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The urRu, also known as Mystics, were a race that inhabited the Valley of the Standing Stones. They originated during Thra's second Great Conjunction, when the Fallen urSkeks attempted to purify themselves through the heat of the three suns shining on the Crystal. Instead of being cleansed of their darker natures, each urSkek was split into two beings; Skeksis and urRu. The urRu were the embodiments of the peaceful, contemplative side of the urSkeks' nature. Their name meant "old and wise ones".[1]

Despite the separation, there was still a spiritual link between each Skeksis and urRu counterpart, a constant reminder that they were only halves of the same being. If either was wounded, the other felt the pain and suffered an identical injury. If one died, both died.[2]

Characteristics Edit

Biology and appearance Edit

YoungurRu

The urRu, as they appeared shortly after the Great Division.

Their faces were thrust forward on long, heavily maned necks, and were deeply wrinkled with runic patterns which represented each urRu's lines of thought. They walked with a swaying motion, and had long tails which were insufficient to counterbalance the weight of their heads. [1] When they first appeared, the urRu were lean and fairly agile creatures,[3] though by the time of Jen's quest, they relied on walking sticks to move properly, which they held with their forearms, while their hind arms hung to the ground.[1] The corona that once flowed through the urSkeks was still present in the urRu, though in a much reduced state.[2]

Culture Edit

Their garments resembled a cross between a coat and a saddle blanket.[1] These cloaks, which were modeled after the Tree of Life,[2] were fashioned by a system of knotting threads, which formed patterns representing the wearer's thoughts.[1]

Although intelligent, the knowledge of the urRu was entirely conceptual, having no drive to learn through practice or example. This was in contrast with the Skeksis, who were an innovative and vibrant race, responsible for numerous innovations. Their collective guilt over the Great Division was such that they were unable to perform spontaneous actions, and would spend days trying to discover all permutations that could result from literally binding everyday objects together with string.[1] Cutting objects with scissors went contrary to all urRu beliefs, thus objects such as string were separated through chewing.[2]

Their nature was such that they were completely incapable of violence. Two urRu were killed without resistance by the Skeksis shortly after the Great Division,[3] and Jen noted that the urRu never beat him, no matter how badly he behaved.[1]

History Edit

The Great Division Edit

Threeraces

The urSkeks are split into Skeksis and urRu.

After nine hundred and ninety-nine and one trine passed since their arrival on Thra, the Fallen urSkeks created a network of mirrors around the Great Crystal with Aughra's help, intending to trap the light of the next Great Conjunction to re-enter their world and burn out the imperfections in their souls in the process.[2] In preparation for this, the urSkeks invited delegations representing all of Thra's sentient races to watch the occasion. However, one urSkek became wracked by nostalgia after hearing a member of the Gelfling delegation play an urSkek song, and allowed its darker nature to overwhelm it. When the Three Suns met, the dark hearted urSkek's rage prevented the rest of the urSkeks from entering the Crystal and being cleansed. Instead of being purified, the urSkeks were divided into two separate races; the cruel Skeksis and gentle urRu.[3]

Shortly after gaining consciousness in the Crystal Chamber, one of the Skeksis attacked and killed two urRu, thus resulting in the deaths of itself and another Skeksis. The remaining 16 urRu were driven out of the castle, closely followed by an earthquake caused by the cracking of the Crystal. The urRu managed to halt the earthquake's progress through song, though not in time to save the Podling village of Noy.[3]

The Garthim Wars and Jen's quest Edit

The Skeksis largely left the urRu to their own devices,[2] though they feared that the urRu would reveal the Skeksis' true nature to the Gelflings. In order to counter this, skekSil the Chamberlain spread rumours among the Gelfling clans that the urRu were cruel wizards who devoured the souls of Gelfling children. He even proposed capturing and imprisoning them in the Castle in order to stop them influencing the Gelflings.[4] Aware of the prophecy that foretold of the reversal of the Great Division, urSu the Master adopted the Gelfling Jen and prepared him as he grew for his role in finding the Shard of the Division and healing the Dark Crystal. However, they never told Jen of the Great Division, nor what the purpose of finding the Shard was. As the third Great Conjunction approached only 10 of the original 18 urRu were left. As 10 was the number of stability, urSu allowed himself to die in order that the coinciding death of skekSo the Emperor would plunge the remaining nine Skeksis into disarray. Before dying, urSu sent Jen to find the shard and heal the Dark Crystal. After Jen managed to identify the true shard, and escaped from the Garthim, urZah the Ritual Guardian lead the urRu towards the Castle, during which time both urTih the Alchemist and skekTek the Scientist died. When Jen healed the Crystal, the urRu marched into the Castle and merged with the Skeksis.[1]

Non-canon appearances Edit

In the continuity established by Legends of the Dark Crystal, the urRu took no active part in the Garthim Wars 800 trine after the Great Division, though a few urRu, notably urSen the Monk, guided the Gelfling Larh during his times of self-doubt.[5][6]

Behind the scenes Edit

In conceiving the urRu, Henson was inspired by the trolls featured in Brian Froud's The Land of Froud and Once upon a Time.[7] He incorporated them in his 1977 draft entitled The Mithra Treatment, in which they were identified as Bada. In Henson's notes, the Bada are portrayed as a tribe of wizards oppressed by the Reptus group (the precursors of the Skeksis). They would have raised Brian, one of the last Eunaze (which would later become the Gelflings).[8] During the 1978 noreaster, Henson was confined to a hotel room for 72 hours, and took the opportunity to expand on the Bada, renaming them urRu and modifying their connection to the Skeksis, from simple oppressed subjects to separate branches of the same species.[9] From the beginning, Henson saw them as beings that had purged themselves of all material desires, but lacking the will to act in the real world.[10]

DesignEdit

Although Henson wanted the urRu to look like Froud's trolls, the latter modified the creatures to have four arms, in order not to lose his own creations' copyright. In portraying them as creatures in harmony with the world of Thra, Froud incorporated the same runic symbols seen on the world's landscape onto their clothes and skin.[7] The urRu were designed as more connected to the natural world than the Skeksis,[10] and the connection between the two races was suggested by giving them both the same basic shape, but with more rounded features for the urRu.[11] Their sand paintings were based on the mandala of Hindu and Buddhist iconography.[12]

Fabrication and shootingEdit

The creation of the urRu suits was supervised by Sherry Amott, who had previously worked on the Muppet dog Barkley in Sesame Street, himself portrayed via a full-body costume.[7] The actors playing the urRu had to maintain stooped postures that limited their mobility. For some scenes, it was necessary to use a platform in order to allow the actor to manipulate the head and another to move the arms.[13] To contrast the impracticality of the suits, the urRu puppets were made in sections connected by Velcro, thus facilitating removal after shooting was done. In close-ups, the actors limited themselves to manipulating the head. To further facilitate performances, the costume designers fabricated the interior structures of the puppets with nylon boning, thus preventing the performers from overheating.[7]

The urRu were the most difficult creatures to perform, with Henson himself noticing that he couldn't maintain a posture in the suit for more than 5-10 seconds.[14] Jean-Pierre Amiel, a Swiss mime, was hired to teach the performers how to walk and stay still in hunched positions.[7] Amiel also performed urUtt, the urRu Weaver, in the film.

Although Henson intended to give the urRu a more prominent role in the film, he had to cut most of their scenes, as his sponsors considered the characters boring, in contrast to the Skeksis.[15]

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston . ISBN 0030624363
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Froud, B. & Llewellyn, J. J., (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Froud, B., Dysart, J., Sheikman, A. & John, L. (2012). The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. II. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-936393-80-0
  4. The Dark Crystal Author Quest: The Gelfling Gathering, The Jim Henson Company (2013)
  5. Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2007) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 1: The Garthim Wars. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167014
  6. Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2010) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 2: Trial by Fire. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167022
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 C. Gaines, The Dark Crystal The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, 2017, pp. 90-97, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
  8. Jim Henson, The Mithra Treatment [DVD special Feature]. The Dark Cyrstal: Collector's Edition, Dir. Jim Henson & Frank Oz. 1982. Colombia Tristar Home Entertainment, 2003. DVD.
  9. C. Gaines, The Dark Crystal The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, 2017, p. 28, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Making-of. Reflections of the Dark Crystal: Light on the Path of Creation. Dir. Michael Gillis. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2007. DVD.
  11. C. Gaines, The Dark Crystal The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, 2017, p. 78, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
  12. C. Gaines, The Dark Crystal The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, 2017, p. 123, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
  13. C. Finch, The Making of the Dark Crystal: Creating a Unique Film, Henry Holt & Co, 1983, p. 58, ISBN 0-03-063332-X.
  14. Making-of. The World of the Dark Crystal. Dir. Jim Henson & Frank Oz. 1982. Colombia Tristar Home video, 1999. DVD.
  15. B. J. Jones, Jim Henson: The Biography, Ballantine Books, 2013, p. 345, ISBN 978-0-345-52611-3.

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