The long-anticipated follow-up to Jim Henson’s classic 1982 feature film “The Dark Crystal” is no longer just a glimmer of hope in the hearts of fandom: A new, serialized prequel (no, not a sequel; more on that below) is coming to small screens everywhere via Netflix on August 30.
The new trailer is hitting all the right notes, ain’t it? There’s real fealty to the weird-fantasy wonder of the original feature film — including a new crew of dewy-eyed Gelflings, the ever-scabrous Skeksis, and the exotic, richly imagined mystical ecosystem they inhabit.
Yearn to return
Ambitiously gorgeous, unprecedented in its sophisticated use live-action puppetry, the original Dark Crystal was pure science-fiction exotica.
With organic but otherworldly conceptual designs by the great Brian Froud (whose artistic visions of fairyland and fey folk have always been more akin to a Roger Dean prog-rock album cover than to Tinkerbell in a tutu) and a gaga plotline that could have been lifted from a PG-rated issue of Heavy Metal magazine, the movie captured the imagination of a generation of fans, and was a high-water mark for Henson’s mastery of the medium.
Although Henson went on to create a different, equally unusual fantasy world in the beloved Jennifer Connelly/David Bowie vehicle “Labyrinth,” a true live-action successor to “The Dark Crystal” has remained elusive.
For years, rumors of a sequel have bounced around the Internet, and attempts at launching a new, full-scale feature film kicked back and forth between California and Australia from 2006 to 2010, but ultimately came to naught. Novels and comic books followed, building out the storyverse — yet no puppets, muppets, bunraku beasties or marionettes ever took to a sound stage.
Enter Netflix, which has successfully produced 10 hourlong episodes for the August launch. The prequel follows the evolution of the Skeksis threat after the shattering of the crystal, and features the considerable vocal talents Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Izzard, and others.