The Dark Crystal Movie Poster

Trivia for The Dark Crystal

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  • This movie made slightly over forty million dollars from a fifteen million dollar budget. Many parents felt the movie was too scary for their children.
  • Jim Henson personally trimmed twenty minutes from this movie after a disastrous preview in San Francisco, California. He also ordered many of the character voices re-dubbed to eliminate some of the invented character languages, making this movie more accessible and the plot easier to follow.
  • Pre-production work revolved around Brian Froud's designs, without a finished script. When Froud originally presented Jim Henson with concept drawings for the crystal, Henson seemed perplexed. When Froud asked why, Henson said he had no idea what the designs were for. Froud had misunderstood Henson during early production conversations; Henson intended to call the movie "The Dark Chrysalis", referring to the Skeksis dominance over the world. Henson, however, loved the concept art, and integrated the idea of the crystal into the storyline.
  • The Garthim costumes were so heavy that the performers had to be hung up on a rack every five minutes to rest while still in costume.
  • The little hairy things that crawl across and that the Creatures eat are modified wind-up toy robots that run like crazy on two legs as a round rolling central body that houses the wind up motor. The wind-up key was removable.
  • Brian Froud's fascination with lobsters led to many crustacean touches in the design of this movie, particularly in the design of the Garthim, the henchmen of the Skeksis.
  • Although there are nine of them, the Skeksis were originally based on the seven deadly sins.
  • The Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray feature several "workprint" takes showing early passes at dialogue. This early voice-over work differs from the final dialogue in several ways: the Skeksis speak in a foreign language, Frank Oz provided the voice of Aughra (sounding very similar to his voice work for Yoda in the Star Wars movies), and the Mystics were referred to by (presumably) their original name, the ur-Ru. The novelization was apparently based on this earlier version, referring to the "Trial By Stone" contest by its original name, "Hakskeekah", and calling the Mystics the ur-Ru. In the final movie, one reference to ur-Ru was not redubbed: when the Mystics enter the Skeksis Great Hall, SkekOk, the Scrollkeeper sees them and shouts "Ur-Ru!" Also, in the German dubbed version, the Mystics are also referred to as ur-Ru. The filmmaker's decision to rename them came too late for the German dialogue track, which was already in the making at the time.
  • In France and Japan, this was the highest-grossing box-office release of 1983.
  • At the time it was made, it was hailed as the only live-action movie in which a human character makes no appearance. With the exception of some wide shots of the Gelflings, it would've been the first live-action movie where no human actors appeared.
  • Early drafts of the script featured Jen and Kira travelling through the underworld, where they encountered a race of underground mining creatures. The concept was later integrated into Fraggle Rock (1983).
  • Conceptual Designer Brian Froud was behind the look and feel of virtually every aspect of the production, from creatures and landscapes right down to the font of the opening title. In total, it took up five years of his life.
  • Conceptual Artist Brian Froud and Puppet Designer Wendy Midener met on the set of this movie and were later married. Their son Toby Froud would work on the prequel series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019) as a designer 37 years later.
  • This movie was banned in several Islamic countries due to content that was deemed sacreligious. Every Arabic-dubbed and Farsi-dubbed copy was destroyed by censors.
  • In February 1978, Jim Henson and his daughter Cheryl found themselves stuck at an airport hotel when Kennedy Airport was struck by a snowstorm. They worked out the details of this movie's world on numerous sheets of hotel note paper. The notes became inspiration for a screenplay. Work on this movie didn't begin in earnest until 1979, after the completion of The Muppet Movie (1979), which was shot in Los Angeles, California. This movie was shot in England, back-to-back with The Great Muppet Caper (1981).
  • Jim Henson offered twenty-two-year-old puppeteer Kevin Clash a job on this movie, but since Clash was busy with Captain Kangaroo (1955) and The Great Space Coaster (1981), he had to turn it down. Nevertheless, Clash afterwards became a regular member of Henson's puppeteer team, performing in several productions of his, notably as Elmo in Sesame Street media. He would later work as a puppeteer on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019), the movie's prequel series.
  • When Jim Henson and Brian Froud were still developing the story, they published a twenty-page presentation booklet titled "The Crystal" to pitch this movie to potential backers. In this booklet, which was reproduced in the 2003 version of "The World of the Dark Crystal" book, all of the characters and species save Jen have slightly different names: Skekses instead of Skeksis; Oo-urs instead of Uru/Mystics; Dee instead of Kira; Earth-People instead of Pod People, and Garthem instead of Garthim.
  • Brian Froud based the Mystics on a previously designed troll from his 1977 book "The Land of Froud". In order to keep the two creatures separate for licensing purposes, he designed the Mystics to have four arms. This way Froud would keep copyright of his trolls while Jim Henson got the right to the Mystics. The Skeksis also have four arms, but their second set, a pair of tiny chicken legs beneath their shoulder blades, are mostly hidden from view. The only time you can catch a glimpse of them in this movie is after the Chamberlain has been stripped of his robes.
  • Two other actresses were considered for voice of Aughra. The first had to pull out and was never recorded. The second choice can be heard on the bootlegged "Director's Cut", but she was deemed too difficult to understand by a test audience. Third choice Billie Whitelaw finally recorded the version as heard in this movie.
  • The name which Jim Henson came up for the planet on which this movie takes place was "Mithra". When some people thought this sounded to much like a Persian god, the name was changed to "Nithra", and then finally shortened to "Thra". Although the name is never mentioned in the movie, it is widely used in subsequent sequel novels, as well as the TV series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019).
  • Jim Henson's original name for Aughra was "Habeetabat". Although he and Screenwriter David Odell were fond of this name, Brian Froud was not. Froud's first concept sketches made the character into an ogre-like character, so for a while she was renamed "Ogra", before finally settling on "Aughra".
  • Originally, the Skeksis and Mystics were supposed to speak in their own alien languages (the Skeksis version being a more crude version of the Mystic language) and David Odell developed words for the actors to speak on-set. Ultimately, the only word in the Skeksis language that remains in this movie is "Haakskeeka", meaning "Judgement by stone". After the first test screening, British science fiction writer Alan Gardner was brought in to write an opening narration for this movie and Odell had to "translate" his Skeksis dialogue back into English, all the while making sure the lines matched the creature's mouth movements on-screen.
  • It was Frank Oz's Idea for Kira to have a pet, Fizzgig, similar to Miss Piggy's little dog Foo Foo, who at that time had recently been added to The Muppet Show (1976). Jim Henson only reluctantly agreed, because he did not like repeating himself.
  • Jim Henson's plan with this movie was to get back to the darkness of original Brothers Grimm fairy tales. He felt that children liked the idea of being scared and that this was a healthy emotion for them with which to deal.
  • Executive Producer Sir Lew Grade sold his ITC Film Entertainment company to businessman Robert Holmes à Court who had no faith in the finished product, based on bad test screenings. As it looked like Holmes à Court was going to bury this movie, Jim Henson bought the property back and funded its own release.
  • Jen the Gelfling was originally supposed to be blue in homage to the Hindu god Rama.
  • The last movie of Cinematographer Oswald Morris before he retired.
  • The sixteenth highest grossing movie in North America in 1982.
  • Jim Henson's brief to Designer Brian Froud for the Skeksis was that they should resemble crocodiles living in a castle.
  • During production, the rumor mill suggested that this movie was a huge folly and would be a disaster. Those theories were swiftly put to bed when this movie began screening and audiences were positively impressed by what they had just seen.
  • In Bernie Brillstein's autobiography, he notes that Jim Henson originally did not want to license Merchandise for his children's show Sesame Street. He advised Jim Henson that the money could be used for projects he was passionate about. Years later when Bernie Brillstein had objections to The Dark Crystal's escalating budget, Henson reminded Brill stein of his own advice.
  • The invented language of the podlings in the movie and the character of Kira, when she is speaking to animals, actually contains several Croatian/Serbian/Bosnian words. They are poorly pronounced, but easily intelligible. "Hvala vam", "dobro", "dodji", "dolje", and others. They are not randomly placed either, but are used properly in the situations.
  • According to Duncan Kenworthy in the book "No Strings Attached - The Inside Story of Jim Henson's Creature Shop", the original idea was for the Gelflings to speak English, the Skeksis in Greek and the Mystics Egyptian, the latter two being subtitled. This, however, is not reflected in footage from deleted scenes and the work-print, in which the Skeksis speak a fictional language.
  • It has been widely speculated that it was Jim Henson who directed the "good guy" scenes (Scenes involving the Gelflings, Mystics and other characters), and it was Frank Oz who directed the "bad guy" scenes (Scenes involving the Skeksis and Garthim) .
  • Director and Puppeteer Frank Oz adamantly denies that he and Jim Henson ever considered ideas for a sequel, and has publicly denounced any attempts to make one. Nevertheless, several sequel novels and comic books have been released since then. The Jim Henson Company began touting plans for a sequel in the mid 2000s, and their plans finally came to fruition with the Netflix prequel series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019).
  • In May 2017, it was announced that Netflix is producing a prequel television series to this movie titled The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019), and that the prequel series will take place on Thra several hundred years before Jen embarked on his quest to find the missing crystal shard to The Dark Crystal. The prequel series premiered on August 30, 2019.
  • Aughra is played by actor Mike Edmonds. The voice is provided by Billie Whitelaw.
  • Lisa Maxwell (voice of Kira) appeared as Detective Inspector Samantha Nixon in The Bill (1984).
  • Talented dwarf actors Mike Edmonds, Deep Roy, Jack Purvis, Malcolm Dixon, and others were used for the shots where the characters are seen walking, picking up objects, climbing, and running, which they were dressed up as the characters in the movie.
  • Aughra is based after a Stygian witch from Greek mythology.
  • Fizzgig, Kira's pet, is a cross between a dog and a lion.
  • Notable in that this film shares two talents of Star Wars fame: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) producer Gary Kurtz co-produced The Dark Crystal (1982) with Jim Henson; Henson recommended to George Lucas that Dark Crystal's co-director Frank Oz play Yoda in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
  • As of 2018, Universal Pictures still owns the theatrical rights to this movie.
  • The reason Universal Pictures was only the theatrical distributor of the movie (and continued to retain rights to theatrical re-releases) and never got home video rights is because ITC Entertainment sold their share back to The Jim Henson Company, who had control over home video distribution. They made a deal with Disney and one with Sony (Columbia-TriStar) in the 1990s. Even though later on they made deals with Hit Entertainment, Lionsgate, and Vivendi Entertainment. This movie, Labyrinth (1986), and The Storyteller (1987) video rights have always remained with Sony.
  • The symbol on the dying Skeksis Emperor's scepter is a perverted or broken version of the Ouroboros, according to its designer, Brian Froud. Earlier in this movie, the dying Mystic Master has a similar symbol, albeit a softer version, on a staff in the background of his hut, indicating the link between the Mystic Master and the Skeksis Emperor.
  • When the Chamberlain and the Garthim Master compete for the title of Emperor, they are each supported by two other Skeksis. The Chamberlain has the Designer and the Gourmet to back him up and the Garthim Master has the support of the Scientist and the Slave Master. In the finished film these competing factions can still be made out during the Hakskeekah ritual. Additionally, there was to be a third Skeksis vying for the throne, the Ritual Master, and his supporters were the Treasurer and the Historian. These three remain more or less neutral during the scene.
  • The novelization by A.C.H. Smith features several scenes in which the Skeksis are accompanied by a choir of Podling slaves, singing for them. This slave choir can be seen in the background during the opening scene, although they are not heard. In the TV series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019), a group of Podling musicians can be seen playing an organ for the Skeksis at their request.
  • Co-Directors Jim Henson and Frank Oz were in charge of every aspect of this movie, but according to Henson, his own strengths lay in composing camera shots and movement, while Oz was more in tune with character development and the dynamics of a scene.
  • In the documentary, The World of "The Dark Crystal" (1983), behind the scenes footage is shown of the scene in which Jen and Kira enter the catacombs beneath the castle. Frank Oz is seen operating a stalagmite that bends as if pointing the way. This detail is not visible in the finished movie.
  • This movie received mixed reviews. Some praised its technical aspects and some enjoyed it, but many found the puppet approach to be unrealistic and distracting (particularly the stone-faced gelfling), and the voicing to be over the top. In any case, this movie did fairly well at the box-office.
  • The Landstriders were originally conceived as "Landspiders" and various brainstorming sessions were held to decide how best to create and perform such a creature. When Robbie Barnett first proposed using stilts to create the look of the Landstriders, each creature was to be played by two performers, giving it a total of six legs: two long front and middle appendages (the performer in front) and two shorter ones in the back ( the second performer). This idea was soon discarded for being too difficult and four legs were settled upon.
  • Scientist skekTek's mechanical eye was made using a Star Wars TIE fighter cockpit as a model.
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