Dark Crystal Pin-up FRAMED # 1 Jen the Gelfling Jim Henson 1982 Movie


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The Dark Crystal is a 1982 American–British fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. The plot revolves around Jen, an elflike ‘Gelfling’ on a quest to restore balance to his alien world by returning a lost shard to a powerful but broken gem. Although marketed as a family film, it was notably darker than the creators’ previous material. The animatronics used in the film were considered groundbreaking. The primary concept artist was the fantasy illustrator Brian Froud, famous for his distinctive faerie and dwarf designs. Froud also collaborated with Henson and Oz for their next project, the 1986 film Labyrinth, which was notably more light-hearted than The Dark Crystal. The film stars the voices of Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell and Billie Whitelaw.

The Dark Crystal was produced by Gary Kurtz, whose list of credits includes American Graffiti, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return to Oz, and Slipstream. The screenplay was written by David Odell, who had previously worked with Henson as a staff writer on The Muppet Show. The film’s score was composed by Trevor Jones. The film was produced by ITC Entertainment, the British production company responsible for producing The Muppet Show.

Jen, an elf-like Gelfling taken in by the Mystics after his clan was killed, is told by his Mystic master that he must find the crystal shard, and that it can be found in the home of Aughra. If he fails to do so before the three suns meet, the Skeksis will rule forever. The Skeksis’ emperor and Jen’s master die simultaneously. A duel ensues between the Skeksis Chamberlain and General, both of whom desire the throne. The General becomes emperor and the Chamberlain is exiled. Learning of Jen’s existence, the Skeksis send large crab-like creatures called Garthim to track him.Jen is an ancient woodland creature who lives in the alien world of Thra in the 1982 fantasy film the Dark Crystal.

He is a sensitive and intelligent young boy of an unknown age who is a Gelfling by birth and was orphaned at a very young age. Jen survived the Garthim attack organized by the cruel Skeksis to extinct the Gelfling clan as they feared Gelfling would destroy them due to a crucial prophecy that threatened the Skeksis reign.

However, in all of the killing and chaos, Jen somehow survived the attack while everyone else was brutally murdered by the fierce Garthims. Jen was unharmed yet left all alone to fend for himself, until Jen stumbled upon help and was taken in by the clan of gentle Mystics who raised him as their own. Jen was taught simple chants and small magic by his master, the Wisest of the Mystics, and he grew into a passionate individual filled with content and a deep love for music.

One day, Jens mentor, the Wisest of the Mystics passes away. Before his death however, he sent Jen away on a great important mission to restore the small broken shard to The Crystal, a very powerful giant Crystal that is inside of the Crystal Palace, which has been long overthrown by the Skeksis.

There the Crystal floats, levitating effortlessly above a shaft of air and fire and is used by the Skeksis to rejuvenate themselves to live as immortals. The shard must be properly inserted back into it’s missing place all before the three suns in the sky meet and line together, which will perminatley set the lands fate. If not the prophecy is ruined and Skeksis rule and live forever. Jen sets out on a dangerous adventure to bring their fragile world to its proper order once again as Gelflings are the destined rulers of the land.

On his way he meets another Gelfling named Kira, who is also accompanied by her pet sidekick named Fizzgig. Kira is a young kind girl who can speak with animals and all the living things. And unlike male Gelflings, she bares a beautiful set of wings on her back which allows her to fly. She also is around Jens age and also survived the Garthim attack as an infant, but was taken in by the friendly little Podling clan who taught her how to speak with animals and plants.

At first, the two of them are both astonished by one another as both believed they were the last and only surviving Gelfling in existence. Kira decides to help Jen restore the shard to the Crystal and the two quickly form a friendship which laters evolves into something deeper. Jen and Kira band together to save their fragile world from it’s doomed state. Thus, ridding evil and fathom from all the land once and for all.

Jen was played by Jim Henson, Kiran Shah and Stephen Garlick.

Henson’s inspiration for the visual aspects of the film came around 1975-76, after he saw an illustration by Leonard B. Lubin in a 1975 edition of Lewis Carroll’s poetry showing crocodiles living in a palace and wearing elaborate robes and jewelry. The film’s conceptual roots lay in Henson’s short-lived The Land of Gorch, which also took place in an alien world with no human characters. According to co-director Frank Oz, Henson’s intention was to “get back to the darkness of the original Grimms’ Fairy Tales”, as he believed that it was unhealthy for children to never be afraid. Henson formulated his ideas into a 25-page story he entitled The Crystal, which he wrote whilst snowed in at an airport hotel.

The Gelflings were designed and sculpted by Wendy Midener. They were difficult to perform, as they were meant to be the most human creatures in the film, and thus their movements, particularly their gait, had to be as realistic as possible. During scenes when the Gelflings’ legs were off-camera, the performers walked on their knees in order to make the character’s movements more lifelike. According to Odell, the character Jen was Henson’s way of projecting himself into the film. Jen was originally meant to be blue, in homage to the Hindu deity Rama, but this idea was scrapped early on.

During the development phase of The Dark Crystal, director Jim Henson and writer David Odell discussed ideas for a possible sequel. Almost 25 years later, Odell and his wife Annette Duffy pieced together what Odell could recall from these discussions to draft a script for The Power of the Dark Crystal. Genndy Tartakovsky was initially hired in January 2006 to direct and produce the film through The Orphanage animation studios in California. However, faced with considerable delays, the Jim Henson Company announced a number of significant changes in a May 2010 press release: It was going to partner with Australia-based Omnilab Media to produce the sequel, screenwriter Craig Pearce had reworked Odell and Duffy’s script, and directing team Michael and Peter Spierig were replacing Tartakovsky. In addition, the film would be released in stereoscopic 3D. During a panel held at the Museum of the Moving Image on September 18, 2011 to commemorate the legacy of Jim Henson, his daughter Cheryl revealed that the project was yet again on hiatus. More recently, it was reported in February 2012 that Omnilab Media and the Spierig brothers had parted ways with the Henson Company due to budgetary concerns; production on the film has been suspended indefinitely.

On July 1, 2013, an announcement was made by The Jim Henson Company, in association with Grosset and Dunlap (a publishing division of Penguin Group USA) that they would be hosting a Dark Crystal Author Quest Contest to write a new Dark Crystal novel, as a prequel to the original film. It would be set in the Dark Crystal world during a ‘Gelfling Gathering.’ The winning author was J.M. (Joseph) Lee of Minneapolis, Minn. whose story, “The Ring of Dreams,” was selected from almost 500 contest submissions. He was awarded a publishing contract with Penguin worth $10,000 (US). In May 2014, Lisa Henson confirmed that the film was still in development, but it is not yet in pre-production.

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