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The Dark Crystal vs. Labyrinth

Discussion in 'Fantasy Worlds' started by JMPrater, May 15, 2008.

  1. JMPrater Member

    I just watched Labyrinth again after many many years, and I was actually quite surprised at how much poorer the production values were compared to The Dark Crystal.

    After repeated viewings of TDC in large part, the film is flawless, aside from maybe the mouth work of the actual puppets themselves. I'm interested why production values were so staggeringly different, despite both films having in essence the same teams working on them.

    JMP
  2. lowercasegods Member

    The one thing I've noticed is how so much of Labyrinth looks like it's shot on a soundstage, whereas Crystal looks like it was shot in actual outdoor locations (though it too was largely shot on soundstages). Crystal just looks more lush, whereas Labyrinth looks more claustrophobic and almost two dimensional at times, though that actually works for the ambiguity and zaniness of the story.

    I don't think the production values were different per se, just that Jim wanted a different look and aesthetic for each film.
  3. RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Yeah, maybe Labyrinth was meant to look like a pop-up book, considering Sarah's taste in reading material.
  4. BeakerSqueedom Active Member

    <3 Either way, both were really charming movies.
    =D Great observation!
  5. Laszlo Member

    Labyrinth is less detailed but some of the animatronics are far more advanced than those in DC. Look at Hoggle. Or the Goblin Riders were really cleverly done. I also love how they combined Sir Dydimus with Ambrosius.
    I admit some of the backgrounds aren't convincing. Also the "black screen" sequence with the Fireys was terribly done with lines around the characters.
  6. heralde Well-Known Member

    This is purely my own opinion, but while I've always thought Dark Crystal was extremely impressive in its puppetry and special effects, the pacing of the story was too slow. I'm not able to watch it.

    Labyrinth on the other hand had a tighter story and that's more of what I'm looking for and was able to enjoy it.

    The special effects have to support a movie, they can't BE the movie.

    Just my two cents. Again, I definitely credit DC for being so innovative. :)
  7. frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Substantive Style and Suspense over Silliness and Slick Songs

    :scary: I enjoy the Dark Crystal more. It's not just a movie; it's a world with dense layers and a lived-in feel. It does have a story, one that was explained all too simply for my taste in the dream-fasting sequence. I would have liked more story elements, but I don't believe Labyrinth offers much more in that department. The Dark Crystal is one of my favorite films of all time.

    Labyrinth had more of a soundstage feel to it. I love this film, but it's not one of my particular favorites. There was never enough of a sense of jeopardy in the movie and ultimately I think that was its downfall. I would have liked Jim Henson to play up more of the creepy elements already present. The silly battle at the end just didn't work for me. The Storyteller series had a way of balancing fantasy and suspense for different age groups. As far as music goes there's no comparison. I love David Bowie and didn't mind his freaky tight pants. :eek:

    :) Dark Crystal gets my vote. I would like to see a sequel to Labyrinth. I would also like to see some sort of story that opens up the world of the Labyrinth worm. I love that little guy.
  8. heralde Well-Known Member

    The only critique I will give Labyrinth is that the story isn't explained quite enough. It's not clear initially why Sarah is so messed up and her journey is not fully explained. Mainly because she has no one to bounce off of at the beginning of the story. We sort of get hints that she has a step mother and hates her intruding step brother, but again more explanation was required.

    That being said, I think the moral of the film does eventually shine through brillantly. I think the whole point is that Sarah's kind of retreated into her love of fantasy and the Labryinth story (she has the book and the merchandise all over her room, from the Labryinth gift shop I assume! ;) ). But she's not really growing up and living in the real world. By having to save Toby, she finally takes some responsibility and becomes more mature. For instance, learning that life isn't always fair, "but that's the way it is."

    And by the end, while she has moved on and grown up, she is reassured that she can still go back to her fantasy life every now and then. It's a story of growing up basically but not losing that childlike innocence. Which is really the whole point of all of Henson's work. :)
  9. BobThePizzaBoy Well-Known Member

    I really prefer The Dark Crystal any day. When I was younger, I preferred Labyrinth over Dark Crystal probably because Labyrinth was more busy and closer to TMS than Dark Crystal but when I finally saw The Dark Crystal on the big screen a while back (the first time I watched the film directly from beginning to end), I loved it!

    I normally don't like very serious movies, but The Dark Crystal blows me away. One of the best, maybe THE best, fantasy movie I've ever seen. Everything about it is great and I can't nitpick it at all. It's absolutely timeless.

    Labyrinth, on the other hand, seems pretty dated in contrast to Dark Crystal. I still think Labyrinth is a great movie, just not great enough to buy and put on my DVD shelf. It wouldn't really get a lot of plays. I love the soundtrack, however, but I just think the movie itself is a bit slow and only has it's moments. I don't really get why so many fans prefer it over Dark Crystal.
  10. RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Yeah, but it's not Peter Jackson slow. LOL.

    I like Dark Crystal for its more realized world and characters. However, it was SUPPOSED to be a realized world. (That, and Chamberlain is my favorite character out of that whole thing, aside from Aughra.)

    However, Labyrinth, aside from *squealBowiesqueal*, is a little faster-paced and ... okay, Bowie makes this movie. :D

    On the "con" side of things, I only fault Dark Crystal for its pace. Labyrinth, much as I love it, seems a smidge more fabricated ... though, maybe it was supposed to, as I said earlier. And, the story IS explained, though I had to read it on the imdb forums to see it: Sarah's irritable, not only because she's a typical rebellious selfish teen, but because her mother ran off with a fellow stage actor and left her with Dad, who married Stepwitch (it's not fair to call her that, exactly, from just the movie, but she IS meaner in the manga Return to Labyrinth). However, you only see that in the scrapbook and a little on her mirror. Blink and it's gone. I'm DYING to see vol 3 of the manga, because Sarah and Jareth might get a little more in-depth. It's just a shame that, in the movie, you have to play it repeatedly and sometimes in slow-mo just to get the exposition and background.
  11. heralde Well-Known Member

    It is weird how people have such different reactions to the same films, hehe. I really find Dark Crystal too slow, there's not enough going on. As impressive as it definitely is, I can never finish it. Plus it feels more unapproachable. But I always adore the characters and adventures in Labyrinth. I feel tense wondering if Sara will win, and I enjoy the warmth and humor that comes from the characters. They seem more down to earth and relatable.

    But you know, with different people will come different reactions, and that's cool. :)

    And RedPiggy, thanks for sharing that about Labyrinth's plot! Like I said, the story IS there, but it could have been explained better with exposition at the beginning. I still prefer it to DC though. :)
  12. frogboy4 Inactive Member

    The Theater Experience

    :zany: Again, the advantage of growing up around this and with access to many local cineplexes resulted in my seeing all six theatrical Muppet movies, Follow that Bird, Dark Crystal and Labyrinth in the initial actual theater setting. It's an honor not taken lightly!

    That being said many people were first introduced to one or both of these films on home video. This means they were usually cropped, less than stellar transfers dwarfed by a smaller screen where they could be paused, scanned through and have the flow of the film experience broken in a way that was not intended. Home video is one of the best things to happen in entertainment, but that is its drawback. Well, that and it somehow encourages people to talk more in actual theater settings because they're used to watching NetFlix at home.

    :scary: Back to the topic at hand. I was 8 when seeing The Dark Crystal and was totally entranced with the world. I remember wanting it to be more Muppety at first, but soon forgetting that and losing myself in the film. Only the romance dragged it down for me, but at 8 I think that normal. One reason Crystal can alienate people is the actual lack of people in the film. I think it was brave and it worked, others disagree and felt at arm's length. I felt like part of the action in the film.

    I was 12 when seeing Labyrinth for the first time. I remember it being the opening day matinee. It dragged in the middle. I remember that even though things were happening on screen much of it seemed to meander and not propel the plot forward. It's beautiful in many ways, but I really think it should have been scarier and tightened up. That doesn't mean shorter, just beefier in parts. That romance didn't bother me, but it was creepy. I liked that. However I felt like a show was being performed in front of me that I never truly escaped into. There really was a soundstage feel to it.

    I love Labyrinth and can understand why other choose it as their fave, but there's something magical about the Dark Crystal that surpasses all other live action fantasy pictures and is still unmatched in my eyes today.

    :excited: One thing I don't get is the Muppet fans that don't care for either picture? I don't think the entire world of Jim Henson's work has ever come close to being adequately captured in documentary specials or in print. There is so much his body of work offers. The Muppet Show characters are by far my favorite (look around the design of Muppet Central's banners) but there is so much more to explore in Jim's work.
  13. Super Scooter New Member

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