The version of The Dark Crystal that was released in 1982 was dark and weird, especially for a kids’ movie. But there was an earlier version—darker, weirder, and trippier—that didn’t make it to theaters. The earlier cut didn’t test well with audiences, so the film was substantially changed to appeal to a broad audience. Voiceover was added, and English dialogue was added to many scenes where the action was previously supposed to be understood through puppets’ pantomime.
For the past two years an enterprising fan, 31-year-old Christopher Orgeron, has labored to reassemble that original cut of the movie. He had limited materials to work with, so there are rough edges in many places (most notably the black-and-white scenes from a VHS dub of the original cut). But looking at this version of The Dark Crystal gives us a dose of the Henson weirdness that we see in many of his early films. Whether this is better or worse than the theatrical version is debatable—but at the very least, it’s a fascinating glimpse into what might have been.
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