Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Dark Crystal (1982)

Scanning through the list of films lined up for this project, the mention of the Dark Crystal brought back floods of memories from watching this film when was younger. I could remember most about the wonderful mystical creatures like the gentle Mystics, the pixie like Gelfling’s, funny yet loveable Fizzgig and not forgetting the grotesque Skeksis. Watching this film again allowed me to really appreciate how athletically remarkable the whole film is from the creature designs to the sets jammed with imaginative beauty that transport you into a world of fantasy.

“Everything in this film is so meticulously done, that it still lives on to this day. Computer effects be damned.” The fact this film was done entirely with puppets and built sets gives the film its rustic charm that even competes with the successes standards of animation in its visual beauty. If the film was to be animated I feel it would lose its magic because of the puppet movements of the characters adds to its overall charm. For example the twitchy movements of the Skeksis and the Jim Henson bobbing character walk used for the “child-like” tribe which is similar to that of the rats in the Muppets like Rizzo kind of like a scurrying trademark. However using puppets it will be almost impossible to achieve a full sense of realism which is achievable with CG but in this case puppetry works well with Brian Frouds fantasy style. Unfortunately because of the extensive financial cost of the production of the Dark Crystal struggled at the box office to produce profit.  
Full credit for the designs of this world bursting with imagination is fantasy concept artist Brian Froud he crams every single detail he can imagine into the every scene that everywhere you look.  It is very rare that one artist is assigned to develop the whole concept art for a film but that sets the Dark crystal apart making it highly stylised. It also makes it a golden opportunity to see inside the mind of one man’s vision of a whole world and how it all comes together. I didn’t realise how much detail and thought when into the whole vision of the world until I looked through the concept art book which shows every single piece of detail about every creature their habitat, maps of the land and a whole history! An extensive vision like this is way up there with the world of Avatar’s Pandora.   
Despite this at times I lost where I the storyline because my attention was either focusing on absorbing the scenery or being strangely hypnotised by the vile yet moronic nature of the Skeksis. Many film critiques have debated the target audience for this film because of the storyline being a little bit too complicated for that of children but the puppet style being to childish for adults. For me some of the scenes were a bit too scary for younger audiences, especially when I first watched this as a child I remembered being scared by the Skeksis and there foot soldiers. The way the creatures were designed makes them repulsive to look at a skeletal vulture figure with piercing sunken eyes and venial wrinkles. Even when re-watching the film I still found them haunting and I’m not the only one: 
“Kids may be both scared and enthralled by the scope and details, not to mention the graphic nature of the darker elements portrayed (as a kid I cringed a bit when the 'vital essence' scenes came up). And for adults there's a lot of great craftsmanship that goes into the story, which is with all of the effects and over-the-top creations very well told by directors Henson and Oz.”

No comments:

Post a Comment