If you still haven’t watched The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, the delightfully magical and fantastically impressive Netflix prequel series from the Jim Henson Company, I’d like for you to remedy that right now. Feel free to come on back once you’ve enjoyed all 10 episodes of the epic story that chronicles the battle for the alien world of Thra. But if you have finished the series–or have watched it over and over again–than Insight Editions’ companion book “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance – Inside the Epic Return to Thra” may just be for you. And it’s available today to kickstart your holiday wishlist purchases!
Set many years before the events of The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson’s classic 1982 movie, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance returns to the world of Thra with an all-new adventure. When three Gelfling discover the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis’ power, they set out on an epic journey to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world. Revealing the incredible creative process behind the new series, “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance – Inside the Epic Return to Thra” is an all-access look at the show’s journey to the screen that details how prolific producer Lisa Henson and visionary director Louis Letterier, along with legendary character and costume designer Brian Froud, and the world-renowned Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, brought Thra and its characters to life with a team of artists and puppeteers who are continuing the legacy of the original film. Filled with exclusive cast and crew interviews, concept art, set photography, puppet designs, and more, this is the definitive exploration of The Jim Henson Company’s epic return to Thra. And our review follows below:
If it’s facts and figures you want, Lisa Henson starts you off early in her heartfelt introduction: The series’ tallies 2,500+ credits for folks behind the scenes, as well as 75+ sets, 170 puppets, 1,000+ hours of dialogue recorded with nearly 60 voice artists, 83 puppeteers, and an international team of over 500 artists. She goes on to talk about both the legacy of her father’s original film and the lasting legacy that this series–and all its untold hours of passion and hard work–will undoubtedly have, but you get a better sense of that work in the pages that follow.
The first section of the book talks about the history of The Dark Crystal from Jim Henson’s original ideas and early concept art, to the execution of the film itself. Then, in the many years that followed, the book tracks the evolution of the franchise into other media, ultimately leading to a sequel film idea and an animated prequel series. Neither came to pass (just yet), but a puppet-driven prequel series got new life instead thanks to an unexpected request from Netflix. And so, the live-action Age of Resistance series was born.
The next part goes on to sum up the story of that series and how its scripts, test footage, and blending of computer-generated imagery and live-action puppets came to be. It’s also chock full of concept art, behind-the-scenes shots from the many sets, script pages, and more, as is every chapter in this incredibly rich and dense look into the making of Thra.
Another chapter focuses on the Froud family and their multi-generational effort to keep the world of Thra alive and well … and weird. Original sketches and concept art reveal some creatures that you likely saw on screen and some that just as likely never came to pass. And moving on from the 2D hand-drawn pages to the actual sculpting, production, painting, and costuming of the many characters in the series is the focus of yet another picture-packed chapter. It’s a perfect tome to tackle after watching the series (again) and the behind-the-scenes documentary (again) because you can really get a sense of the craftsmanship on display here.
If it’s lore you want, this book has a ton of it. It goes through each of the Gelfling clans to reveal their history, their fashion, their livelihoods, and the parts they’ll play in the great resistance. Of course, the named hero characters get many more pages as we go behind the scenes with Rian, Brea, Deet, and more. The book is wise to keep the Skeksis separate from the Gelfling though; not only do they not get along, their character creation looks and feels like it comes from a different world … in part because it does. (The Skeksis character breakdowns might be even more rewarding than the Gelfling ones, but your mileage may vary.) And don’t worry, non-Gelfling/Skeksis characters like Mother Aughra, Hup the Podling Paladin, and Lore get their fair share, too.
But that’s only half the story! A full chapter is dedicated to Thra itself, both the variety of lands that make it up and the fusions of plants and animals that stride across it. The 75+ sets are shown off in a series of dazzling still images here, and readers get a chance to see how they came together piece by piece. And yes, the dark crystal itself is further explored and explained, complete with super-nerdy schematics as to how the Skeksis crystal-chamber actually works. The book then comes to a close by focusing on the impressive direction from Louis Letterier and a look at how the 10-episode series was actually shot. In a rare bit of transparency, the production diary also talks about setbacks (and pushbacks) they experienced while filming and the ultimate end of Age of Resistance.
Except I hope it’s not the end. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is an incredible work of art and achievement in filmmaking; this book helps to hammer that point home. At nearly 200 pages, it gives the best insight yet into the behind-the-scenes insanity that went into pulling off Age of Resistance. And yet we still want more. Anyone who’s enjoyed the prequel series since its premiere in August knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that there’s more story to share. It just remains to be seen if we’ll be blessed with another chapter. In the meantime, pick up “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance – Inside the Epic Return to Thra” to keep the fires burning.
About the Author:
Daniel Wallace is the author or coauthor of more than two dozen books, including The Joker, The Jedi Path, Man of Steel: Inside the Legendary World of Superman, DC Comics Year by Year, The Marvel Encyclopedia, and the New York Times best-selling Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters.
About the Illustrator:
For more than 30 years, Brian Froud’s significant accomplishments have defined a genre and spanned every aspect of modern media. Froud has sold over eight million books worldwide, designed two award-winning, landmark feature films (The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth), and won numerous international awards, including the Hugo Award for Best Original Artwork. His work has been featured in exhibitions throughout the world, and his paintings reside in many private and public collections. Froud lives in Devon, England, with his wife, internationally acclaimed doll maker Wendy Froud.