On May 18th, Jim Henson fans all around the world celebrated the news of a new prequel series from The Jim Henson Company and Netflix, titled The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. It was 4 am, Australian time, when I first saw the teaser circulating on Twitter. I was half-asleep when I clicked on it, but very much awake by the time skekTek did his big turnaround reveal.
On May 18th, Jim Henson fans all around the world celebrated the news of a new prequel series from The Jim Henson Company and Netflix, titled The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. It was 4am, Australian time, when I first saw the teaser circulating on Twitter. I was half-asleep when I clicked on it, but very much awake by the time skekTek did his big reveal.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This wasn’t just a promise; it was actual confirmation that something huge was about to take place. Heck, there was even a couple of shots of puppets being built. This was real. This was happening. This was exciting! I spent that entire day almost jittering around in glee, but then I remembered-
I wasn’t a Dark Crystal fan. Not yet anyway.
It was like the time I first discovered The Muppets, all over again. One second, I barely acknowledged their existence, then the next, they are pretty much my reason for existing. When I first watched The Dark Crystal, I watched it along with Labyrinth for a double feature since they came in the same DVD pack. It was more out of obligation for being a Jim Henson fan than actual interest. After the first viewing, I thought both films were okay at best. I initially enjoyed viewing the special features far more due to my love for behind-the-scenes documentaries. That was over two years ago. In that time, I’d watched The Dark Crystal perhaps four or five times before the announcement of the Netflix series. In the past month, I have viewed it twice as many times.
So why has the World of Thra only peeked my interest now? This is not a case of me simply jumping on the bandwagon because it’s suddenly relevant and cool. That wasn’t the case when I first joined the Henson fandom either; I had no idea there was a fandom to begin with!
No, I think the release of the teaser trailer last month kick-started an epiphany that had been brewing in the back of my mind for a while now. Whoever put that teaser together needs to be applauded for their ability to dig in to people’s emotions. It was almost too perfect. Even though I hadn’t connected with the original Dark Crystal film, hearing Jim Henson discuss his feelings on the film, while Brain Froud’s drawings are featured with Trevor Jones’ music playing in the background had me entranced. With the addition of clips showing Creature Shop guys building puppets and props, the teaser managed to hit all the right notes. Throw in skekTek the Scientist at the very end and suddenly I was caught hook, line and sinker.
Releasing a teaser that featured the behind-the-scenes process rather than the story was the best thing Netflix and Henson could have done as far as I’m concerned. Like I said earlier, I enjoyed the ‘making-of’ documentaries more than the actual films. Not just because I get to see how the Creatures were brought to life, but because of the people themselves. There’s nothing I love more than to watch footage of Jim directing a scene, or a group of performers rehearsing synchronisation for the mechanics of a single Creature. It’s what I love about The Muppets, Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth and I can’t believe how long it took me to realise it’s what I love about The Dark Crystal, too.
So, I don’t appreciate The Dark Crystal as a stand-alone film, but I can certainly enjoy it as an accumulation of everything Jim Henson wanted to try and the people he did it with. With ‘Age of Resistance’ promising to expand what we know of Thra in the medium of film, there is no reason why I shouldn’t begin to explore Thra in the books and comics that have been released. And so, I have. I recently finished J.M Lee’s ‘Shadows of the Dark Crystal’ and am looking forward to the next instalment in the series.
And that, folks, is why I’m excited about ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’. Now that I have realised the potential of Thra, the thought of there being people who want to continue what Jim, along with Frank Oz, Brian Froud and so many others had started, gives me a feeling of hope. It doesn’t matter whether these people are authors, illustrators or filmmakers, it all counts. They have already confirmed that the Creatures will be puppets in the new series, with CGI only as assistance, which makes the prospects of this upcoming series even more sweet.
Hopefully by the time Age of Resistance premieres, I’ll be all caught up with what I still need to learn and I’ll be good and ready to rediscover the Age of Wonder.