The Dark Crystal back in theaters

Fathom Events is bringing The Dark Crystal back to selected theaters on a limited basis.  More information here.  Remaining show dates are February 28th, March 3rd, and March 6th.  Showtimes are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time (sadly, the 2 p.m. showings do not come with a matinee discount).

A lot of these Fathom Events never make it anywhere near South Dakota at all, so I was extremely fortunate that the movie theater nearest my house happens to be one of the selected theaters where The Dark Crystal is being shown, so I went to the 2 p.m. showing this afternoon.

The brand-new introduction with Lisa Henson wasn’t anything too special.  I honestly don’t remember anything specific that she said, so I don’t think it was anything too groundbreaking.  But it was worth it to see the movie on the big screen, to fully appreciate the craftsmanship that went into it, and to experience it with other people.

Did you know the landstriders have faces?  I never knew that until today.  Did you know the Skeksis have iridescent skin?  And also, the change in the new emperor’s appearance when he drinks the esssence du podling is much more striking on the big screen.  And the big Skeksis banquet is even more disgusting.

But there’s so much that is also much more beautiful on the big screen.  You can pick out details that get lost on a small screen.  For example, the ancient Gelfling pictograph of the prophecy is so much clearer and more detailed on the big screen.

When I watched The Dark Crystal before, I was at home in my old apartment, alone except for my cat, so it was interesting to get to see it with an audience.  I don’t know how familiar the audience members already were with The Dark Crystal, but they seemed to really get a kick out of Fizzgig every time he appeared on screen, and a little kid seated near me seemed to think that Aughra’s removable eye was scary.

It was interesting to see the movie again having since read Steve’s memories of making it; it’s particularly interesting with regard to the language.  I think it was a good call not to leave the Skeksis’ dialogue in all Skexish with no explanation whatsoever.  It was, in my opinion, overly ambitious of Jim Henson to expect viewers to be able to decipher the story based on visuals and subtext.  It was a flattering but unrealistic expectation.  However, I don’t think it was necessary to dub all the Skeksis’ dialogue into English; I think they could have preserved the Skexish language while cluing audiences into the plot by providing subtitles for the Skeksis’ dialogue.  It would have been just as effective and probably a lot cheaper.  On the other hand, given the bizarre prejudice that a lot of English-speaking Americans have against watching movies with subtitles, maybe they thought that that would alienate audiences too.  Moreover, Steve’s Peter-Lorre-inspired Skeksis voice would have been less enjoyable to me if I hadn’t been able to understand what he was saying, so maybe it was for the best, notwithstanding the multiple takes of falling down the pit that he had to do…(lol)

And yet, while I agree with giving the Skeksis English dialogue (whether that would have been in the form of subtitles or dubbing) I think they went a little bit overboard with Jen’s internal monologue.  I guess I can’t speak for all audiences everywhere, but I think that his actions conveyed the subtext more effectively than the Skexish dialogue.  For example, when he goes looking for Aughra, we were there and heard the Mystic Master telling him to go find Aughra, so I don’t really think we needed a voiceover soliloquy in which Jen says to himself, essentially, “Well, here I am, looking for Aughra, just like the Master told me to do about five minutes of screentime ago.”  But then again, maybe the focus groups were confused by that part too.  I wasn’t there, so I don’t know, but I consider it to be overcompensation.

Random though:  Do you think that Aughra and Yoda would be friends?  I like to think of them getting together for tea and talking shop.



One thought on “The Dark Crystal back in theaters

  1. I have never seen ‘Dark Crystal’, and was hoping it would stream on one of the services we subscribe to. I have friends who were a part of this production, and I’d dearly love to see it. Even to go to the theater these days is not often as we do not get the films I’d normally want to see here.


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