I freakin’ love The Dark Crystal! Let’s watch it! Today, we’re at 53:40-55:00 on the Blu-ray. In one corner, Gelflings. In the other corner: Skeksis!
When we last left Jen and Kira, they had discovered the Wall of Destiny, and read that the crystal shard is needed to heal the Dark Crystal, and that a prophecy states this can only be done by Gelfling hand. They don’t get a chance to revel in this new knowledge, however, because the Skeksis’ Chamberlain has snuck up on them. He interrupts by saying, “Prophecy?” Kira immediately recognizes him as a Skeksis, and she reacts in fear, leading Jen away. This raises some questions, namely how does she know the Chamberlain is a Skeksis? Has she encountered Skeksis before, or does she only know about them from stories and whatnot? Or is she merely assuming this is a Skeksis? We don’t know.
The Chamberlain doesn’t attack, but instead tries to open a dialogue of sorts, saying, “Stay. Stay. Am friend.” He then says, “Prophecy cause all this trouble.” He admits that Skeksis killed all the Gelflings, but he calls this a “bad mistake,” and adds, “Skeksis fear Gelfling.” He further argues “Am friend,” reminding them that he saved them from the Garthim.
Kira encourages Jen not to listen, and says, “It’s a trick.” That raises some interesting points. We’ve seen how naïve Jen is to the world around him, but here Kira is cynical enough to know not to trust the Skeksis. At some point, somewhere, Gelflings must have learned not to trust whatever Skeksis tell them. It’s also worth noting that Fizzgig doesn’t like the Chamberlain at all, and constantly barks and growls at him throughout this whole scene.
The Chamberlain admits he is an outcast, and that if the Gelflings come with him to the castle he will be “outcast no more.” He repeats “Please,” several times in a whining, almost begging manner. “Show them you want peace,” he says to Jen. “Show them Gelflings will not harm us.” The music gets all weird here, and it seems Jen is starting to buy this. Kira steps between him and the Skeksis and he snaps out of whatever haze he’s in. The Skeksis continues “Please, please,” but Jen snaps “No!” at him, and he and Kira run off. The Chamerlain, apparently too large to pursue them through the opening the escaped through, stays behind. In one of my favorite shots in the whole movie, his gets angrier and growlier as he refrains, “Please! Wait! Please make peace!”
OK, what are to make of this exchange, and the fact that Jen seemed mesmerized for a second there by the Chamberlain? Also, why is the Chamberlain speaking in broken English in this scene when he doesn’t anywhere else in the film? The behind-the-scenes answer is that the original version of the film had the Skeksis speaking a fictional language throughout, and this would have been the first (only?) time one spoke in English. But, in terms of the story as we have it now, it’s interesting. In The Dark Crystal, there’s such a thing as soul-speaking. We see this in the movie whenever Kira communicates with animals, Disney princess-style. Turns out the Chamberlain has this ability as well, as we see him command a bunch of cute lil’ critters to do his bidding in the manga Legend of the Dark Crystal. A lot of fans believe that the Chamberlain is uses soul-speaking in this scene to mesmerize Jen, only for Kira to break the “spell.” It’s subtle, but you can kind of see it in the movie, especially the way the score makes itself known at that moment.
Hmmm… this is a short scene. How about we go over the voice actors?
Stephen Garlick as Jen. He had a number of TV roles in England in his childhood and teens, appearing in guest spots on The Tomorrow People, The New Adventures of Black Beauty, and even a 1983 Doctor Who serial, “Ibbotson.” It appears he left the acting game in the early ‘90s.
Lisa Maxwell as Kira. A child star in England, Maxwell has worked consistently in England, with a huge list of TV parts, including her own variety show, The Lisa Maxwell Show, in 1991. Last year, she joined the cast of the venerable English soap opera Eastenders.
Barry Dennen as the Chamberlain. Dennen has a long list of credits to his name, playing a number of character roles in everything from Jesus Christ Superstar to The Shining to Titanic. In the last 20 years or so, he’s worked mostly in voiceovers for animation and video games.
Billie Whitelaw as Aughra. The closest thing the movie has to stunt casting, Whitelaw was once a big name on radio and on Broadway. Her many film roles include Orson Welles’ Confidential Report, Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy, Richard Donner’s The Omen, and Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz.
Percy Edwards as Fizzgig. As a child, Edwards developed a talent for mimicking animal sounds, which he turned into a successful career in radio, TV, and film. He was the “voice” of the Orca in Orca, the reindeer in Santa Claus: The Movie, and even the alien in Ridley Scott’s Alien.
We’ll end it there for today.
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