magic going on here.

      • 9 evil_genius_180
        December 18, 2012 at 9:23 pm

        Of course there’s no CGI. I’ve seen CGI from 1982, it wasn’t ready for doing big time effects back then. 😉

        Even though I love CGI (obviously) I feel sometimes that it’s used as a crutch these days. I like work by directors like Christopher Nolan, who uses CGI only when there’s no other way to get something done.

      • 10 johneaves
        December 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm

        I agree and love what Nolan does,,,

  4. December 19, 2012 at 3:07 am

    What a great film, I have only seen it once when I was a small kid.
    Loved every moment of it. Jim Henson was a genius, but so is his son Brian Henson.
    all the work that comes out Jim Henson Productions are worth watching. Still a big fan of Farscape. (shame that got canciled.)

    Whats a bigger shame is that The Dark Crystal does not get show on TV enough!!

  5. 14 Robert Minnes
    December 19, 2012 at 8:31 am

    As I’m reading all of John’s entries about all these movies, I’ve come to realize that the 1980s were a wondrous and marvelous time for movie lovers, especially those who enjoyed the more visual effects laden ones. Especially ILM, who in my modest opinion were at the top of their game, at the time, revolutionized the way we enjoyed our visual effects laden movies in a way not before seen, letting us experience thrills that were new and exciting. Though CGI has made great strides since then, somehow it does not have quite the same effect on me as back then, but maybe it’s because I’m getting old and jaded, who knows…

    The Dark Crystal was no exception, I remember it fondly, as it was as far as I remember the very first fairy tale/fantasy movie that had a somewhat darker theme about it, paving the way for later, more adult orientated fairy tale movies that seem to be quite in vogue these days. To date I consider it the finest movie that employed the nowadays near dead art of puppeteering, and the the production value of that movie was beyond excellence for its dreamy and mystical sense of feeling it had back then…Well, my two cents

    Bytheby, for those wanting to delve somewhat deeper into CGI, you might want to check out the article I’ve endeavored to write on Memory Alpa on the subject…It’s my attempt to explain the history and terminology on the subject for the layman (as am I). Though out of necessity written from a Star Trek point of view, I think it can also give the average (like me) person a general idea what it is all about…


  6. 17 starhawk
    December 19, 2012 at 11:24 am

    This looks like a wonderful film to see… I’ll have to find it somewhere.

  7. 19 Scott D
    December 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    A classic movie. I remember watching it as a kid.

    I heard that they were planning to make a Part 2, but shelved the idea. If they ever do get it back into production, wonder if the would use the classic puppetry or would they use CGI?

    • 20 johneaves
      December 19, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      Hard to say but looks like it is down forever,, Brian Froud was a huge part of the sequels production and would love to see what he was up to.

  8. 21 Trekcross
    December 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I do not know if you remember or not, but back in the days there was some company that did oversized comics of some movies, and this was one of three of those large comics I had. The other two being 2010: An odyssy continues and Battlestar Galactica the movie. I wonder if I still have those in storage somewhere….

  9. December 23, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    I started this one, but haven’t finished it! Guess this is the kick in der rear that I need to finish it! Thanks for sharing, John!!

  10. 24 Rolando
    December 25, 2012 at 1:25 am

    I bought the DVD for my then 10 year old daughter, she’s 17 now! It has a cool option to watch with just the music audio (no dialog or sound fx) and enjoy it with subtitles. Great movie.

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December 2012

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