I freakin’ love The Dark Crystal! Let’s watch it! Today we catch up with Jen and Kira, 42:21-44:23 on the Blu-ray.
First, there’s an establishing shot of some plants alongside the water. Look carefully and you can spot some critters mucking about in the tall grass. In the distance we can hear singing. Fade to a shot of Jen, Kira, and Fizzgig in a boat, heading down the river. Kira is singing, and piloting the boat as well. Just where did she get this boat, and what is it made of? There’s a fleeting reference in the tie-in material about Gelfling boats being made of “bone and crystal,” but I don’t think that applies here. Kira’s boat appears to be a gigantic leaf, really. Part of some ancient petrified plant, perhaps? Whatever song this is, it has no lyrics beyond, “Ahh, ahh, ahh.” (Amusingly, a fan at the DarkCrystal.com boards started a poll asking everyone to vote on whether Kira is either “a great Gelfling singer” or “the greatest Gelfling singer.”)
This raises an interesting question. For all the talk about music in this world, is there any mention of songs with lyrics? There’s a huge Gelfling concert orchestra playing in one of Legends of the Dark Crystal’s most powerful scenes, but no singing there. The mysterious narrator of Creation Myths (whose identity has still yet to be revealed, by the way) quotes an old Gelfling “rhyme” but that does not necessarily mean song lyrics. Even if songs with lyrics do exist on this world, clearly it is the pure sound of notes which gives music its importance in The Dark Crystal.
We can see the sky in the background and the wind in the characters’ hair, which reveals that this scene was filmed outdoors, bringing to mind the great opening of The Muppet Movie with Kermit on the log. Jen picks up his flute (not a euphemism) and plays along with Kira’s singing. Animals on the bank watch them from a distance. The website states that location filming for the movie took place in Yorkshire, England. Could that be this scene?
This little song of theirs goes on for a while. Why is this in the movie? For one, remember that music is an important part of this world. As noted in an earlier post, the Creation Myths graphic novel tells us that this world was created not with light or with “the word” but with a song. We’ve seen the crystal shard be effected by harmonics, and we’ve seen the Mystics chant in action. Even in these dire times, music is still an important part of these characters’ lives. Also, it’s a great bonding moment for Jen and Kira. The dream-fasting thing kind of precludes small talk, so here is a way for them to get to know each other and make a connection, in a way that is purely cinematic.
The good times can’t last, though. Fizzgig, watchful “dog” that he is, senses something coming and growls. We see a Crystal Bat in the sky, looking somewhat tattered around the wings. Kira knows exactly what this means and she tells Jen to “get down.” (Get down where? There’s on a boat. Maybe she just means for him not to show his face.) Kira pulls out a bolo-style weapon, twirls it, and flings the projectile, handily knocking the bat out of the sky. (Amusingly, the screenplay calls this weapon a “weighted thong.”) Where/how did Kira learn to use this thing? As we’ll soon learn, Garthim raiding parties are a fairly common occurrence among Kira’s people. Also, if we’re to believe Kira is of the Gelfling Vapra clan (info on all the clans can be found at DarkCrystal.com, I won’t repeat them all here), the Vapra were supposedly experts in camouflage. This stands to reason that they had something to hide from, so Kira’s people, whether that be Gelflings or Podlings, have trained themselves for protection when exploring the woods.
The bat splashed down into the water. Kira tells Jen that what the bats see, the Skeksis see, too. She further says she doesn’t think the bat saw them. They continue down the river, but we can see the bat poke its head out of the water, watching them. We get a close-up shot of it, with Jen and Kira reflected in its big crystal eye. It also has a couple of bone-like structures on the sides of his head that look a lot like antlers.
The next shot is of the Mystics, making their long journey. This is, again, a device to show the passage of time. The sky behind them is darker now, giving us the feeling that it’s later in the day, and their creeping progression from one side of the screen to the other gives us a sense of moving forward. How much time passes for them appears to be longer than the amount of time passing for Jen and Kira, however, which has me wondering if the Mystics’ rarely-mentioned magic is at work here. Either way, when we rejoin Jen and Kira in the next scene, there’s no question time has passed.
Next: Party down with the Podlings!
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