The Dark Crystal premiered on December 17, 1982. I don’t remember the exact date that I saw it for the first time but if I had known how much that film was going to change my life, I definitely would have made note of it.
What I do remember is my dad asking me to take my younger sister and her friend when it came to the small theatre downtown. I begrudgingly agreed, thinking this was a movie for little kids and I was going to be bored out of my mind. I couldn’t have been more wrong and I don’t mind admitting it.
I sat, transfixed by what was in front of me. It was as though someone had glimpsed what was going on inside my mind, understood it, and brought it to life on screen. The story was different, of course and the characters new to me. But the imagining of a world inhabited by strange and interesting creatures, each with their own story and an intertwined mythology was something I’d imagined but never seen before. For the first time (but thankfully, not the last) I remained seated after the credits had rolled and the lights came up, not wanting it to end.
It would be 17 years before The Dark Crystal would be released on DVD, along with the deleted scenes and extras that would leave me once again forgetting to breathe. I watched in awe as I witnessed the masters, people at the top of their game. Brian Froud, Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and their amazing crew of puppeteers, costume designers, and set designers all working to bring this amazing story from initial concept and storyboard to what we experience on the screen. To learn the meaning behind the most minute details and the thought processes that went into the scenes was to this writer a creative process not unlike the first sip of water to someone dying of thirst in the desert. It made me remember why I started on this journey. The initial spark that ignited the moment I stepped into the theatre that afternoon so many years ago.