The Dark Crystal (1982)
Directed by Jim Henson, Frank Oz
Written by Jim Henson, David Odell
Produced by Jim Henson, Gary Kurtz, Duncan Kenworthy, Bruce Sharman, David Lazer
Starring Jim Henson, Kathryn Mullen, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Brian Muehl / Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell, Billie Whitelaw, Percy Edwards, Barry Dennen, Michael Kilgarriff
A solar syzygy of an otherworld's antiquity wreaked by magnification through the titular crystal's magic environmental entropy, while bifurcating the race of mages who imprudently fractured it. Over a millennium's span, these two factions dwindled to a corporeally yoked pair of elderly decades: one consortium of mansuete, lumbering alchemists and a surfeited, vulturine aristocracy of limitless and unabashed cruelty, who exploit the crystal's perverted power to counteract their encroaching decrepitude. A doyen of the former partnership details to a bipedal, murescent adolescent in his care a mission to retrieve and restore to the crystal its lost shard, so that the furbished artifact may during another imminent conjunction restore balance in prophetic accordance and avert a global cataclysm. Henson's marriage of performance and puppetry furnished with sumptuous production values is the most original and ambitious of his studio's offerings, boasting premium practical and animated effects, and sets exuberant with organic and invented vegetation out of doors, and regal and mystic extravagance within. The sheer scale of this production's almost as impressive as its every department's craftsmanship evidenced in spectacles: an astronomer-witch's gargantuan orrery, ruins almost so baroque as the sinful sorcerers' castle, and a vast menagerie of fabricated creatures populating this bleak fantasy. Neither is it without defect, for exposition during the first two acts is as redundant as vague, and many of the plot's perils and villains may prove too nightmarish for especially timid children. Posterior to his collaborations with George Lucas, Kurtz's artistry in the capacities of production and second unit direction is almost as salient as that of puppeteers-directors Henson and Oz, the latter of whom's since enjoyed a fruitful career helming comedies starring Muppets and humans alike. For both its fantastic grandeur and the obsolescence of puppetry, nothing quite like this has since been produced; Henson's vision may be as sui generis as the coaction of talent by which it was incarnated.