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The Dark Crystal: Director's Cut

TomH1138

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A friend just alerted me to this completed project by a YouTube user, which is made up largely of commercially unavailable material:

__________________________

Early versions of The Dark Crystal were a bit different than the version we see today. Jim Henson and Frank Oz originally sought to create a much darker story that relied more on the audience and less on voice-overs and inner monologues explaining the plot. In this version there's no narrator, Jen's inner monologues are gone, and the Skeksis hardly ever say anything in English (Aughra speaks some Skesis too!). This version is much more modern and a little darker with this original audio and the slightly different score. Some of the scenes are moved around too, which adds to the surreal feel of the original film. Some test audiences were more casual moviegoers and responded negatively to this version so the Henson team redubbed the ENTIRE film to help explain the plot to the audience up front and make things more obvious.


Sadly this beautiful version was mostly lost with a few rough-looking (yet still redubbed at times) scenes making it to the DVD and Blu-Ray versions. Demonoid user Aikousha saw this early test version when he was a kid and took it upon himself to track down this little bit of film history. What he found was a very nasty black & white "workprint" copy (used by the production team) on a VHS tape that was very grainy and was almost unlistenable due to tape compression and SEVERE hiss and noise. But the important thing was that it was a mostly intact version of the beautiful vision of Jim Henson, Brian Froud, and Frank Oz. The Dark Crystal, as originally intended!


Workprints are used by the production crew and this one has all the trappings of one. Grease marks on the film, rough cuts, tape slowdown, and unfinished special effects among other things. Now, this workprint is still out floating around on the internet but it's really painful to watch and the sound is atrocious so I took it upon myself to clean up the audio, sync it to a clean treatment of the video, include some scenes that were unavailable anywhere else, and recut a watchable version that played out like the workprint.


Disclaimer: It's still a little rough. My computer had lots of slowdown since I was syncing to a HQ vid and some of the missteps in editing weren't noticeable until the 5 hour render was complete! They're minor and not frequent so it might only take you out of the moment briefly.


Black and white scenes were included from the workprint occasionally since they're not available elsewhere. They include: A matte painting of the Skeksis castle that pans down to the 'lost' Jen swimming scene, an extended clip of 'Trial By Stone', an extended scene in Aughra's home, and a little extra at the end.


Deleted funeral scenes from the DVD are restored to their proper place.


Credit goes to Demonoid user Aikousha for finding the workprint and making it available. If anyone wishes to attempt restoring the black and white scenes I'll gladly include them in a new edit of the film. For the record I attempted to contact the Henson company earlier this year when I had about half of the edit complete to ask about sharing this on youtube but they never responded to my inquiry. Also, I just found out today (Dec 2nd) that someone else attempted this same idea and called it "The Darker Crystal" and released it in September. This is NOT his version. I haven't seen his version but I'm sure mine is similar to his.


I began working on this over 2 years ago and finally finished it last week. Lots of work but it was worth it. Rant over.




Enjoy!

scoodidabop

 

Q2

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Wow! I loved The Dark Crystal as a kid. I'll add this to the things I need to watch. (I promise to all the editors out there whose material I've downloaded, I will get to it.)
 

TomH1138

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Glad you guys like this!

A friend of mine in another forum just made a good point. He questioned the use of the term "director's cut" as neither director had anything to do with this edit.

But I used the title that the fan editor himself (or herself) used. This is the editor's attempt to re-create the original version to the best of their ability. It's not a change to make the movie more like the editor's own vision. Hence, putting this under Preservations and calling it a "Director's Cut" are, I think, fair terms.

Enjoy, everyone! :)
 

Dwight Fry

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The Dark Crystal was the very first movie I ever saw in a theater. I'll be checking this out!
 

TM2YC

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Lovely stuff. Will be giving this a watch.:)
 

TMBTM

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Nice!
(they could have kept the same picture ratio all along though... :p )
 

nOmArch

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Is this actually available in non-youtube form?
 

TomH1138

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Sorry, nomarch, it isn't. The user just posted this on YouTube two days ago for the very first time. I suggest you contact the poster directly through their YouTube account with any questions about availability.
 

nOmArch

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I already have the 720p from YT that's why I was asking about a proper DVD/AVI/MKV release without all the awful YT compression.

@Tom thanks dude I'll hit him up and see what happens.
 

TomH1138

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Yay! This actually made a news item on the front page! :)
 

Q2

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Your_Gary_Fodmother said:
Did you use any footage from the 160 minute laserdisc?

The person who put the cut together isn't a member here as far as I know. Your best bet into post a comment on the YouTube video and see if he responds there.
 

tranzor

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what is really funny is that this past week I was thinking how neat it would be (which is it clearly not allowed) to throw up the black and white workprint on CG. I come here and then see someone tried to reconstruct it

Since many members here are not that old and the post might have gotten permanently deleted with the many revisions this website has had, I just wanted it to be known that one point in time (and probably in 2007) the full dvdr made from that B/W workprint was offered on here and had a post about it and possibly from the source who supplied it to demonoid. I remember the whole forum chat and that the original poster had then upped it elsewhere so I got in touch with him.

** I had asked for a youtube link but....my browser was a bit slow in loading the youtube link in the first post. I can see it now
 

peertwo

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I'm not familiar with the original film, but on watching this I noticed that there quite a bit that's not in English - possibly the constructed language of the Skeksis. This was especially so in an early fight scene.
Are we supposed to know what the characters are saying ? Is/was there meant to be subtitles ? Was it redubbed in English for the theatrical release ?
 

TomH1138

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There were several rough cuts of the film made; the earliest had no subtitles because it seemed clear to the filmmakers what the Skeskis were doing. However, many audience members had your reaction, so the characters were dubbed in English. (I think there was also a version with subtitles, but I can't find evidence of that.)

From the Muppet Wiki:

"The test screenings of The Dark Crystal had the Skeksis speaking a language based on ancient Greek and Egyptian, specially created for them by linguist Alan Garner. Jim Henson stated, "My whole approach to this film is visual. I wanted as little dialogue as possible because I believe the story is stronger that way. Dialogue becomes a crutch. If you have all these alien-looking creatures, why should they be talking in English? An early concept was to have the Skeksis just making noises, but in a way you knew what they were saying." Gary Kurtz responded to the non-English version stating, "The audience thought that they were missing something. Actually, they didn't need to understand the Skeksis' dialogue at those points. The translation of what was being said is really quite banal. The strength of those scenes was instinctively knowing what's going on...But the Skeksis scenes were quite long. You had to concentrate. The audience wasn't prepared to do that." The response of the test audiences led to the replacement of the Skeksis language with English dialogue."

http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/The_Dark_Crystal#Production_Notes
 

skyled

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This has been yanked from Youtube but is still available at the Internet Archive
 

ThrowgnCpr

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link removed since it contains a direct download for the video. Thanks for the info though, skyled.
 
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