It wasn’t until fairly recently that I watched the original Dark Crystal movie and fell a bit in love with it. It made me both excited and apprehensive for the Netflix prequel series. Would it stay true to the original in all its mad, puppet glory? Would the story be as touching and engaging? Would it be as immersive? The film is so special so the series had a very big shoes to fill.
It’s been a thousand trine since the Skekis arrived on the planet Thra and gave its protector, Mother Aughra (Donna Kimball) a device that allowed her to travel the universe while she slept. During this time the Skekis have set up a regime that divides the different Gelfling clans into completely separate factions and installed themselves up as divine rulers. They take their power from the Crystal that is the cornerstone of Thra and which has made them all but immortal. The Crystal is starting to lose its power though, which means the Skeksis will need to find a new way to restore themselves. At the same time a strange blight is spreading across Thra, driving its animal inhabitants crazy and destroying its crops.
Now three young Gelfling from different clans will have to go on an epic journey to unite the clans, expose the Skeksis and save Thra before its too late.
As with the film The Dark Crystal is a really powerful metaphor for modern society. The Skeksis sit at the top of society pitting the “less fortunate” against each other to stop them from realising they are being exploited. They use up natural resources with no concern for anything other than their own selfish needs and enslave the most vulnerable inhabitants of Thra. They’re basically the 1%.
Aside from the social allegory the world building is immense. Every Gelfling clan is unique in its own way, not just in look or dress but also in personality. I loved that they are a matriarchal society with very strong female characters and that two of the three travellers are female. I loved nature-loving, Deet (voiced by Nathalie Emmanuel), studious but rebellious Brea (voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy) and brave, tough, Rian (voiced by Taron Egerton). The chemistry between the three is lovely and they’re probably the best trio since Harry, Hermione and Ron.
Further to this every other race on Thra is unique from the Podlings to the Gruenaks and the Arathim, each is defined by their movements, attitudes and ways of speaking. The absolutely adore the fun-loving Podlings and if I were any character in this series it would probably be Deet’s Podling companion, Hup.
The Skeksis are so well done. They are utterly repulsive to look at but their behaviour is even more repulsive. They are brutal, ruthless, scheming and completely self-serving. They believe themselves to be completely superior to all other races and that they are entitled to do whatever it takes to get ahead. What is most telling is that they’re not even loyal to each other.
Aughra and Thra are like one character meshed together and provide the heart of the whole series. I love that the film stayed completely true to Aughra’s grumpy, weird old lady vibe and she is honestly pure goals.
I can’t compliment the voice work in this series enough. The actors who provide the voices of the Skekis are almost unrecognisable despite including names like Jason Isaacs, Simon Pegg and Mark Hamill and they’re complete powerhouses.
This is a beautiful, faithful homage to the original and I could probably talk about it for days. It is high fantasy and it swept me away. It is a very intense watch so it took me a few weeks to get through it. It’s not the kind of series you can binge in a weekend because there is a lot going on that you need to digest and consider.
I don’t think anything could have made it better… except maybe more Hup!