The World of the Dark Crystal
A selection of imagery scanned from “The World of the Dark Crystal” a 2003 compendium of conceptual art, design and illustration produced for Jim Henson’s 1982 fantasy movie masterpiece “The Dark Crystal”.
For those of you not familiar with the story of the Dark Crystal – it’s a powerful and dramatic tale of a lost world and Jen, a young ‘Gefling’ who set out on a perilous quest against sinister dark forces. 28 years after it’s original release the award-winning Dark Crystal is firmly embedded as a true cult classic and even to this day, a is a tour de force in special effects featuring breathtaking animatronics and puppetry… The whole film just oozes quality – there’s never been anything quite like it since – a remarkable odyssey suitable for adults and children alike, although I have to be honest, parts of it still freak me out!
I’d really like to write more here but I’m once again I’m a little time restricted, I think I’ll post here and then revisit again soon – anyway I’m guessing that most of you a familiar with the film. If not – wow! – you’re in for a treat! I recommend the 25th Anniversary Edition DVD with excellent special features http://is.gd/cTgLX or the BluRay version http://is.gd/cTgXX
The award-winning design as shown here is the work of Devon-based English Fantasy Artist Brian Froud, who in addition to producing of 20 illustrative book has also lent his considerable fantasy artist talent to several other famous film projects including as Labyrinth (1985) and Peter Pan (2003).
Ok so some notes on the Images I’ve featured from top to bottom (some spoilers here!):
Top: A conceptual sketch of an ‘Ur-Ru’. The Ur-Ru are the Ying to the Skeksis Yang, Ur-Ru represents light and good, the Skeksis dark and evil. Each Ur-Ru is inextricably linked to its Skeksis counterpart, both share a divided soul and are part of the higher being known as the ‘urSkeks’. This omnipotent super-race was violently split apart in an attempt to harvest the full power of the planets three suns known as “The Grand Conjunction”
2nd Top: A conceptual sketch of a ‘Skeksis’. For me creature and costume design doesn’t get much better than Skeksis – it’s not that the regal/Afghan hound looking Ur-Ru aren’t beautifully designed too (they are!) – there’s something memorably horrific about the Skekis, their shrill voices and bloated, twisted bodies wrapped inside fantastically elaborate but rotting clothing!
3rd Top: A perfect example of the fallen decadence – “skekEkt the Ornamentalist who made clothes above all for himself, rich fabrics that dripped jewels, the death of 100 birds for 1 cloak. He first discovered the art of anointing the skin with a paste of clotted blood and diamond powder, to restore the sparkle of youth.”
4th Top: Another superior sketch, check the ruff, ruched sleeves and carefully balanced Tri-Spectacle action! “skekOk the Scroll-Keeper kept the record of the Skeksis; he was the smallest finest-featured, least honest of them all. He wrote and rewrote his accounts, and kept changing them one or another of his shifting allies, The truth was soon lost.”
5th Top: A close-up detail sketch of Skeksis head. A fair visual description would be to say the Skeksis are a kind of avian reptile, perhaps like an Archaeopteryx but also taking the most heavy visual cue from the Vulture .
6th Top: The contorted chaos of “The Castle of the Skeksis”.
7th Top: A design for the floor plan of the Crystal Chamber, the symbols of the original 18 urSkeks can be seen around the edge whilst the crystal hangs above the inner ring…
8th top & Bottom: Concept drawings for Jen the Gelfling, his costume and accessories – love the man bag!
And finally, for nostalgia purposes here’s a youtube video of the original 1982 trailer…