The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance - Inside the Epic Return to Thra
Delving into the incredible creative process behind the series, this deluxe volume reveals how Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, legendary character and costume designer Brian Froud, and director Louis Leterrier brought Thra and its characters to life alongside the artists and puppeteers who are continuing the legacy of the original film.
Filled with exclusive interviews with the creative forces behind the show, plus concept art, set photography, puppet designs, and more, this is the definitive exploration of The Jim Henson Company’s epic return to Thra.
Netflix returned fans to the world of Thra earlier this year with The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, but this week Insight Editions’ new book reveals how it all came together. Whether you’re a fan of the show, or simply like seeing how big budget shows come together, this is a must have. Come inside for my full review.
Over the Summer, fantasy fans were treated to an all new The Dark Crystal adventure thanks to a prequel series, Age of Resistance. It’d been a series long in the making and made waves by sticking to the puppetry of the original film in order to tell its story, rather than fully move into the realm of CGI.
Frankly speaking, I absolutely loved it and the primary reason I didn’t do more of a write-up for it on the site when it was released on Netflix was because I couldn’t figure out how to do a review without simply saying, “this is amazing!” over and over again. Suffice it to say, I was very impressed with my return to Thra and was eager to dive fully back into all things The Dark Crystal.
Thankfully, Insight Editions has me (and other fans) covered with this new behind the scenes book. At first glance it may seem nothing more than a typical coffee table art book. While there’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s plenty of gorgeous art contained within, this book goes far deeper than the images on a page. Instead it serves as a Making of book, while also delving deeper into the characters and lore from an “in-universe” perspective.
The book kicks off with a great foreword by Lisa Henson, who discusses the importance of the original Dark Crystal film was to her father. She details the labor of love and how the work done on that older film has managed to influence all things puppets/muppets in film, and the Jim Henson company, ever since. It’s a touching tribute that leads into the larger text of the book, written by Daniel Wallace.
It starts from the very beginning, and offers a surprisingly candid look at how creators have struggled to bring The Dark Crystal back to the mainstream in some form. I loved the fact that it dove into the original plans for the film sequel (once supposed to be helmed by Genndy Tartakovsky), including concept art that hasn’t been seen before. We also learn more about how Age of Resistance started life as an animated series spin-off before evolving into the show we got.
It goes way deeper into the behind the scenes aspect than I expected, and it’s candor in discussing the problems involved was refreshing. We get to see images from the initial test video that they used to convince Netflix to pick up the series and learn more about their process overall. There’s a LOT of information doled out in this book for those who love seeing how films/shows of this nature come to life.
Beyond the making of elements, however, the book also dives into the lore of the series itself and how it influenced the direction of the show. Much of this is accompanied by stunning artwork that range from concept art, design sketches, and even more detailed looks at art/objects set within the universe. For example, there’s a nice spread on the artwork and notes contained within Princess Brea’s notebook that was fun to dive into. We only get to see glimpses of it in the series, so it was a treat to see it laid out in full. I’m not too proud to say I went over them all a couple times to see if I could glean any Dark Crystal secrets.
Beyond the wealth of information provided, the book features plenty of art to drool over. The large paper size gives it all plenty of room to spread out and is presented in high quality. If you wanted to use it as a simple coffee table book, it’ll work well. You can pick it up, flip to pretty much any page, and find something awesome to look at.
To me, however, it’s real value came by reading it from the start and all the way through. The information is laid out in a manner that makes sense. It’s divided up into sections that flow into one another well if you’re reading it straight through, but is also easy to track down information if you’re looking for something specific. All of these elements work together to deliver an impressive companion book, not only to the new series, but to Dark Crystal on the whole.
Between the information contained inside, the great looking artwork, and well planned layout, it manages to be far more than a coffee table book, and something you’ll be eager to come back to. Simply reading the first few sections had me eager to go back to the show to see all the things I’d initially missed.
While it may seem a little pricey at $50, it’s more than worth the price and offers something for everyone to enjoy. Don’t miss out on this one.