Australian Council on Children and the Media

Dark Crystal, The

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Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 11 (violence, scary scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Dark Crystal, The
  • a review of Dark Crystal, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 7 April 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to violence, scary scenes and themes.
Children aged 8–11 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary scenes and themes.
Children over the age of 11 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Dark Crystal, The
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Not specified
Length 93 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

A young Gelfling named Jen (voiced by Stephen Garlick) is charged with the task of restoring order to a dying world ruled by the evil Skeksis. The leader of the Mystics, who raised him after all his people were killed by the Garthim (the dark, crab-like, army belonging to the Skeksis), tells Jen that he must find the oracle Aughra (voice of Billie Whitelaw) and a missing shard of crystal. With little idea of where to go or what to do, Jen sets off to find Aughra who helps him find the crystal. No sooner has Jen located the shard, that he is attacked by the Garthim who have orders to kills him. Jen escapes into a terrible swamp-like forest where he meets Kira (voice of Lisa Maxwell), another orphaned Gelfling. Together they set off to fulfil a prophecy, help restore the shard to the crystal and bring peace to a world split apart.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death, genocide, separation from a parent, mythical quests, slavery, good versus evil.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • The Skeksis turn on one of their own, ripping his clothing and robes from his skeletal body before banishing him from their midst.
  • Two Skeksis fight with swords.
  • An army of creepy Garthim are ordered to kill Jen. They crash through the windows and destroy Aughra’s house, smashing her belongings and setting fire to everything before her home burns and explodes.
  • A mouth in the ground suddenly opens up and eats a passing animal.
  • A mother sacrifices herself while trying to save her child.
  • The story of the Gelfling genocide is briefly shown in memory scenes from Jen and Kira’s childhood.
  • The Skeksis eat crawlies for dessert; little animals that scurry across their table and must be captured before they are eaten. The crawlies try desperately to escape but are cornered and crammed into the Skeksis beak-like mouths, their legs still struggling and flailing.
  • The Garthim army attack the Podling community that raised Kira. Jen fights back with the crystal and, although he is injured, he and Kira manage to escape.
  • Podlings are taken prisoner, locked in cages and kept as slaves for the Skeksis.
  • Jen and Kira defend themselves against the evil Garthim, while riding a couple of long legged land striders. The Garthim overpower and kill the land striders while Jen and Kira are backed off a cliff and wind up in a pit full of skeletons.
  • Kira is kidnapped by one of the Skeksis after a wall collapses and falls on Jen, trapping him beneath the rubble. Meanwhile, Kira is told that her essence will be drained and she will be killed.
  • A group of animals attack the Skeksis who is trying to harm Kira. He is overpowered and falls into a fiery pit.
  • The Skeksis all chant that the Gelflings must die. Kira’s dog is thrown into a pit and is assumed dead. Kira is stabbed in the back by a Skeksis and she collapses on the ground.
  • Jen is blasted off the crystal, Garthim bodies begin to fall apart and crumble into pieces and Jen holds Kira’s lifeless body in his arms as the walls of the Skeksis castle collapse around them.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The film contains a steady stream of creepy, evil and monstrous looking characters. The Skeksis are all evil, vulture-like creatures with horrible hissing voices and grotesque features. They rule an army of vicious soldiers with large, claw-like, pincers who wreak havoc and destruction wherever they go. Even the helpful Aughra is shrivelled and haggard looking, her nose is missing and she only has one eye that she continuously pops out of its socket in order to get a better look around. The majority of the characters look frightening and could easily disturb many young children.
  • A creepy Skeksis who was banished from his people lurks in the shadows, constantly following Jen and Kira as they make their way towards The Dark Crystal. He makes a very disturbing sound and tries to entice them to come with him by lying and offering them what he thinks they want to hear. They see the truth and run away from him but he grabs Kira in the end and drags her to the other Skeksis who try to kill her.
  • Jen must make his way through a swamp and is very scared as he knows the Garthim are after him. He hears creepy sounds everywhere and sees a huge footprint and then hears a terrible growling sound, growing louder. It turns out to be a small dog-like creature but Jen is terrified. The scene is both suspenseful and intense.
  • A young podling is crying as it is forcibly strapped into a chair by a Skeksis and told that his living essence will be drained. As the little podling looks into the light of the crystal he looks like he begins to melt away, his face grows old and sags, his eyes bulge and his hair turns white.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Kira’s mother is shown placing her baby girl in the hollow of a tree before being grabbed by a Garthim's pincers while Gelflings all around her scream and die.
  • An old Skeksis dies a horrible, choking death while the other Skeksis watch on, waiting for the opportunity to see who will be the next king. His face is grotesque and when he dies his body just crumples in on itself.
  • The Garthim attack a Podling village. They grab Jen and he hits them with a shard of crystal. The Podlings are screaming and crying, many are captured and put in baskets to be taken to the Skeksis as slaves.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Some of the above mentioned scenes may also scare or disturb children on the lower end of this age group.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Jen is first seen sitting, without clothes, near a river playing a flute. Nothing explicit is shown.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • There is some name calling including: “Fools!”, “Putrid lizards,” “Stupid”, “Spithead,” and “Crab-brained soldiers”.

In a nutshell

The Dark Crystal is a puppet animated, fantasy film from the Henson studio. Highly acclaimed for its time, it was originally marketed as a family film but due to the dark nature of much of the content is best suited to families with older children.

The main messages from this movie are to follow your destiny, to believe in yourself, to remember that there are always two sides to every story and that ultimately, good will prevail.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Determination
  • Courage
  • Sacrifice
  • Patience
  • Trust.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Enslaving a population for your own personal needs.
  • Killing out of fear.
  • Being able to distinguish between truth and lies.
  • The darker side of human nature and how it can be overcome.

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