A thousand years ago, the planet of Thra was green and good. Then the Crystal cracked, and a single piece was lost. Strife began and two new races appeared. There was the cruel Skeksis and the gentle Mystics. The Skeksis took control of the Castle of the Crystal. They learned to draw new life from the sun to cheat death through the power of The Dark Crystal.
Jim Henson and Frank Oz directed The Dark Crystal (1982), a puppet animated dark fantasy adventure film. The film tells the story of Jen, the last of the Gelfling race, who must fulfill a prophecy by finding the lost crystal shard. If he fails, all of Thra will be doomed.
Another World, Another Time
The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance, takes place on the planet Thra prior to the events of the original movie, The Dark Crystal. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019) is a prequel that was developed by Jeffrey Addiss, Will Matthews, and directed by Louis Leterrier.
The story initially follows the Gelfling, Rian. Rian belongs to the clan, Stonewood, and serves as a guard at the Castle of the Crystal. He quickly discovers the horrifying truth about Skeksis’ power. He escapes and sets out on a journey with two other Gelflings to ignite a rebellion against them.
The Power Of The Gelflings In The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance
The series begins with a voice-over, performed by Sigourney Weaver. The narrator mentions Aughra’s role in protecting the Crystal, and how it connects all creatures of Thra. Yet, the closest to her heart was the Gelflings. The story focuses on three of the seven different Gelfling clans. The first clan featured was Vapra. They are the most well-educated and cultured clan, believing themselves to be better than other Gelfling clans.
The series introduces Princess Brea, daughter of All-Maudra, who values truth and knowledge above else. Next, there is Stonewood, Rian’s clan. They are well-known for their prowess in battle. Lastly, there is the gentle Grottan. They live deep beneath the ground, in perfect harmony with all of Thra, forgotten by the world above. Deet, belonging to the Grottan clan, goes on a journey after receiving a warning from The Sanctuary Tree about The Darkening.
Rian is the main Gelfling protagonist. After being witness to a terrifying incident, he risks his life to bring the truth to the other Gelflings about the evil Skeksis. He barely escapes, but this event eventually brings together all three Gelfings of the different clans. However, prior to the catalyst of the series, the audience gains insight into the lives of these Gelflings. This helps to highlight each of their unique traits, making it easy to distinguish the differences between them. It also helps viewers feel a stronger connection to the characters. For a short time, they each set out on their own with different objectives, but come together to realize they are all fighting for the same cause.
Rebuilding The Planet Thra
Just as important as the development of the main characters of the series is the rebuilding of the world that Jim Henson originally envisioned. Also released at the same time as the TV series was The Crystal Calls The Making The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance (2019).
In the making, many film crew members mention being fans of the original film. Some individuals were also part of the process in the making of The Dark Crystal (1982) film. For example, the fantasy illustrator, Brian Froud. The documentary emphasizes the importance of being able to bring to life the planet Thra that has existed for thirty years.
During the early brainstorming stages, there was a 2016 test for a CGI Gelfling with puppet Skeksis. After careful review, this idea was scratched. No matter how good the CGI was, it looked too much like two different mediums on screen. The main critique was that the CGI Gelfling didn’t look enough like a true Gelfling from the Dark Crystal universe.
It was eventually decided that the series would be made with all puppets. However, the CGI team, Double Negatie, made a suggestion to help further enhance the series. They took a clip from the original film and augmented Kira’s face just slightly to help breathe more life into her character. This helped maintain the same charm of the puppets. The updated technology also allows viewers to have a more immersive viewing experience.
The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance Calls
The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance pays attention to what made the original film a cult classic. The show takes time to bring the audience into the world of Thra by exploring the different clan lives of each of the characters. Even though the series follows many characters, the narrative never feels overcrowded. Additionally, the subtle use of CGI also helps to update the world of Thra from nearly thirty years ago. I consider the series to be nearly perfect. My one critique is that the Gelfling romance had little time invested in it.
The Dark Crystal (1982), The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance and The Crystal Calls The Making The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance (2019) can be streamed on Netflix. For fans interested in extra Dark Crystal content, you can read a review of the comic sequel, Beneath The Dark Crystal Vol. 1.