The Dark Crystal. Courtesy of The Jim Henson Company/Museum of the Moving Image.

There must be something in the water at the Museum of the Moving Image. The venue is drowning in activity, everything from film programs to autism workshops to puppet-heavy exhibitions.

One ongoing series is “Summer Matinees: Fantastic Worlds,” which has been showing family-oriented movies in blocks. Jim Henson’s “The Dark Crystal” is the current focus with daily noon screenings until Aug. 18. Awash in puppetry and animatronics, the plot revolves around an elfin creature that searches for a missing shard of a magical crystal to restore order to his world.

This 1982 film is also the inspiration for a related exhibition, “Creatures from the Land of Thra: Character Design for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (above),” which unveils on Sept. 11. It will mix puppets, maquettes, design material, and behind-the-scenes images from the new Netflix series. Main characters such Hunter Skeksis, General Skeksis, a Fizzgig, and the All-Maudra and Seladon Gelflings will be on display until Feb. 23, 2020. (The 10-part Netflix series “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” premieres on Aug. 30. Set many years before the story depicted by the 1982 Henson film, it stars Gelfling heroes that attempt to save their world.)

Don’t forget The Jim Henson Exhibition, which is on longtime view. It contains almost 300 objects, including 47 of the namesake’s puppets, as well as character sketches, storyboards, photographs, and costumes. As part of this Henson mania, the museum will host Sing: The Music of Sesame Street on Aug. 18 at 2 p.m. Three contributors — composer Christopher Cerf, vocalist Ivy Austin, and vocal music director Paul Rudolph — will share their favorite musical moments from the show and discuss their creative process. They’ll also share clips and enjoy a live performance.

Returning to “Summer Matinees: Fantastic Worlds,” the blockbuster “Spirited Away” will screen from Aug. 21 to Aug. 25. This Japanese film about a sorceress-run world of spirits won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2001. (Watch it on Aug. 21-23 at noon or Aug. 24-25 at 11:30 a.m.)

All the while, “Hamlet (1996)” is set for Aug. 18 and Aug. 24 at 4:30 pm and Aug. 25 at 2 pm. This take on the classic Shakespeare tragedy has a turbo-charged, all-star cast that includes Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Kate Winslet, Charlton Heston, and French actor Gérard Depardieu. Plus, Plácido Domingo sings on the soundtrack. The epic is 238 minutes long with an intermission, but the plot is similar, although adapted to the 19th century.

Hamlet (1996),” is part of the See It Big! series, which began on Aug. 1 and runs until Sept. 8. The films are in 70 mm format, which projects vivid images and rich sounds.

Here’s the remaining schedule.

  • Dunkirk,” a 2017 retelling of World War II’s bloody Battle of Dunkirk that won three Oscars. (Aug. 16 at 7 p.m., Aug. 17 at 4 p.m., Aug. 24 and Sept. 1 at 2 p.m.)
  • Brainstorm,” a SciFi thriller about a device that records thoughts and dreams. (Aug. 22, Aug. 25 and Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.)
  • It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” a 1963 comedy about a treasure hunt with Hollywood legend Spencer Tracy. (Aug. 31 and Sept. 7, 2 p.m., Sept. 1 and Sept. 8, 5 p.m.)
  • Ready Player One,” a SciFi gem about a visual world where can go anywhere, do anything, and be anyone. (Aug. 30 at 7 p.m., Aug. 31 and Sept. 7 at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 8 at 2 p.m.)

The Museum of the Moving Image is located at 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria’s Kaufman Arts District.


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