Frame by Frame: The Dark Crystal (1982)

Year1982
Decade1980s
Cinematographer  Oswald Morris (IMDB link)
DirectorJim Henson, Frank Oz
Aspect Ratio2.40
DistributorUniversal
GenreFantasy
Cameras – Panaflex
Lenses  Anamorphic
Format  35mm
Schedule – Principal photography began on April 15th, 1981 and wrapped on September 11th, 1981. The film was shot at EMI Elstree Studios near London.

The Movie
A pair of elf-like creatures on the planet Thra embark on a quest to repair the titular gem – and thus end the reign of a species of revolting reptile/bird hybrids called the Skeksis. Jim Henson’s all-puppet extravaganza was a modest hit during the Christmas season of 1982, but was overshadowed by the blockbuster success of E.T. earlier that year. However, the film became a home video favorite for a generation of kids – myself included – who were equal parts terrified and enthralled by The Dark Crystal, which was significantly more frightening than unsuspecting parents anticipated from the creator of The Muppets.
The film was the swan song of three-time Oscar nominated cinematographer Oswald Morris, who shot the movie back-to-back with Henson’s The Great Muppet Caper and then hung up his light meter.

Further Reading
Starlog, April 1983 issue (Download)
American Cinematographer, December (1982) (Download)
Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History
The Making of the Dark Crystal Continue Reading ›

Pic of the Day: Behind the scenes of David Lynch’s Dune (1984)

Behind the scenes of David Lynch's Dune

American Cinematographer recently shared an interview with Freddie Francis from its March 1998 issue that included the photo above from the set of David Lynch’s Dune. Francis, a two-time Oscar winner, also shot Lynch’s The Elephant Man and The Straight Story.

It’s an incredible piece that covers the breadth of Francis’ career, from his beginnings as a clapper boy in Britain in the early 1930s to shooting Cape Fear, The Innocents, and Glory.

Here’s one of the many pearls of wisdom from Francis…

“If someone asks me, ‘I loved that shot, how did you light it?’, I’ll think they’ve lost the point. My explanation doesn’t mean a thing because there are 20 ways to light a shot and get the same result. Why you do something is far more important than how.”

Check out more Pics of the Day

In the age of wonder: More than 30 “Making Of” pics from The Dark Crystal (1982)

With the prequel The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance now out on Netflix, here’s a collection of behind the scenes photos from the 1982 original. Also, check out my interview with Age of Resistance cinematographer Erik Wilson.

Sources
The Dark Crystal official site
Extras from The Dark Crystal Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray
Starlog, April 1983
ASC Mag, December 1982
Jim Henson – The Muppet Master blog