Review by C.J. Bunce
Watching the incredible award-winning Netflix series Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, the seamless visuals and storytelling can’t prepare viewers for the amount of detailed craftsmanship required to create the series (which was our pick for Best TV Series, Best New Limited TV Series, Best TV Fantasy, Best Writing for TV, Best TV Costumes/Makeup, and Best TV Soundtrack in our year-end wrap-up last year here at borg). It was far more involved than any other live-action project, CGI production, or animated series, and that feat is what Daniel Wallace’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance–Inside the Epic Return to Thra is all about.
Like in Industrial Light & Magic Presents: Making Solo: A Star Wars Story (a diary of sorts of the making of that film reviewed here), creating this level of rich behind the scenes account for such a complex production benefits from being assembled during the development and execution of the series. This is a complete story that begins where Caseen Gaines’ compelling The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History (reviewed here) ends, taking readers from 1982 into the development of Thra’s expanded universe of books, comics, and online resources, all waiting to be combined together to inspire and become the Netflix series.
But the biggest thing not found on the screen–the thing that glues together the book and process behind the series–is the imagination, influence, and contributions of Brian Froud. Readers will find hardly a page of this volume without a key concept design personally envisioned, painted, or sketched by Froud, the visionary behind the look of the original The Dark Crystal film.
And that explains why the series feels so faithful to Henson’s original film.
The book is organized as a chronological story, connecting several non-starts and passed-upon opportunities such as the idea of a sequel film, which led to pulling in director Louis Leterrier, creating a writers room and pooling ideas from all aspects of creators who had been thinking about the story of Thra in the intervening years since 1982. Inside the Epic Return to Thra introduces readers to key puppeteers, puppet designers, costume and prop development, a legion of artisans and human performers behind the camera and hidden in front of the camera inside, under, and behind the fantastical characters viewers meet on the small screen. It also features a foreword from executive producer Lisa Henson.
Here are some images from the book, originally previewed last year here at borg:
Recommended reading for fans of Jim Henson, his puppets, the world he created and Netflix’s groundbreaking series. Order The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance–Inside the Epic Return to Thra, now available in a full color hardcover here at Amazon.