This one's still a Must-See!

This one’s still a Must-See!

For a long time I have heard of an unseen version of an absolutely terrific 1982 puppet film known as The Dark Crystal. A version with alternate scenes, the voice-overs cut out and a completely different language for the Skeksis, the villains of the film, which would supposedly add to the film’s surreality, whimsical tone and artistic feel until the makers were sadly forced to change it for the sake of mass appeal.

The Dark Crystal was the first DVD me and my family ever owned, one of the most important films of my childhood and by now one of the most meaningful motion pictures of my life in general. I own a volume of the graphic novel as well as the World of The Dark Crystal book, but I truly never thought the time would never arrive when I, apart from a few extra scenes on the DVD, got to see the movie as originally intended by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. That time, ladies and gentlemen, is now!

I am not kidding, dear readers. An original director’s cut/workprint of The Dark Crystal is currently up on YouTube and I urge you to go see it if it still even exists there by the time I upload this article. This here is a gem of cinema history!

Remember Star Wars: Deleted Magic, a fan cut of Star Wars: A New Hope which featured additional scenes with restored footage that had previously never been seen by anyone but the cast and crew, neither in the theatre nor as a DVD extra? Well, now the same thing has happened with The Dark Crystal. In some ways it is an improvement of the magical and whimsical tone, in others it’s a somewhat drawn-out version that could benefit from at least a few more lines of dialogue. I will say, though, that many parts of the original dialogue make more sense in the context of certain visuals and character actions than the dialogue in the finished cut.

The film is, as promised, more surreal and visual in this cut. The sound design/quality is not as good but who cares? It exists! That’s what’s important. It is exactly what us fans wanted to see and exactly what we now have.

Watching this film again has been fascinating! Watching all these characters in a different light – Jen, Kira, Fizzgig, Aughrah, The Skeksis, The Mystics (called urRu in the original script, as well as referred to as such in this version), The Podlings, The Garthim – was a nostalgically charming delight and all the added footage, different dialogue and more surreal tone has most certainly added to this film’s status as one of my favourite films of all time. Kudos to whoever put this together and made me feel as though Christmas arrived early this year!

5/5 whatever