Have you heard about the so- called DARK CRYSTAL “Director’s Cut”? A bunch of folks have already written about this wonderful thing and now I’m going to as well on account of it’s just too specifically kindertraumatic for me to resist. Once upon a time, it seems there was an earlier version of THE DARK CRYSTAL. It was shown to a preview audience to get their reaction and their reaction was mostly stuff like, “What was that?”, “Huh?”, “Come again? “ and, “I want my mommy!” The movie had to be altered in order to more likely receive wider acceptance and so rambling scenes were chiseled down and explanatory dialogue and clarifying voiceovers were added. Finally the movie was deemed ready for popular consumption and this new easier to digest version was released to the masses who reacted mostly with stuff like “What was that?”, “Huh?”, “Come again?” and “I still want my mommy!”
Yay, THE DARK CRSTAL (shaking Kermit arms above head)! It’s beautiful, obtuse, crazy-making, corny, gorgeous, mystical and as disturbing as a bad dream. It’s a truly singular visionary work that gets better with each passing day. It’s awesome and freaky and sometimes boring in any form but yeah, a few nips and tucks do make a big difference. Hey, movies, or any art for that matter, are incantations and of course you can’t alter a speck of the spell and expect the exact same results.
The big news is that some guy by the name of Christopher Orgeron had access to a ratty old copy of the original version and like a saint, decided to painstakingly craft it back together as best he could. Nicer still, he wants to share his accomplishment with us! What he did from the best of my ability to understand is, keep the original soundtrack in place, leave in everything that was later removed and spackle on top the better picture of the standard version wherever possible. So sometimes the picture and the sound can get wonky but it’s the closest you’re likely to get to JIM HENSON’s original, preview audience disapproved stab. It’s pretty cool.
The biggest difference is that those horrifying plucked rooster demons, the Skeksis, now speak their own language and we are not privy to their words. It works great because you can kind of guess what they’re going on about but the language barrier makes them all that much more alien and off-putting.
The other thing is, and this is just me, I’m totally fascinated by the (minimal) scenes that are of the shoddy quality that Orgeron would probably prefer to do without completely. Content wise they are inconsequential but wow, they come off like bizarre radio signals from another planet (or BEGOTTEN or some super early episode of DOCTOR WHO). They are so hauntingly strange, I half wanted to watch the whole movie in this vague, craptastic static-o-rama style. Which makes no sense because DARK CRYSTAL is so pretty and nice with the purple but whatever. Is this version any more kindertraumatic? Hmm. Yeah I think so, but it should be mentioned that the most disturbing parts of DARK CRYSTAL are front and center in both versions. Still, the estranging effect of holding the audiences’ hands to a lesser degree does make a difference. Fans of the film should check it out below or download it HERE. Thanks Christopher Orgeron! What a noble endeavor!