The Dark Crystal (25th Anniversary Edition)
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Enjoy incredible footage from the Henson archives in THE DARK CRYSTAL. Travel back in time to the faraway planet of Thra. Cheer on the Mystics as they fight to overthrow the evil Skeksis and take back control of their planet! When Jen, a member of the Gelfling tribe, sets out to find the crystal's missing shard, his dangerous journey brings him face to face with monsters at every turn. Determined to restore peace to their planet, Jen will not back down! From the brilliant imagination of Jim Henson, this masterpiece of animation recounts the timeless tale of good vs. evil and has become a cult favorite of children and grown-ups alike!
- New High Definition Film Transfer
- New Commentary from Brian Froud
- Original Making of Documentary The World of the Dark Crystal
- Deleted Scenes
- Work Print Scenes
- Character Drawings
- Reflections of the Dark Crystal: Light on the Path of Creation & Shard of Illusion Two All-New behind the scenes documentaries that include rediscovered footage from the Henson archives and newly recorded interviews with the people who created The Dark Crystal
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Top Customer Reviews
The biggest aspect of Dark Crystal is the setting. They created a whole different world with its own animals, plants and terrain. The level of detail put into creating this new world is staggering and you get some good scenes to soak yourself up in it. From the rock caves of the Mystics to the jagged spires of the Skesis castle to Aughra's planetarium to every landscape in between. You will get drawn into this alien world. The beauty of the sets and location shots is only enhanced with some fantastic cinematography and conventional effects.
Since we are essentially talking about a puppet show brought to you as a feature film let's talk about the puppets. Granted they might seem a bit archaic by today's standards, they were nothing short of incredible back in 1982. To have puppets act and react in such an organic and lifelike fashion was never done on film before. This is the first movie where you get that sort of eye and mouth movements we have come so used to with current animatronics. Famed artist Brian Froud created all of the creatures and characters for Dark Crystal and if you're a fan of his work you will definitely see it. When you look at the majesty of the Mystics you forget they are just people covered in foam latex.
Of course having a truly creative setting and truly creative characters would not be enough to make a great movie. Lord knows fantasy fans have seen plenty of examples that prove that point. However this movie has a story that is as classic as any fable you have read before. By the time you finish this movie if will feel like you just read a grand fairy tale... only about wondrous and fantastic creatures never seen before. It's not deep storytelling. Then again it shouldn't be considering the mythical theme.
The soundtrack for this film is a perfect fit for the movie. The main themes are grand, dynamic and best of all memorable with a full orchestra giving the music vibrant life. Other pieces of the film work with what I can best describe as old western European instrumentation and themes, and again they work wonderfully. I can think of about a half dozen songs from the movie right now that would stick in my head in a good way if I let it. The music is that memorable. Okay... I do remember one song in the least useful scene (Skeksis banquet) in the movie that didn't impress me. But to be honest the music was fitting the scene, and the scene didn't impress me either.
The original release of this DVD had a host of wonderful extras that made it feel like the only DVD you would ever need. Then came the 25th Anniversary Edition, which gave an impressive upgrade to the visuals (I mean night and day difference) via a digital remaster, Dolby Digital Surround sound, a new commentary and some additional features. On a small note they took out the Spanish stereo track the original DVD had and included a surround track in Japanese.
Now we have the Blu-Ray. Even if you bought any of the previous releases (and all of them were worthy purchases at the time) you definitely want to make that double/triple dip. And I thought the Anniversary Edition was an amazing improvement. The details really, really stand out on the Blu-Ray. I see little details as plain as day that I never noticed before. It even gives new life to the aging puppets by bringing out even the subtlest of details. The sound is very much improved with Dolby TruHD in English, French and Portugese. A Dolby Digital surround Spanish track is finally included. Looks like they corrected the absence of the Spanish track on the Anniversary Edition, and then some. But then they take out the Japanese audio track. What's going on here? There are a few new extras on the Blu-Ray, but nothing that compares to the previous features. Here is a run down:
COMMENTARY BY BRIAN FROUD - Brian is the conceptual designer for the movie and essentially created the world for Jim Henson. He goes on about design techniques and how he came about the characters and inspirations for his work in The Dark Crystal.
WORLD OF THE DARK CRYSTAL - The most amazing "making of" documentary one can ever ask for. It details over an hour of footage regarding conceptual design, character creation, production, cinematography, the philosophy behind the creation of this movie and the world it is based on, and more. This documentary was made while the Dark Crystal was released so you get interviews with the man himself, Jim Henson, at the time of the movie along with scores of others involved in the movie. Most "making of" documentaries that come out with movies these days are little more than lip service to help promote the movie. I wish they would follow the model done on THIS documentary.
REFLECTIONS OF THE DARK CRYSTAL - Two-part featurette (Shard of Illusion [16 minutes] and Light on the Path of Creation [20 minutes]) with more recent interviews from writers, directors, and performers including co-writer David O'Dell, conceptual designer Brian Froud, and Jim Henson's son Brian. These featurettes also include newly discovered test footage from Jim Henson's home in England.
PICTURE-IN-PICTURE STORYBOARD TRACK - This is probably the best Blu-Ray exclusive feature in the set. As the titles describes you get a sizable window showing pre-production storyboards and conceptual drawings, each with descriptions of what you are seeing.
THE BOOK OF THRA: THE DARK CRYSTAL COLLECTOR - Hmm... is it a game? You click a button on the remote every time you see an icon appear. Not much of a game. Is it an in-movie encyclopedia? When you collect the entries in this Blu-Ray exclusive you get notes on various characters, places, and creatures in the film. Mostly the names and duties of the Skeksis and Urru (mystics). It's neat, but it would have been less cumbersome if they just made a data file type page instead of something you have to watch the movie to see. The details are sparse, and if you want to really get into this universe you're better off getting The World of the Dark Crystal. Or better yet Wikipedia.
ORIGINAL SKEKSIS LANGUAGE: Test Scenes - The original concept of The Dark Crystal was to have many of the creatures speak their own language, which we would get subtitles for, in order to further put in that different world. I think that would have been a cool way to see the movie and with this footage you get an idea of Jim Henson's original concept. Keep in mind this is not fully produced footage and it's not the same as seeing the end product. Namely the character Augra is being dubbed with Frank Oz's Miss Piggy-esque voice over and of course there is no music or post-production. Still it's interesting to get a taste of what the movie could have been like.
DELETED FUNERAL SCENES - Just a deleted scene of the Skeksis funeral. You're really not missing much taking it out if you ask me. The funeral itself is boring. The scene has some footwate with Jen talking to one of the Mystics about his quest, which was nice. No remastering on the scene of course. It's pretty grainy.
SKEKTEK'S CRYSTAL CHALLENGE - Also a Blu-Ray Exclusive. It's a trivia game played throughout the movie. A question pops up and you have to answer or get some of your essence drained. Not as annoying as the Book of Thra feature, but I still don't see why they don't just put this separate from the film.
Every time I have reviewed a Dark Crystal disk I have been impressed. It seems they just keep getting better and better. The first one had the movie with a good array of language tracks and extra features that still top all that has been offered since. The second one ups the ante with an amazing digital remastering. Now the Blu-Ray gives and absolutely jaw dropping visual and audio presentation that even dwarfs the visual clarity of the second release; especially for a movie that was made back in 1982. If you have a Blu-Ray player and like The Dark Crystal you owe it to yourself to get this.
I will admit that some people might be put off of this movie due to the lack of human actors in front of you and the fact the puppet animatronics might feel dated (although I feel less so with the Blu-Ray presentation). It's a shame people would feel that way because The Dark Crystal is fantasy storytelling at its finest. If you are a fan of the genre this movie is an absolute must. If you're a Muppet fan... well these aren't Muppets so don't expect Fraggle Rock when you see it. Any fan of grand storytelling who wants to be whisked away to a strange faraway land will find what they are looking for in The Dark Crystal. Do yourself a favor and check this movie out.
Pretty much everything on the disc is the same as what's on the non-collector's edition. The few new things to me aren't worth it. Character Illustrations and storyboards are nice and all. I was excited about "The Mithra Treatment", which I thought was the original print of the movie...where the characters speak their own language and not English (you see some of this in the deleted scenes on the disc). It is not. It is simply screens and screens of Henson's original notes. Interesting yes... but I'd rather have that in a booklet, not in screens on my TV. Then again, the fact that it was only 1 disc should have tipped me off.
The packaging is nice, the replica of Henson's notepad detailing the original ideas which would become the movie is very interesting... but in my opinion, not worth the $35 or whatever I just shelled out for this.
I'm very disappointed in the amount of "exclusives" on this DVD. The original print of the film would have been *amazing* to see, to see how Henson and Co. originally viewed the film. Maybe some new interviews with some of the other players (Oz and Froud for sure) as they look back on the movie, its box office disappointment but almost cult success. Or even a nifty booklet with a lot of these extras in it. I hate sitting in front of my TV trying to read screens of information or look at drawings which I'd rather have on paper so I can see the detail better.
So to make a long story short... if you like the movie, get the regular edition and not collector's. If you're a fanatic like me, bought the re-issued World of the Dark Crystal book and even considered shelling out a few hundred for the original pressing... and somehow MISSED buying the first DVD release of this movie, well then this is probably for you. But if you already own the DVD that came out a few years ago... I'd think very heavily on it, unless you are a fanatic. Even as a fanatic, you probably won't find any new material here (especially if you own the aforementioned book), and I'd save the $35. Or try to recoup some of your "loss" and sell your other DVD somewhere (like I'm going to try and do). I hope that if Henson and Co. decide to do a Collector's Edition of Labyrinth they put a little more work into it. I have to say, I'm disappointed with how the kids have carried on Jim's legend.
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