Gelflings and Skeksis and Landstriders, Oh Dear

About 15 years ago, the duck had a babysitter.  It was a different one than usual, and she brought over a movie to watch.  The movie was “The Dark Crystal”, which disturbed me quite a bit at the time.  Despite my terror, I was disappointed when my parents returned, and the movie was turned off halfway through.  Should’ve started it earlier, I suppose.

            An equal amount of years later, the duck was still thinking about the movie I never got to finish.  I was very curious to see what my duckling self had seen so many years ago, but I kept putting it off.  I didn’t feel like renting it.  Too much effort.  But, then I saw the movie on Netflix.  Beckoning.  “Watch me again, duck.”  “See what you missed, waterfowl.”  I resisted for a while, having better things to do, then, finally I thought WTH.

            And so I got me a nice bottle of water (due to my diet at the time, I couldn’t invite juice or popcorn over to be my movie companions that evening), and I watched the movie I had left unfinished for so many years.  I saw many things I had entirely forgotten, and I saw a few things I still remembered.  I could never forget the innocent Gelflings or the wicked Skeksis.  I also still couldn’t forget the scene where the Skeksis Emperor died (or more like crumbled, like a dry, but delicious Famous Amos cookie), a scene that has haunted me since ducklinghood.

            But, mostly, it was new, with just a touch of a familiar feeling.  Overall, I had fun watching the movie.  The story was interesting.  The design of the various creatures was wonderful.  It was extremely creative and quite magical.  As I was watching it, though, I wasn’t entirely sure of it, but once I neared the end, I was so disappointed it was over.

            For those of you who haven’t seen it (though, you probably have; it’s considered a cult classic for a reason, I’m sure, and it’s 30 years old, too), I’ll try to summarize.  I understood most of it.  The movie is about a Gelfling named Jen who sets out on a quest to restore the Dark Crystal.  Long, long ago, a crystal was damaged, which became the Dark Crystal (correct me if I’m wrong).  At this time, two races came into existence.  The peaceful Mystics and the evil Skeksis, hideous vulture-like things.  The Skeksis have the Dark Crystal in their castle and are the ones responsible for killing off almost all of the Gelflings and enslaving many others.  In short, they’re quite naughty, to say the least.

            (Spoilers ahead.  Though not really, since you all probably saw it anyway.)  So at the request of his late master, Jen goes looking for a crystal shard (kind of like “Kirby 64”, but not…), not yet knowing what he’s supposed to do with it.  He gets the shard from this old woman named Aughra, who says the Great Conjunction is coming when the three suns align, and something big will happen.  After this, Jen meets a female Gelfling named Kira (much to his surprise; he thought he was the last Gelfling left), who can talk to animals (and has a pet dog-like thing named Fizgigg, though I kept thinking she was saying Bisquick), and the two face many dangers.  Primarily, an army of crab beetle things called Garthim, sent after them by the Skeksis, who believe a Gelfling will be the one to put an end to them.  They also face a banished Skeksis, formerly called the Chamberlain, who claims to be a friend and wants them to go with him to the castle to make peace.  (Fortunately, our heroes are not huge idiots and so refuse.  Stranger danger, remember!)

            Anyway, due to some writing in old Gelfling ruins, something about the “triple sun” and “the two made one”, Jen and Kira realize they need to bring the shard to the castle and restore the crystal.  And so they do, but not without more trouble from the Garthim and the Chamberlain (who is a major stalker, if you ask me).  Towards the end, the three suns are coming together, and if Jen doesn’t restore the crystal before they align, apparently the Skeksis will live forever, but fortunately, he succeeds.  By now, we realize that each Mystic and Skeksis is half of one being, and the two become one again.  The end.

            So it was a fun movie.  I’m glad I got to see it.  I love how creative it was, and I like the concept of the Mystics and Skeksis being only a half of a person.  Like the good side and the bad side.  And I love that there is actually so much more to the movie than just what’s…in the movie.  Does that make sense?  I mean, the story and such is a lot more complex than just what we see.  Apparently when the movie came out in 1982, a book was also released that has a whole lot more information on the characters and world that we saw in the movie.  They put a lot of work into thinking everything out, and it makes the movie more interesting that way.  Unfortunately, said book is rare and expensive, so for now, I just get my extra facts from Wikipedia.  Since Wikipedia more or less holds all the knowledge of the universe.

            Anyway, after watching the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I decided to buy it several days later.  (Could not find it at first.  And then, there it was.  At the grocery store.  It was fate that brought us together!  Or more like the fact that I had remembered seeing it there a few weeks earlier.  Still fate.  But, why on Thra did the other stores not have it?  Skeksis must in some way be responsible.)  The DVD (that’s right, I still haven’t given in to Blu Ray and perhaps shan’t ever) had some extra features, most of which were meh.  But, I really enjoyed the video on the making of the movie.  All the characters are puppets, and it was fun to see how they did everything.  It’s amazing how they can do the fingers, the facial expressions.  And watching someone practice running around in an unfinished Skeksis costume was pretty funny.

            So in short, it was a fun movie.  Truly one of the most creative things I’ve seen in a while.  The character design.  Wow.  It fills me with shame when I see my own original characters.  You sicken me, my own creations.  You sicken me.

My Skeksis Title Would Simply Be: The Duck (and I’d be the scariest of them all)

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8 thoughts on “Gelflings and Skeksis and Landstriders, Oh Dear

  1. I have such a strong attachment to this movie, it borders on silly. As I’m typing this, I can see the characters and hear the music…It makes me very happy. I never saw the Dark Crystal in the theatre, but it was one of the first VHS tapes I remember owning. And that documentary about the making of the movie? I remember seeing that on TV – it was the mid 80s and Labyrinth had come out and Jim Henson and his creations were everywhere. It was a wonderful time to be alive. I drew large renditions of Jen, Kira, and Fizgigg (that little ball of fur was my favorite, and I can totally see him being called “Bisquick!”) and hung them right over my bed. I don’t know what ever happened to them.

    That scene with the emperor dying is still creepy; though, the scene I always found most unsettling was that of Chamberlain being stripped of his robes. Something about that, with his curdled wails and the others just going at him, was, is, really disturbing. It might have been the view of a naked Skeksis — not a pleasant site for anyone. Looking back, it was a pretty “adult” movie – that business about “essence,” the Garthim attacking the podlings and the landstriders, Jen saving the universe, the two crystals made one, etc. — some heady stuff for us young’ins. Still, it had some awesome funny moments, like the Skeksis dinner scene.

    Your synopsis is wonderful and brings forth happy memories!

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    1. I thought the scene where the Chamberlain’s clothes were torn off was disturbing, too, especially since I had no idea what they were doing at first. I remember when I first saw this as a duckling, I was thinking it was odd the babysitter had me watch such a movie. It is indeed a bit “adult” for kids. I kept pointing it out to my mom when I saw it in stores. “Look, that’s the scary movie my babysitter had me watch.” Little did I know I’d check it out again and see how awesome it was. When I rewatched it recently, I tried drawing pictures of the characters, as well, but I did a bad job and gave up.

      Thank you for your compliment on my synopsis. I managed to not ramble as much this time.

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  2. I loved “see what you missed water fowl.” LOVED IT! I’ve never actually seen the movie, Duck, but may do just that after reading your post. Thanks!

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