The Dark Crystal Soundtrack
25th Anniversary Edition
Composed by: Trevor Jones
Performed By: The London Symphony Orchestra (Conducted by Marcus Dods)
Distributed by: La-La Land Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I was 12 years old when The Dark Crystal first hit the movie theaters. The fantasy film, the first to be co-directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, entirely consisted of the puppet characters and creatures Henson is famous for. Of course, this movie was of a more serious nature and thus, the characters of Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie and others were not present in the film. Instead, the film centered around a young humanoid creature named Jen, who believes that he is the last of his people, the Gelflings. It becomes Jen’s mission to “heal” the Crystal of Truth, which was destroyed over a thousand years ago, causing a great change on the planet of Thra. Once the Crystal of Truth was destroyed, the luminescent urShek people became divided into two races – gentle hunchbacked beings known as Mystics and cruel bipeds known as Skeksis. The Skesis have been reeking havoc all over the land and it is believed that by healing the Crystal of Truth, the reign of terror will end and peace will come once more to Thra.
Of course, this move took place over 25 years ago, and other than the striking figures cut by the puppet creatures featured in The Dark Crystal and the color of the crystal shard in Jen’s possession (a deep amethyst purple), I barely remembered the story. Happily, Sony Home Entertainment has released a 25th Anniversary DVD Edition of The Dark Crystal and with its release, comes La-La Land Records’ release of the 25th Anniversary Edition of the original soundtrack as composed by Trevor Jones.
As soon as I placed the CD into the player, I was immediately struck by the beauty of Trevor Jones’ composition as performed by The London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marcus Dods. A fan of the numerous Star Wars soundtracks, I am no stranger to the sound of The London Symphony Orchestra, but the beauty of the music emanating from the speakers was truly captivating. Beginning with The Dark Crystal Overture, I found myself air-conducting. You know what I’m talking about – you stand there with a pen or an imaginary conductor’s baton and begin to move said object to the sound of the music, waving your other hand with the flow of the music. Anyone who can appreciate music knows the value of a piece that is able to move one to such feats that will almost certainly make others walking by give you a strange glance or two. So moving is the music of The Dark Crystal Soundtrack that one will barely notice the stares or laugh them off as coming from people who have no concept of the beauty of a well-composed musical piece.
Anyone who has read my numerous music reviews knows that I am a great fan of pieces that include sounds/instruments that one might not hear very often. The fifth track, The Funerals / Jen’s Journey supplies the listener with more than just violins, horns and drums. This piece begins with the sound of organs, gothic and ominous, followed by flutes that are used introduce the beautifully mystical sounds of the harp and what may be the bell-like sounds of a xylophone. The Pod Dance, the seventh track on the CD, provides us with the traditional sounds of folk-instruments playing a piece that is fast-paced and celebratory in manner. Anyone who doesn’t tap their foot to this music is just beyond the flow of music’s reach.
The soft sounds of string instruments and flutes begin the Love Theme, the eight track of The Dark Crystal Soundtrack. The composition rises in crescendo becoming more and more powerful until its more sedate conclusion. Track nine, entitled Gelfling Song, seriously spooked my cat with its sounds of nature – birds singing, frogs croaking, etc. – and the rise and fall of a hauntingly eerie voice. The Finale is much like the Overture of the first track, however, it is infinitely more intense. Its rising tempo toward the center of the piece may remind some of the shower scene in Psycho, but this soon fades into the sounds of beauty followed by the quaint and celebratory sounds of The Pod Dance.
Overall, The Dark Crystal Soundtrack perfectly tells the story of the movie without the visuals. Because it had been many years since I last saw the movie, I was surprised at how quickly many of the scenes were brought back to me just by the wonderful composition of Trevor Jones. For someone who has never seen the movie before, this soundtrack is still a musical treat with its orchestral beauty. The 25th Anniversary Edition of The Dark Crystal Soundtrack is a must-have for any music lover and most especially for any fan of The Dark Crystal movie!