Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a challenge. It’s a prequel set centuries before the events of The Dark Crystal, which means we already know how it ends. Spoilers: Not well. So, how can the audience find hope in a series where we already know our heroes’ fate? According to star Taron Egerton (Rian) and Jim Henson Company CEO Lisa Henson, in a way... you can’t.
“It’s called The Dark Crystal, it’s not The Sound of Music,” Egerton said.
Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal has endured as one of the finest works in modern fantasy because of how well it bridged the gap between childhood wonder and adulthood trauma. The film comes on the heels of a genocide, where the evil Skeksis slaughtered almost all the gelfling in Thra, save for our two heroes. The prequel, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, centres around the seven gelfling clans coming together to oppose the rise of the Skeksis. Unfortunately, we already know they’re going to lose and eventually be wiped out.
During a press conference, io9 asked Henson about how a series can call itself Age of Resistance when we know that eventually the resistance is going to fail. She said she doesn’t think audiences are going to be too focused on that because the story takes place in its own time with its own characters. This makes sense, because it’s so far removed from the timeline of The Dark Crystal that in many ways Age of Resistance is its own experience. Plus, she noted how we shouldn’t ignore a story’s past just because we already know the present, making a comparison to our own history:
What’s gonna happen to us, you know centuries from now? We don’t know. We just kind of have to live our daily lives and win the daily battle. We think this is a really hopeful and inspiring story about heroes who, when faced with a really scary and mysterious threat—which is what the Skeksis are doing to them and threatening their very life essence—you know, they manage to pull together and fight as a team. You kind of don’t expect gelfling—if you know the original film—you don’t expect gelfling to have that kind of gumption. You don’t even know that they have a fight in them, but they do. And we learn that they do in the series.
At that point, Egerton chimed in to note how, even if we already know the gelfling are doomed, that’s okay... because that sort of underlying “melancholy” is a crucial part of what makes The Dark Crystal such a powerful story. It’s a movie that wasn’t afraid to take narrative risks, trusting its younger audience with some complicated topics, like genocide, enslavement, and torture. Egerton is a self-professed fan of The Dark Crystal, who insisted on visiting the set during production to see his character and world brought to life, and discussed his admiration for how the series honoured the spirit of the original movie. Crippling depression and all.
“I think that the original movie, for anyone who’s a fan of it and fell in love with it, I do think melancholy is an intrinsic part of it,” Egerton said. “That’s part of the charm of it and the love of it. And so given the fact that [director Louis Letterier] and Lisa and the whole team have set about making this story very much in the spirit of the original, there is an element of melancholy to it and I think that’s part of its charm.”
“One of the writer’s room mantras was: ‘Well, it’s not The Light Crystal,’” Henson added.