Recently Netflix released a series as a prequel to the cult classic The Dark Crystal and a load of my most favourite geeky friends who like all the same stuff I do went wild. I have a big gap in my film knowledge from the 80’s and early 90’s because I didn’t grow up in a particularly film focused household so I had never seen it. I decided this was a good opportunity to remedy it.
Gelfling, Jen has grown up with the Mystics after his family was killed by the vulture-like Skeksis. When his master dies he reveals a prophecy that Jen must fulfil, to retrieve a shard that will repair the shattered crystal that ripped their world apart a thousand years ago.
Every second of The Dark Crystal screams Jim Henson. It’s full of weird creepy puppets with crazy screechy voices and strange locations. There’s an epic journey, dream sequences, synth music and enough cackling to laugh a lifetime. AND I AM LIVING FOR IT.
The puppets are immense. This movie is seventeen years old and the puppets look better than almost all the CGI out there. It is so immersive that you can’t help but admire it even if weird fantasy isn’t your jam. (It is mine).
What I absolutely loved is that although Jen is the main character he is totally useless. He is basically wondering around in the woods until he meets fellow gelfling, Kira. Kira has grown up with the party-loving Podlings and is a complete bad ass. She talks to animals, knows her way around the forest, knows all the legends, can fly and kicks ass. Without Kira Jen wouldn’t have a clue.
The Skekis are magnificently revolting and creepy but they are nothing compared to Aughra, who is the epitome of every batshit crazy old lady who just wants to be left alone. Her exasperation at Jen arriving at her home to annoy her and ultimately cause wreckage is epic.
Under the fantasy romp there are some interesting themes at play about the duality of humanity, slavery and environmental conservation, which elevates the material beyond the standard “hero on a journey”.
I am not sure how a non-80’s kid would respond to this because it is so incredibly 80’s but I would love to know. I’d like to think they’d be captivated. I loved it and and I can’t wait to get stuck into the series.