The Dark Crystal Film Analysis

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Predecessor to the 80’s cult classic, The Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal was legendary puppeteer Jim Henson’s first attempt at creating a fantasy motion picture filmed entirely with intricate animatronics and puppets. The film is complete with heroes, villains and the other main elements of fantastical narratives as described by Russian scholar and folklorist Vladimir Propp in his breakthrough work, Morphology of the Folktale, which states that there is a sequence of 31 functions — certain actions that a character fulfills in order to advance the plot towards the “happy ending” — that can be applied to any fairy tale narrative in any medium: literature, film, theatre, etc. Although at first glance, the Dark Crystal’s familiar fantasy narrative may seem like a textbook rendition of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and Monomyth, subtle nuances in the narrative pattern — opposing Jungian character relationships and their intricate actions (Jen & Kira/ the Skeksis & Mystics) — more closely align and elevate a cinematic fairy tale such as Dark Crystal with Propp’s 31 functions even though a couple of these functions occur in a different order.
For the most part, Propp’s 31 functions can be found in The Dark Crystal through various sorts of character actions, better suited to his predicted structures than Joseph Campbell’s. The film starts off with a narrator, who lets the audience know about the background and setting
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It can be seen that Propp’s 31 functions provide variety and a more in depth description of fantastical elements and actions that are better suited to a film like Dark Crystal as opposed to Campbell’s more general 12

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