The Dark Crystal was written by Bob Odell, based on a treatment by the creator of The Muppets, Jim Henson.  Henson and his frequent collaborator, Frank Oz, co-directed the film that saw its wide release on December 17, 1982.  

The Dark Crystal is kind of the culmination of Jim Henson’s aspirations as a puppeteer.  His vision of a project that starred only puppets with no human characters reaches back to his early days on Saturday Night Live with his much-maligned Land of Gorch sketches.  However, with SNL, he was trying to make a round peg fit into a square hole, whereas with The Dark Crystal, Henson would be free to create the world he wanted to see.

And what a world it is.  The planet Thra is filled with imaginative creatures like the evil vulture-like Skeksis, the four-armed mystic urRu, the elfish Gelfling, and, a personal favorite from childhood, the giant crab beetles known as the Garthim, among many other inhabitants that only Henson and company could create.  

Unfortunately, not everyone saw the splendor of Henson’s vision, as the film brought in $41 million on a $25 million budget, making it only a modest hit at the time.  Critics also weren’t particularly kind with The New York Times saying it was just watered down Tolkien and Time Magazine called out Henson for lacking the giddy fun of his previous projects like Sesame Street and The Muppet Show

However, Variety noted that it was “a dazzling technological and artistic achievement”, and The Washington Post said the film “leaves no doubt that Jim Henson and his colleagues have reached a point where they can create and sustain a powerfully enchanting form of cinematic fantasy”.  And, despite the box office receipts or critics’ reviews, the film has earned a rather large cult following among Gen Xers and Millennials.  

Today’s read-along record book is from Buena Vista Records, a branch of the Disney Music Group.  I’m assuming it’s because of The Dark Crystal’s popularity with fans that this read-along record actually goes for a pretty penny on eBay, with auctions topping out around $25 to $35.  I felt rather lucky when I got mine a few years ago for just under $20. 

If you’d like to hear The Dark Crystal read-along record book, head over to to listen to it as an episode of my podcast, When You Hear This Sound. You’ll also find the complete record book scans there so you can follow along as you listen!

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