"When single shines the triple sun What was sundered and undone Shall be whole, the two made one By gelfling hand or else by none."
A 1982 science fiction/fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz with creature design by fantasy artist Brian Froud. Out of any of Jim Henson's works, this was probably one of the most complex, being done completely with animatronic puppets in the well developed setting of the planet Thra.One thousand years ago, the titular crystal was whole. When it cracked on the day of the Great Conjunction of the planet's three suns, it split its UrSkek keepers into two halves and two new races appeared, the Always Chaotic Evil and aggressive Skeksis and the Always Lawful Good but all too passive Mystics (aka urRu). A few centuries later, the Skeksis discovered a prophecy that the elf-like Gelflings would heal the crystal, thus undoing their reign, so they sent their Garthim to hunt them down and kill them all. All except for the protagonists Jen and Kira, the last of their kind.Though it didn't do as well on its initial theatrical run, it spawned a cult following large enough to warrant a spin-off OEL Manga prequel (Legends of the Dark Crystal) by Tokyopop and a graphic novel prequel trilogy (The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths) by Archaia Entertainment. A sequel titled Power of the Dark Crystal has been stuck in Development Hell for years (to the point that Robot Chicken did a skit on the matter).
The Dark Crystal includes examples of:
Absent Aliens: Inverted. No humans here; the Gelflings are pretty humanoid, but not human.
Actual Pacifist: The Urru are kind gentle creatures, but they do nothing to stop the Skekses from destroying the land, enslaving the Podlings and committing genocide against the Gelflings. Partly justified in that the Urru could not act against their evil counterparts without destroying themselves in the process. Word Of God says even if they wanted to commit suicide to stop the Skekses, the Urru have no will to act, because all the strength and drive of the Urskeks is embodied in the Skekses themselves.
Age Without Youth: Applies to both the Mystics and Skeksis (though they're not technically immortal), but the Skeksis suffer a bit more from it, especially when you learn that they weren't outwardly evil in their early days, but rather represented the passionate hedonistic side of the Urskek, and were rather pleasant to party with. Then as they aged for a thousand years, their true nature slowly manifest itself as a rotting from the inside out. They could reverse their decay by drinking the vital essence of other living creatures, but the effect was always temporary.
Alas, Poor Villain: The Skeksis, when not plotting to kill Gelflings or drain Podlings of their life energy; are an Affably Evil, warped brethren who get along despite disliking each other, and their desire to keep living as separate entities is somewhat sympathetic until the priest kills Kira
Artificial Limbs: The Skeksis Slave Master has a hook for a hand while the Scientist has a mechanical arm. Their Mystic counterparts have wooden limbs in the same places.
Ax Crazy: SkekZok, the ritual master, is the first to suggest killing Kira when she is captured and is the one who stabs her to death.
Balance Between Good and Evil: Literally; since the Mystics and Skeksis are actually two halves of one being - if one of them dies, so does their counterpart.
The Beastmaster: Kira can call out to just about any animal out there and coax it into helping her. There are a lot of weird animals out there and this ability comes in very handy.
Beauty Equals Goodness: Played with. The protagonists, the Gelflings, are obviously intended to be attractive, despite any Uncanny Valley that may be invoked by looking at them. The pure urRu are made to look noble and sagacious, and when they die, they fade into sparkles. The Skeksis on the other hand, are clearly intended to look twisted, deformed and vulture-like, which is made even worse by their advanced age. Aughra, however, is quite hideous and warty, yet proves to be a helpful character. A bit of background checking shows that in the grand scheme of things, she's actually supposed to be True Neutral, and not one to take sides. It gets really confusing with the Podlings, who are supposed to be a good, Closer to Earth race, yet somehow they wound up looking Ugly Cute at the same time. Brian Froud did admit that he toned down their appearance from the earliest incarnations, because those were far too grotesque and potato-like.
Emperor:Mine!ehh-ehh Mine! Not! I-I-I-I am still em... pe... ror.. I ... (dies, crumbles into dust)
Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Aughrua, when cussing out (in her language) the Skekses for sending their mooks to burn down her observatory rather than just asking her for the location of the Gelfling.
The Skeksis are taken aback and one cries out in offense, "Oh, how rude!"
Disney Villain Death: The Skeksis Scientist. Although it was into a shaft into the center of the planet, and we see his opposite burn to death.
Dissonant Laughter: The Chamberlain begins to laugh as the castle crumbles and the UrRu enter. It's clear he knows exactly what is going to happen next. It's ambiguous as to whether he's pleased by the prophecy being fulfilled or simply doesn't care anymore.
Alternatively, He might have gone so hysterical that he has no idea what's going on anymore.
Duet Bonding: Kira and Jen have a nice duet as they cruise down the river.
Enemy Without: Played with; each of the Urru and Skekses are literally two equal halves of a whole being. Word Of God says that in the past, the Urskeks tried to use the light of the Crystal to purify themselves by burning out the evil in them. Instead of purification, they achieved division because their darker halves were as much a part of their fundamental nature as their lighter halves.
Eye Scream: Aughra can remove her own eyeball at will and use it like a remote camera. While it doesn't hurt her, it certainly is weird...
In the backstory, she lost her other eye and came to be how she looks in the film when she laid on the ground to watch the Great Conjunction. A beam of intense light struck her eye, destroying it and burning her badly.
Fountain of Youth: The Skekses use the light of the crystal focused by a reflector to drain the vital essence of other creatures into a liquid form that they can consume to restore their youth. Podlings restore youth for a handful of seconds. Gelflings restore it for a longer period, but the rejuvenation is still ultimately fleeting. The Skekses exterminated nearly the entire Gelfling race for their essence which ran out as a result.
Grotesque Gallery / Ugly Cute: A fascinating case, since the entire world is composed of muppets and environment that are either deliberately alien or designed off of nature's less cute critters, making the whole thing one dark fairy tale based on look alone.
Heel Face Turn: Completely subverted with the Chamberlain. Defrocked and kicked out of the Skeksis' castle, he makes obvious peace overtures to Jen and Kira. When Jen stabs him for his pains, his friendly facade completely drops and he tries to kill Jen and promptly drags Kira back to the castle to redeem himself in the eyes of the other Skekses. It's pretty clear that his promises of peace are Blatant Lies and his whole motivation is to capture a gelfling or two in order to ingratiate himself with the Skekses and get his position back. He is The Starscream after all.
Heroic Blue Screen Of Death: Jen has one. He healed the Crystal, but Kira is dead. She comes back, but still... not to mention everything going crazy in the castle that makes one wonder if Jen actually succeeded.
Heroic Sacrifice: Many of the cute little fuzzballs that force SkekTek into the bottomless shaft go down with him. Fizzgig too, though he ends up catching hold of something and gets rescued by Aughra. And of course, Kira.
Hobbits: This is more or less what gelflings and/or Podlings are supposed to be. They're much smaller than all the other people in the setting, and the podlings are definitely merry.
Ironic Name: The Skeksis scientist's laboratory, where he keeps all those jailed critters and drains Podlings and Gelflings from their vital essence? Its official name is "the Chamber of Life".
Conversely, it's a Meaningful Name for the Skekses themselves, as they extract a life-prolonging potion from the Pod People and Gelflings in there.
It's All About Me: Selfishness is probably the core character trait of each individual Skeksis. The accompanying material says that although they hate each other as much as they hate Gelflings, they need each other to maintain their hold over Thra; the minimum number of them to maintain the balance being ten. It's probably the only reason they don't kill each other off completely. Word Of God says it's also why UrSu, the leader and wisest of the Urru chose to die - to unbalance the Skekses by taking SkekSo with him.
Jabba Table Manners: The Skeksis, Sans SkekEkt, who happens to be a dainty eater. SkekAyuk the Gourmand is of course the worst offender.
Also justified, since he was raised in a rather sheltered environment, by very gentle and passive minded beings, and wasn't taught much in the way of survival skills (instead receiving education in things like writing and music, which however does prove useful in the course of the story).
Load-Bearing Boss: An enormous subversion; Once the shard is rejoined with the Dark Crystal, the castle appears to fall apart inside and out in great chunks of stone and mortar. Actually the stone and mortar is merely a thousand years of accumulated filth and grime which is disintegrated by the power of the pure crystal, leaving a pristine castle of pure cut diamond as it originally was.
Mood Whiplash: Jen is taken to the Podling village by Kira. They have a feast and dance to celebrate....then the Garthim arrive.
Mordor: The castle of the Skeksis and the land surrounding it are dark, barren, and forbidding. That is until the Skeksis are no more.
Mythopoeia: The book The World of the Dark Crystal covers a lot of back story
Needle in a Stack of Needles: Jen has to dig through a box of nearly identical crystal shards to find the one that actually is the missing chunk of the Dark Crystal. He identifies it after using a trick with his flute which he learned from the urRu.
Staff of Authority - The Skeksis emperor carries a scepter which designates his office. In the death scene of the first emperor, Chamberlain indicates his eagerness to take over by reaching for the scepter.
There Is Another: Jen believed he was the last surviving Gelfling until he ran into Kira (and vice versa).
The Resenter: SkekZok the ritual master is visibly resentful of SkekUng's rise to power. He even questions the new emperor's competency when it seems the Garthim have failed to capture Jen. In the written material, SkekZok was described as the old emperor's favorite and he had his own ambitions to take the throne when the emperor died. Unlike SkekSil, SkekZok just didn't have the balls to make his play for the throne against SkekUng.
The Starscream: SkekSil the Chamberlain tries to grab the emperor's scepter even before he's dead.
Unflinching Walk: Augrha casually walks through the castle as it is falling to pieces around her.
World Building: What Brian Froud and Jim Henson did before making the movie.
World Half Full: By the ending, sure the Crystal is healed, the UrSkeks are restored and the land becomes green and good again, but the Gelfling race is still all but extinct with seemingly only two left, not to mention the decimation of the Podling race. There's a feeling that while things are much better, they aren't as good as the time before all the strife began.