For some reason, the Major Spoilers Crew veered off into talking about the Dark Crystal, and decided to examine the 27 year old film that has gained a huge cult following on the next podcast.

The Dark Crystal is a cult 1982 fantasy film directed by puppeteers Jim Henson and Frank Oz, creators of The Muppet Show. Although still marketed as a family film, it was notably darker than previous material created by them. Characters for which they are famous do not appear, but some of the same performers are used. The animatronics used in the film were considered groundbreaking at the time. The primary concept artist was the fantasy illustrator Brian Froud, famous for his distinctive faeriedwarf designs. Froud also cooberated with Jim Henson and Frank Oz for their next project, the 1986 film Labyrinth which was notably more light-hearted than The Dark Crystal.

As always,  the Major Spoilers Podcast is nothing without comments from great readers and listeners like you.  You can use the comment section below, drop us a voice mail by calling (785) 727-1939, or record your comments and send it as an MP3 file in an email to podcast@majorspoilers.com.

We really want to include a lot of voice mails in our episodes.  Here’s your chance to be heard on the show!  Give us a shout out about the Dark Crystal, the state of the comic book industry, or anything else that might be on your mind.  Only the most awesome comments (good or bad) make it on the show, so get your stuff to us right away!

We record the new show Tuesday night, so make sure you have your contribution to us by 5:00 PM CST Tuesday evening.

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. Lifeisaglitch
    March 9, 2009 at 5:09 pm — Reply

    Ugh horrible movie… NOSTALGIA (by Veidt…) is making you guys..nay, you poor elderly gentlemen blind. This fantasy muppet movie is baaaad. Im sure the guys that made these muppets have a long and rich history but this movie does not deserve too be a main topic X__X

    I mean its not like there arent better movies from that period you could talk about…Then again i have faith in you guys making a discussion around this movie entertaining anyway.
    BUT you are going to owe us a discussion centering around The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and the Aardman Animations. And dont pretend those seperately wouldnt be much more topic worthy.

    Stupid individual opinions why cant people see im always right…

    Oh and regarding comics when are we going to be treated too some Y: The last man?

    • March 9, 2009 at 10:21 pm — Reply

      Lifesaflitch: As we like to tell Cory (when he appears to poop on everything) “in your opinion” (Smiley Face) Remember, not all the things we discuss are going to be to everyone’s liking. I’m actually interested in talking about the film as I haven’t seen it in about 20 years, so I’m interested in seeing if it still holds up, or if my views have changed from when I last saw it (i’m sitting down to watch it very soon).

      In regards to your suggestions. There have been several Y requests, but since none of us own the trades, it will be a while before I can get copies for the three of us to dive through. Plus Y is such a long series, we will probably not get through the entire series in one sitting, so you may have to settle for the first trade ala our Knights of the Old Republic review from a couple of months ago.

      I’ve put it on the list, along with Iron Giant (one of my all time favorite animated films), and we’ll see where it falls on the list. Again, anyone is welcome to contact us at our phone number, directly via email, or in the comment section to offer up suggestions for the show – the worst we can say is “Oh Hellz No!”. (Smiley face).

  2. Ricco
    March 9, 2009 at 6:31 pm — Reply

    I saw this first when I was a kid, I didn’t like it ‘cuz it was too dark.

    P.S.- I have an idea for a robot fight: Motoko Kusanagi “Mayor” from Ghost in the Shell Vs. Aphrodite IX from the comic of the same name.

  3. March 9, 2009 at 11:15 pm — Reply

    I don’t own the trades, but I do own the issssssuuuuuues.

    Because I buy things one month at a time, the way I pay for my cars…

  4. March 9, 2009 at 11:43 pm — Reply

    So, when does this podcast go live? I LOVE the Dark Crystal; an enduringly awesome movie.

  5. March 10, 2009 at 12:11 am — Reply

    JasonBL: Early Wednesday morning.

  6. March 10, 2009 at 1:27 am — Reply

    I am gonna try to rewatch it before the podcast airs. I love all things Jim Henson and The Dark Crystal is a great example of just how much of an imagination Henson had. The fight between the bad guys after their leader dies is one of the only places where things look “Muppety” and the movie is as weird as it is good. Can’t wait to hear what the guys have to say about this one.

  7. Salieri
    March 10, 2009 at 4:12 am — Reply

    As a sick 9-year-old, it was perhaps the most inspiring movie I’d ever seen at that age, almost (but not quite) career-defining; as it was a VCR, I watched the “Making Of” Section afterward, and was in awe of Henson and his team going out and crafting an entirely new world, flora, fauna and natural laws, like Tolkien or Swift before them…after finding out the origin of those extremely long-legged packhorse beasts (a guy using four pairs of spring-stilts), I was almost furious with jealousy. I wanted to be out there, creating new worlds and then exploring them as they unfolded.

    Of course, these days, we have CGI to do everything for us, so that sort of experience is nigh-on impossible. The last time I heard of a Director wanting to use puppets as opposed it computers, it was Alfonso Cuaron with “Prisoner of Azkaban”, and he was flat-out refused. It’s a damn shame, because in my opinion using computers is very much the lazier option. The Dark Crystal took days of sketching, scuplting, developing new techniques, etc…the same amount of time that, these days, it would take to animate half an hour’s worth of CGI models talking to nothing.

    Sorry, rant-ramble. Anyway: The Dark Crystal is to Henson as Measure For Measure is to Shakespeare…a brilliant, dark and beautiful piece of work that is overshadowed by his more popular, lighter masterpieces; but it still has a following that will never forget it. I think that Jim would have been pleased to hear so.

  8. Salieri
    March 10, 2009 at 4:58 am — Reply

    However, having said that I think I can retract my statement – it’s less the use of CGI that brings down a movie and more about how it is used. For the most part, you could easily create a comparative list of the best and worst examples of each animation medium:

    CGI: Wall-E, Kung-Fu Panda Ratatouille…Hoodwinked, Open Season, Surf’s Up;

    Traditional Animation: The Road To El Dorado, Aladdin, Anything done by Studio Ghibli…Hercules, The Black Cauldron, any of the Lion King sequels

    Puppetry: The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth…Gremlins, Puppet Master

    Additionally, there’s perfectly good examples of several animation styles working together – e.g., CGI & Stop-Motion Puppets in Henry Selick’s classic Nightmare Before Christmas. What really clinches the deal with a piece of work is the ability to plan, to think, to be able to instantly answer any random question on the world you’ve created, off the top of your head. This was why Tolkien despised the Chronicles of Narnia, despite being C. S. Lewis’ close friend; while he’d spent years plotting the exact ecosystems, races, laws of Middle Earth, Lewis had cobbled together a Child-Friendly Bible with a Dragon ere, a Dwarf there and one or two armies of stereotyped foreigners.

    Henson, in Crystal, wasn’t just re-thinking the way that we could use FX, but also the way we use stories; unlike the majority of Kid’s films made then and since, there isn’t any rigid definition of “Good” or “Evil”. The Mystics are repressed, nomadic shamans who do no harm to anyone; yet the wisest of them all regrets not acting sooner in informing his Gelfling ward about his destiny. The Skesies are domineering, tyrannical despots; yet at the same time, they are constantly portrayed as animals, not choosing to be bad but obeying their base instincts, roaring and hissing and posturing. And then there’s that final scene wherein they are combined into completely ambiguous figures not unlike the Judeo-Christian model of God, bringing peace to the land and to Jen and Kira – who, themselves, are left as figures similar to Adam and Eve, unaware of Good an Evil, wishing only to remain together and live in peace in a Paradisal Garden.

    In terms of the sheer, epic scope of The Dark Crystal, there are still plenty of works; I have high hopes for the upcoming Coraline, adapted by the great Henry Selick from Neil Gaiman’s novel, and 9, the post-apocalyptic survival story by newcomer Shane Acker…which, despite the involvement of Tim Burton, looks like it could be this generations’ equivalent of Henson’s masterpiece.

    Eh. Only time will tell.

  9. March 10, 2009 at 8:35 am — Reply

    How about a BTiLC live-commentary episode? I could bring my Jack Burton figure along too.

  10. hermit
    March 10, 2009 at 8:37 am — Reply

    i pwersonnally don’t like Dark Crystal, put i like the puppets. my roommate is in absolute love with it though.

    you should’ve gone with labyrinth.

  11. March 10, 2009 at 12:11 pm — Reply

    I also have Wang-Chi, I could have gotten a Lo Pan MISB but my wife said I couldn’t spend $150.00 on him.

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