The Dark Crystal takes place in a dark and dying other world, where the Gelflings, human-like creatures, have been all but wiped out by the evil Skeksis.
Jen (voiced by Stephen Garlick) is a young Gelfling raised by the Mystics after all his people were killed by the Garthim, the dark, crab-like army belonging to the Skeksis. Jen has been given the task of restoring order to the world. The leader of the Mystics tells Jen that he must find the oracle Aughra (voice of Billie Whitelaw) and a missing shard of crystal.
With little idea of where to go or what to do, Jen sets off to find Aughra, who helps him find the crystal shard. Jen finds the shard but is attacked by the Garthim, who have orders to kill him. Jen escapes into a terrible swamp-like forest where he meets Kira (voice of Lisa Maxwell), another orphaned Gelfling.
Together Jen and Kira set off to fulfil a prophecy, help restore the shard to the crystal and bring peace to a world split apart.
Death; genocide; separation from a parent; mythical quests; slavery; good versus evil
The Dark Crystal has some violence. For example:
- The Skeksis turn on one of their own, ripping his clothing and robes from his skeletal body before banishing him.
- Two Skeksis fight with swords.
- An army of creepy Garthim are ordered to kill Jen. They crash through the windows and destroy Aughra’s house, smashing her belongings and setting fire to everything before her home burns and explodes.
- A mouth in the ground suddenly opens up and eats a passing animal.
- A mother sacrifices herself while trying to save her child.
- The story of the Gelfling genocide is briefly shown in memory scenes from Jen and Kira’s childhoods.
- The Skeksis eat crawlies for dessert. Crawlies are little animals that scurry across the table and must be captured before they’re eaten. The crawlies try desperately to escape but are cornered and crammed into the Skeksis’ beak-like mouths. The crawlies’ legs struggle and flail while they’re being eaten.
- The Garthim army attacks the Podling community that raised Kira. Jen fights back with the crystal and, although he’s injured, he and Kira escape.
- Podlings are taken prisoner, locked in cages and kept as slaves for the Skeksis.
- Jen and Kira defend themselves against the evil Garthim, while riding a couple of long-legged land striders. The Garthim overpower and kill the land striders while Jen and Kira fall backwards off a cliff into a pit of skeletons.
- Kira is kidnapped by one of the Skeksis after a wall collapses and falls on Jen, trapping him beneath the rubble. Meanwhile, Kira is told that her essence will be drained and she’ll be killed.
- Animals attack the Skeksis who is trying to harm Kira. He’s overpowered and falls into a fiery pit.
- The Skeksis all chant that the Gelflings must die. Kira’s dog is thrown into a pit and is assumed dead. Kira is stabbed in the back by a Skeksis and she collapses on the ground.
- Jen is blasted off the crystal, Garthim bodies begin to fall apart and crumble into pieces. and Jen holds Kira’s lifeless body in his arms. The walls of the Skeksis castle collapse around them.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some mild nudity in The Dark Crystal when Jen is first seen sitting without clothes near a river playing a flute. Nothing explicit is shown.
The Dark Crystal has some name-calling including, ‘fools’, ‘putrid lizards’, ‘stupid’, ‘spithead’ and ‘crab-brained soldiers’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Dark Crystal is a puppet-style animated fantasy from the Henson studio. Highly acclaimed at the time of its original US release in 1982, it was originally marketed as a family movie. But because of its dark themes and plot, The Dark Crystal is best suited to families with older children.
These are the main messages from The Dark Crystal:
- Follow your destiny.
- Believe in yourself.
- Remember that there are always two sides to every story.
- Good will prevail.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include determination, courage, sacrifice, patience and trust.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with older children about real-life issues like:
- murder and genocide
- the difference between truth and lies
- the darker side of human nature and how it can be overcome.