Saturday, October 7, 2017

But I Digress... Crystallized Nostalgia

By Cat

The Dark Crystal (1982) is one of my earliest movie memories. It was both terrifying and awe-inspiring; and I credit it as one of the heavy influences of my life-long love of the fantasy genre, things darkly beautiful, and even odd fuzzy creatures. Needless to say, the original movie is very near and dear to my heart – and highly placed in my list of top favorite movies of all time. 

I don’t claim to be a ‘superfan,’ however. I haven’t scooped up every bit of memorabilia or even kept up with the sequel published in graphic novel format, etc. My knowledge of the story ends with the closing credits crawling along the screen following the 1982 classic. That being said, I have been both vastly relieved that Hollywood’s reboot bug hadn’t claimed this property thus far; and also highly curious as to what something of that nature might look like, given today’s technology. 

Following The Jim Henson Company’s announcements that began back in May, I seem to be getting my cake and eating it, too. Not only is Henson revisiting The Dark Crystal property with a prequel series for Netflix, they’re promising to stay true to the heart of the original tale by relying heavily on practical effects while taking modern movie magic to elevate it rather than entirely attempt to recreate the original lightning in a bottle. 

The new series is titled The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and is slated for an initial 10 episode run as a Netflix Original. There is no current release date at this time, though the company’s press release indicated that they would begin filming ‘this fall.’ 

Skeksis surrounding the Dark Crystal. (c) The Jim Henson Company
Fans of the original shouldn’t worry about this series tinkering with the existing cannon lore or aesthetics, however. The May 18th, 2017 press release announcing this new venture was clear that this story will be taking place decades before the events of the 1982 movie. As Henson is working with the original concept designers, the Froud family, the goal is to remain thematically consistent.

“[Director] Louis Leterrier is passionate about the world of The Dark Crystal and has an incredible creative vision for the series. He brings this passion to every facet of the production as he leads the talented team of artists and writers that are bringing this entire universe to life... Netflix has a deep respect for my father's original work and the many people it inspired. They are the perfect partners to create this next epic chapter in The Dark Crystal story for new fans and the loyal fans who have waited so long for more adventures from this world." -Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company.

May and September of 2017 were very busy in the world of Henson. Not only did they release the news of the upcoming series on the 18th of May, but also announced pairing with McFarlane Toys to release action figures for several of their classic properties, including The Dark Crystal

The very next day, Henson released the news that they’d entered into licensing agreements with BOOM! Studios for a 5-year publishing deal for new graphic novels for at least 4 classic brands, including The Dark Crystal. It’s unclear at this time what the story content of the new publications will be, but things are certainly heating up around the land of Thra. 

(C) 2017 The Jim Henson Company, you can find the book on amazon here.

But wait, there’s more! September brought the unveiling of a new book for fans of the original, partially in celebration of the movie’s 35th anniversary. The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History includes much behind the scenes information from the beloved movie, and should be quite the treat. That’s not what I’m most excited about from September’s news, however. 

September 2nd, 2017, Henson announced a contest centered on the new Netflix series. Everyone is invited to create and submit their own creature for the Dark Crystal universe, and the winner will get a small monetary prize as well as a chance for their creation to be brought to life by Jim Henson's Creature Shop and a potential cameo in the new series. The deadline for the contest is November 22, 2017 so fire up your creative juices if you’re interested.

Click here for contest details. Image (c) Jim Henson Company

I’m really excited about all of this news; though, I am likely the most excited about the new series. I can’t wait to see what they bring to the screen and a chance to revisit the both horrifying and enchanting land of Thra as the rebellion against the Skeksis begins. 

Here’s what we know so far about the new Netflix production:

Production Companies: The Jim Henson Company, Netflix
Executive Producers: Lisa Henson, Louis Leterrier, Jeffrey Addiss, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Blanca Lista, Will Matthews, Halle Stanford
Director: Louis Leterrier
Writers: Jeffrey Addiss, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Will Matthews
Special Effects: Brian Froud, Jim Henson's Creature Shop
IMDb blurb: "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance" returns to the world of Thra, where three Gelfling discover the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis' power and set out to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's our celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

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