‘Dark Crystal’ prequel revives the magic of puppetry


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The Netflix original premired on August 30 to widespread praise.

Kathryn Burkhart, Santa Fe Editor-in-Chief

New life has been given to Jim Henson’s 1982 cult classic The Dark Crystal in the form of the Netflix original The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, an enthralling 10-episode series that transports new and nostalgic viewers alike back to the mystical fantasy world of Thra. The first season of the series has been met with widely positive views, most notably for integrating traditional puppetry into a complex and mature storyline that delivers a Tolkien-esque environment.

For those unfamiliar with the original, The Dark Crystal centers around the journey of the Gelfling (a elf-like creature created by Henson) Jen-the last of his kindto save the fictional world of Thra from the evil, vulture-like creatures called the Skeksis. The film was entirely handmade, from the all-puppet cast to the immense set pieces. An artistic and technological marvel of its time, Netflix’s prequel series evokes the same dark yet mystical atmosphere by using the same technologies from nearly 40 years ago and combining it with today’s CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery). 

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, which takes place 40 years before the events of the original, follows the stories of three GelflingRian (Taron Egerton), Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel), and Brea (Anya Taylor-Joy)as they become involved in a resistance against the tyrannical Skeksis as well as a deeper, darker evil that is slowly corrupting the creatures of Thra. The series hosts an all-star castMark Hamill, Helena-Bonham Carter, Simon Pegg, and Jason Issacswhose performances bring the animated characters to life. 

Not only does the series create breathtaking worlds and backstory using top-notch puppetry, it also introduces a new audience to the mature themes and imagery that would not be found in a “kid’s” series that uses puppetry or animation. In fact, some scenes may be too intense for younger viewers; the same can be said of the original Dark Crystal. There are several more twisted scenes intertwined with the normal ones, but there is a perfect balance between magical and scary.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance defies the trope of puppetry and animation being “just for children” and opens the viewer’s eyes to a near-forgotten medium that can be utilized to create an incredibly immersive and subversive tale. If you are looking for a fresh take on an ancient art, give The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance a watch and join the rebellion.

For more information contact Kathryn Burkhart: [email protected]