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“I think having started with the simplicity of the Muppets and the utter simple charm, even in terms of color and harmonies, the language. Everything was simple and beautiful. The size of it was right. It was Jim. But I think in him, and obviously it’s so in the films he produced, that there was a darker, cavernous place he was busting to get to.” -Maurice Sendak
The Director's Cut
(Jim Henson and Frank Oz's original version)
CINEFANTASTIQUE Volume 13 Number 4
"THE DARK CRYSTAL was previewed before a demographically selected test audience in Washington, D.C. Henson and representatives of Universal Pictures, the film's distributor, were stunned by the high number of walkouts and the overwhelming negative audience response."
"The version of THE DARK CRYSTAL previewed in Washington was not complete, lacking titles and some optical effects, but the preview audience shrunk from the film not because of its unfinished form, but because of its plodding pace and confusing storyline. A large part of the confusion resulted from Henson's decision to have the Skeksis speak a foreign language, specially devised by linguist Alan Garner based on ancient Greek and Egyptian."
"An early concept was to have the Skeksis just making noises, but in a way that you knew what they were saying."
"The Washington audience thought that they were missing something," said co-producer Gary Kurtz. "Actually, they didn't need to understand the Skeksis' dialogue at those points. The translation of what was being said is really quite banal. The strength of those scenes was instinctively knowing what's going on."
"The two Skeksis scenes in question in THE DARK CRYSTAL were quite long. You had to concentrate. The audience wasn't prepared to do that."
"Though Henson liked Alan Garner's Skeksis language, he decided to reloop the dialogue in English, adding choice one-liners in the process. Though the action on screen remained the same--no re-shooting was done--the English dialogue skewed the proceedings away from the purely bizarre and grotesque toward the more familiar comedic territory of the Muppets. Henson also added lightness and humor to the character of Aughra, bringing in actress Billie Whitlaw to re-record the dialogue with a new emphasis."
"With editor Ralph Kemplen, Henson trimmed the film from 101 minutes to 94 minutes, picking up the tempo. By intercutting scenes of the Skeksis and the urRu which had run uninterrupted before, Henson enlivened the sluggish pace of the film's opening, while shortening the action."
"Henson also added voice-over narration to make THE DARK CRYSTAL, crystal clear, in effect telegraphing the film's climactic revelation that the Skeksis and urRu are two halves of the same being. By removing this element of surprise from the film's climax Henson took away the only saving grace of an already ill-conceived and weak ending."
"Missing in the new version is much of the darkness and the drama that was there before to counterbalance the charm and the cuteness."
"As Henson cut and rearranged THE DARK CRYSTAL, composer Trevor Jones had to cut and rearrange his music to fit, agonizing over every note."
Deleted Funeral Scenes
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This is an unofficial DARK CRYSTAL website. THE DARK CRYSTAL, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of The Jim Henson Company. © 2001. Visit the official website at www.henson.com.