Monday, September 04, 2017

The Dark Crystal: Film Platypus

This film, like so many of Jim Hanson's works, is a miniature gem finely cut. All the characters and the world they inhabit are perfectly designed for the medium in which they exist. If they were taken out of the medium, or even redone in the same medium with modern technology, it would dramatically alter the whole -it would become something else. I think that's why the comics have turned to the mythology and history of The Dark Crystal. They are at enough of a remove that the change in medium doesn't violate the original work. All that to say that there is something insistently Toronto School about telling an entire film story with puppets; a furious insistence that the medium is the message.

The story of The Dark Crystal reaches the level of myth. Its theme is the recovery of lost unity by the meeting of opposites: Uru and Skeksis, make and female, light and dark. The symbol of union is well chosen: a shattered crystal that turns light into darkness. It is an image of perversion, of un-making. As Gandalf could have told the Urskeks "he who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom". Like the revelation of Hermione in A Winter's Tale, the healing of the crystal with its transfiguration of the castle and the Urskeks, and the resurrection of Kira, provide a sense of wonder and a the promise of ultimate renewal.

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