The Dark Crystal - The Director’s Cut
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 Dark Crystal 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 landscape in front of 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, with a little extra at the end.
Deleted funeral scenes from the DVD are restored to their proper place.
There is also some beautiful alternate music composed by Vangelis here and there
Credit goes to Demonoid user Aikousha for finding the workprint and making it available. All reassembly was done by me scoodidabop (aka Christopher Orgeron/Creedo). 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.