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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Dark Crystal, although a Jim Henson puppet creature feature, is no Muppet Movie. Instead, it takes place in a dangerous otherworld where dark forces have taken over, and human-like beings called gelflings are rounded up, strapped to chairs with big needles, and drained of their "essence" for decrepit, dinosaur-like skeksis (pretty scary creatures, but also big buffoons). This movie isn't for everyone, and surely not for sensitive little ones , but for the right tween just getting into fantasy books, this will rock their world.
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What's the story?
On a faraway planet, a handful of decrepit, dinosaur-like creatures called Skeksis rule, thanks to the power and longevity granted them by a large, cracked gem -- THE DARK CRYSTAL. Long ago the Skeksis massacred a peaceful race called Gelflings because of a prophecy that warned about a Gelfing being able to "heal" the crystal and end the Skeksis' reign. Jen, a lone Gelfling raised by gentle monster mystics, is sent by his dying master to find the missing piece of the Dark Crystal and fulfill the prophecy. On the way, Jen discovers that he's not the last of his kind -- he finds Kira in a community of fun-loving "Podlings." But the Skeksis know of the Gelflings, and send warriors to intercept the heroes. With her village destroyed, Kira joins Jen on his quest for the Skeksis' castle.
Is it any good?
It's predictable -- you know the quest right up front -- but it's also a wonderful fantasy movie to get wrapped up in. Chanting, gentle mystics; long-legged Landstriders; a pushy she-ogre; and a roly-poly pet Fizzgig will keep fantasy-loving adults and kids old enough for the scary parts engaged.
Though some viewers (especially younger kids) may be tempted to close their eyes during the onslaught of the horrible garthim or the gruesome scene of podlings being drained of their "life essence," the sumptuous design will dare them not to look away. The team behind The Dark Crystal (including one of the original Star Wars producers, Gary Kurtz) supposedly researched the lore of numerous different cultures to help conceive their fantasy world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Jen accomplished his goals with the help of others, including Kira in The Dark Crystal. How hard or easy is it for the people in your family to accept help? What would you have done in Jen's place?
How is this story a hero's journey? What other stories follow the same formula?
- In theaters: December 17, 1982
- On DVD or streaming: August 14, 2007
- Cast: Dave Goelz, Frank Oz, Jim Henson, Kathryn Mullen
- Directors: Frank Oz, Jim Henson
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: December 1, 2020
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