Dark Crystal (1982)

Genre: Adventure, Animated Adventure | Age: 8-9


Ages 4 & Under Nightmares
Ages 5 to 7 With Guidance
Ages 8 to 9 Yes
Ages 10 to 12 Yes
Ages 13-15 Yes
Ages 15 to 17 Probably

Dark Crystal (1982)

PUPPET ADVENTURE: 1982, PG. A mythical, ancient land is devastated because a piece of a magic crystal is missing. The cruel, vulture-like Skeksis and the gentle Mystics occupy the land. To save the land, the Mystics summon a Gelfling (an elf/fairy), Jen – the only survivor of Skeksis genocide. When Jen’s teacher dies, he goes on a quest to rescue the crystal shard and save the land. He visits a wise old woman, Augra, who consults her armillary sphere and finds that at the time of the conjunction of the three suns, there will be both an ending and a beginning of the world. Jen gets the shard and meets a female Gelfling, Kira. Together they go to the Skeksis’ castle. Kira is captured and tortured, but she calls on the captive animals to free themselves and kill the Skeksis. After many other narrow escapes, the crystal is complete. Kira, stabbed to death by a Skeksis, but quickly returns to life. Under the power of the restored crystal, the evil Skeksis and gentle Mystics reunite into the original beings who existed before the crystal was broken.

VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: All the creatures of this world are rather strange and grotesque (more strange than frightening), they may be scary to the very young. However, the crab-like soldiers are the stuff of nightmares. One of the Skeksis dies and disintegrates on-screen. The Gelflings and their friends are constantly stalked and attacked by various terrors. Several creatures die screaming. Kira is stabbed to death but soon returns to life.

CRIMES: Murder (P), Genocide (U).

MORALS, ISSUES & VALUES: The crystal resurrects the dead and gives the dying life. Jen has self-doubts which he overcomes and succeeds because of his education at the hands of the Mystic master. There is a power struggle among the Skeksis for succession to the throne. Rather than fight each other, the Skeksis whack away at a large stone, but the loser is nevertheless stripped of his clothes and banished. The Skeksis keep slaves and have terrible table manners. To make slaves docile, they drain the “vital essence” from them which the emperor then drinks for temporary rejuvenation. In the end, the evil Skeksis and the kindly Mystics combine to become balanced beings.
SEXUALITY & GENDER ISSUES: The gender of the Skeksis and Mystics is unclear. While Jen was taught about words and numbers, Kira learned about the plants and animals. Both skills are necessary to their success. Kira also knows how to fight.

SUBSTANCES: The Skeksis drink wine with dinner.

COMMENTS: Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, here produces a rich, beautiful and elaborate fantasy world that is a cross between Yoda, the Brothers Grimm and Tolkein. While the film may be scary in parts, the visual richness and mind-boggling imagination is worth the effort. And the moral issues it addresses are complex while still something youngsters can grasp. A delight.

STARRING: Jim Henson, Kathryn Mullen, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Brian Muehl, Jean Pierre Amiel, Kiran Shah.

ALTERNATES: Other imaginative films of this type without the depressing under tones are “Willow,” “The Princess Bride,” “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T,” and “The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao.”


Nudity 0
Sex 0
Physical Violence 2
Emotional Stress 3
Blood 0
Language/Profanity 0
Immorality 1
Parental Guidance 2
Watchability for Adults 3
Overall 4
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Copyright Arthur Taussig 2024