Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Dark Crystal

This film is Dark Crystal directed by Frank Oz and Jim Henson, the movie is enriched with amazing creature design and puppets along side surreal fantasy worlds. The theme of the story is typical about a magical artifact that has been broken and caused the world to split good verses evil, replacing the missing shard will restore the balance. “but all of it wrapped up in a wonderful adventure made the more fantastic by being neither animation nor live human action ... but live puppet action.” (Andrew L Urban, http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=14339&s=DVD ) This point made by Urban reminds us of the lack of technology of the period but also how successful this film was because of the exploration of puppetry. The skesis are the iconic villians in the film as they look like deformed vultures and each have there own unique grotesque appearance and characteristics, for example the scientist has a glass eye stereotypical of a mad professor. They control the power of the dark crystal and proclaim themselves 'lords' because they can use this source of energy to enslave and destroy the creatures. The mystics in comparrison are much more peaceful and slow, that have the appearance of gentle giants. They are grouped together in a tribe and when gathered there is a sense of a spirutal ceremony repected life and the world around them. The gelflings are the typical hero stereotype of being few in number and have a great prophecy to vanquish evil, in appearance they look similar to a child through purity and innocense. The scene where Jen the main character throws away the shard and relinquishes responsability is typical of an adolescent giving up when the pressure gets too high.

The costumes were designed according to the the creature and the space they inhabited, the best example of this is the skesis because they wear tattered robes morphed with ribcages or spines of skeletons to connect with the structure of the castle around them. The mystics wear plain ceremonial robes to represent their age and wisdom, they also carry staffs to show they are humble and have no desire to conquer the world but only to teach their knowledge to the creatures willing to learn. The gelflings wear simple basic cloth because their child/elf like appearance immediately identifies their purpose within the realms of the story. “This may not have the elegance of an animated film but there’s a tactile feel to proceedings, which is lacking in the modern world of shiny CGI.” (David Bishop , The Dark Crystal - Review of 1982 Jim Henson/Franz Oz film http://www.suite101.com/content/the-dark-crystal---review-of-1982-jim-hensonfranz-oz-film-a264150#ixzz15R4TJvYs) this clarfies that even though the effects is outmatched compared to the impressive CG charaters and environments created with today's modern technology, there is something in this film that is more true within the concept of the film that is lost in the movies today because they focus more on design than the general feel and emotion of the storyline.


The sets helped to tie the tale of dream - like fantasy and in some places felt fairy tale with enchanting forests and dark spooky castles. "Henson’s world is an ambitious mix of dark shadows, strange flora and bizarre creatures. Although it’s made entirely from fabric, plastics and other craft store supplies, this is a place of enchantment.” (Ryan Cracknell, http://www.filmthreat.com/reviews/3142/#ixzz15R3LpNTI) this indicates that the amazing environments and creatures were man made but this simply forgotten when the elements came together to produce worlds of Henson's vision because the filming loses the care and creation of the fabric, plastic, etc and becomes a new quality of fantasy. The environments showed the comparrison life style of the good and evil characters. The mystics live in a rocky cayon and the space was very natural and primitive, which suited their characteristics. It was a good first space for the character Jen to hide and learn the teachings of the mystics as it was a barren waste land with no other life forms. Aughra's research tower was futuristic, the interior filled with all sort of telescopes and plantery contraptions to capture the cramped busy life style of an ambigtous star gazer. The forest and marshland that base the hideout of Kira the girl gelfling and the pod people has much fairy tale enchantment and is peaceful with amount of natural flora growing growing within the space. The skesis castle has a lot of spectular spaces and more of the memorable scenes, insipired by caverns and skeletal forms to represent the structures of the underground passage, the dark crystal chamber and throne room. The dinner party scene was good representation of the skesis and the grotesque environment because they all sat round a long table with high chairs eating the creatures that were added into the space trying to escape. It is also a reflection of the bad habitats that some people have in reality, talking with a mouth full of food and scoffing down food quickly causing digusting sounds.

The light effects explored how the space is described more throughly, the best examples are the scenes in the skesis castle. In the laboratory there was a section of rock that opened and the crystal lowered releasing it's power on a creature to obtain it's essence. A strong purple light highlighted on the character's face was used to indicate the crystals hold and power over the creatures free will. The chamber behind the rock had a bold red light to represent the lava below it. Other effects include the typical blue filter to represent night so that all the detail of the space is not lost and sunlight which made certain scenes seem more realistic because of the surfaces reflected it and the characters. The best lighting was used for the crystal itself as shown clearly in the scene where Jen leaps on top of it, with the strange purple glow showing it's evil and broken. This is suddenly transformed when Jen plunges the shard into the crystal which sets off a reaction of amazing white light shone in all directions of the space and indicating that it is complete once more.


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