Friday, 26 November 2010
Dark Crystal (1982)
Critical reception for the film was mixed, with the fantastical world created by visual designer Brian Froud being criticised as "busy" and a "visual muddle" by New York Times film critic Vincent Canby. In particular, the forests, populated by a variety of fantastical plants and creatures, were criticised for distracting the viewer from the action.
From a technical point of view, the film is a masterpiece of puppetry and animatronics, with every character, creature and even some of the plants brought to life by the team from Henson's Creature Works. These puppets represent the cutting edge of animatronic technology, and can be extremely convincing. The film takes full advantage of the technical possibilities afforded by the use of puppets, especially the death scene of the evil Skeksis emperor in which he literally turns to dust and crumbles in front of the camera.
Although the backgrounds of the film are a masterpiece of set design, the story revolves around the cast of fantastical characters that inhabit them, particularly the vulture-like Skeksis and the elfin Gelflings. In addition to these groups, there are several unique characters, particularly the wisened old oracle Aughra with her lone removable eye and skreeching voice. In fact, the Variety film review says "The outstanding character is the Aughra, an ancient one-eyed harridan of an oracle who somehow reminds one of a truly blowsy Shelley Winters."
film review notes, "(the film is an)...adventure made the more fantastic by being neither animation nor live human action ... but live puppet action."