Jim Henson’s pride and joy is one of his less famous works, a fantasy film named Dark Crystal that was filmed completely with originally made puppets. The film is complete with heroes, villains and the other main components of fantastical narratives as described by folklorist Vladimir Propp who states that in fairytale narratives there are 31 functions. A function is defined as, “an act of a character, defined from the point of view of its significance for the course of the action” which is a stable and constant element of the fairytale (Berger, 116). The 31 functions Propp describes are actions that the character fulfills to advance the plot to the eventual happy ending and include plot advancements such as “return” which is described as the heroes return to his/her homeland (Berger, 117). Although fairytales may sound simple, the functions and relations the characters fulfill are varied and complex; there is more than meets the eye at first glance to such a fairytale as Dark Crystal. The complexities include character relationships that are described as identifying one character due its contrast from another, such that a villain is only a villain because there is a hero to contrast their evil qualities (Berger, 118). Ultimately, there is more to fairy tale narratives than the simple battle between the hero and the villain, Dark Crystal exemplifies this through the display of Propp’s 31 functions and theories dealing with character relationships. Furthermore, due to puppetry as the medium in Dark Crystal, Propp’s functions and theories dealing with fantastical narratives are more obvious as the puppets are able to exaggerate the fantastical elements. In the Dark Crystal the main characters are Jen, an elf like puppet called a Gelfling, the wise old Mystics, and the villains known as Skeksis. Each type of puppet parallels their place in the story by how they look on the outside, which is how puppets as the medium in a fantasy story work to...
Cited: Berger, Arthur. "Propp, de Saussure, and the Narrative." Print.
Dark Crystal. Dir. Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Universal Studios, 1982. DVD.
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