This week it was announced that Netflix would be reviving Jim Henson’s 1982 fantasy classic The Dark Crystal, as a 10-part prequel TV series titled The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance. In preparation for this exciting event, we’ve put together a beginners guide to the original movie, for those of you who are new to the franchise.
1So, what’s it all about?
The Dark Crystal is a 1982 fantasy film about a Gelfling – an elf-like creature – named Jen, who is charged with the task of seeking out the missing shard of a magical crystal, which once restored can bring peace to his home world. But the task wont be simple. There’s a race of alien creatures called the Skeksis that are using the Crystal as a sort-of fountain of youth, and they’re none too pleased with the idea of Jen taking that away from them.
2What’s a Skeksis?
The Skeksis are a part reptile, part avian race that rule over the planet Thra (where the film takes place) with an iron fist. According to their designer Brian Froud, the Skeksis are supposed to personify the seven deadly sins of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. Although The Dark Crystal was always intended to be a family film, the inclusion of the Skeksis made it one of the most terrifying things to come out of the 1980’s – alongside Zelda from Terrahawks.
3And the Skeksis are the bad guys?
Yup. Just look at them! How many heroes look like that?
The Skeksis were created when the Dark Crystal split open and the parts scattered across the planet Thra. The energy from the splintered Crystal was powerful enough to create two new races – the Mystics and the Skeksis, the later being the malevolent, tyrannical overlords who control all life on Thra, and exist only to bring misery and darkness to the world.
4Jen’s a pretty hot chick though. Y’know, for an elf.
Erm … Jen’s a dude.
5The characters would look right at home in Labyrinth!
It’s funny you should mention that. Brian Froud, the man behind the creature designs in The Dark Crystal, was also the concept artist for Labryrinth, Jim Henson’s other fantasy movie from the ’80s.
6Wait, this madness is from the same guy who brought us The Muppet Show?
Correct. Jim Henson came up with the idea for The Dark Crystal while he was snowed in at JFK Airport with his daughter Cheryl, in February 1978. It was shot back-to-back with The Great Muppet Caper.
7How did the film do at the box office?
The Dark Crystal opened at the same time as E.T The Extra-Terrestrial, which hurt it quite a bit. The film only made $40 million during it’s initial run at the cinema, against a budget of $15 million dollars.
Early screenings were also met with negative reviews. Audiences hated that many of the creatures spoke in their own made-up languages. As a result, Jim Henson had the crew re-shoot much of the dialogue in English to make it easier for audiences to follow.
8So, The Dark Crystal was a flop?
No. Although it barely made 3 times its budget, The Dark Crystal earned cult status and is considered one of The Muppet Workshop’s greatest achievements. It was also the highest grossing film of 1983 in France and Japan, while ranking number 16 in North America.
Along with DVD’s/Blu Rays etc., The Dark Crystal has also been adapted into comics, board games, novels, Manga, clothing and perfume. Oh, and don’t forget the upcoming TV prequel.
9Why has it taken 35 years to make a TV series?
Talk of a sequel began during production of the original movie, however never came to pass. It took 25 years for The Dark Crystal writer David Odell to piece together his original conversations with Henson into a script that became The Power of the Dark Crystal.
Genndy Tartakovsky (Hotel Transylvania) was hired to direct, and plans put in place to make the movie in 3D. This was short lived however, as Tartakovsky left the project, and development drew to a halt, before being put on a permanent hiatus in 2012.
Talk of a sequel continued regardless, until this week Netflix made the surprising announcement that they would be working to create a brand new, 10-part TV series that would be set before the events of the movie.
10What do we know about the TV series?
Not very much is known about The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance at this stage. What we do know is that it reunites several of the original crew, and shooting is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2017.
If rumors are to be believed, the plot will see yet more Gelflings trying to overthrow the Skeksis Empire, in a plot similar to that of Star Wars. Louis Leterrier, who directed The Incredible Hulk, will direct.
One thing is for sure though, the franchise is in very safe hands with Netflix, and as soon as there are any updates, you will find them right here on Horror Geek Life.
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