I GREW up loving Jim Henson. He was my favorite director and created some of my most favorite properties – including The Dark Crystal. So, ever since I heard that Netflix was in production on a prequel series to the 1982 film, I’ve been waiting very (im)patiently for it’s arrival.
Worth. Every. Second.
Simply put The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is one of the most stunning pieces of television I have ever seen. From the moment I pressed play, until the moment Netflix said I could watch a trailer for the fifth season of Fuller House because I had binged all 10 episodes, I was captivated.
Set several years before the events of the film, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is the story of three very different Gelflings from three very different tribes who discover the horrifying truth behind the power of the Skeksis. Rian (Taron Egerton) a castle guard from the Stonewood Clan, Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel), an animal career from the underground Grottan clan, and Brea (Anya Taylor-Joy) an inquisitive princess from the Vapra clan who’s mother Mayrin (Helena Bingham Carter) is the All-Maudra (queen) of the Gelfling. The only hope they have to save their family, friends, and entire world from the Skeksis is to unite the seven clans of Gelfling.
The cast boast some of Hollywood’s most incredible talent, like Sigourney Weaver, and Mark Hamill (just to name a few) and also includes Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, who only appears in a single episode, as a minor character who plays a very important part in the story.
Brian Froud has returned to design the characters and costumes who are one again crafted by the Jim Henson creature shop. Beautifully directed by Louis Leterrier, cinematographer Erik Alexander Wilson and production designer Gavin Bocquet all have a part to play in creating the immersive world of the Dark Crystal. Working seamlessly to ensure the viewer is not constantly reminded that there is an entire team of talented individuals who are working together to ensure every interaction between every character appears effortless. Immersed within it’s splendor, it was easy to get lost. I knew the puppets would be fantastic, I knew the scenery would be beautiful, and I knew the story would be fantastic. I was prepared for all of that. What I wasn’t prepared for how emotionally engaging it would be or how easily I could fall in love with a world inhabited by puppets.
It’s difficult to put into words just how wonderful this series is. It has to be witnessed. But, that being said, it’s not something I would share with small children. It is dark, there’s violence, and there are moments of where it’s very very creepy. Even still.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is exactly what an epic fantasy should be… Extraordinary.
An equally important and beautiful facet of the Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is the music.
As a writer I often turn to soundtracks for inspiration. Whenever I’m stuck on a story point or trying to flesh out an idea, I shuffle to a soundtrack, close my eyes, and allow my mind to wonder. Lost within the music, my imagination is free to allow the stories unfold themselves. When I heard the score to The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, I knew it would be my new go to do inspiration. It’s nothing short of aw-inspiring.
Composed by Daniel Pemberton and Samuel Sim, the music of the Netflix original series is enchanting and a perfect fit for the epic fantasy. Incorporating themes from the original film, the composers have created something truly magical. The soundtrack to the series, released in two volumes, are a wonderland of sound Jim Henson would’ve truly adored.
Volume one, which exclusively composed by Pemberton features 22 tracks from the first five episodes of the series. “I wanted the music to be as magical as Thra itself – organic, imperfect, strange, mystical, otherworldly and wonderful,” Pemberton reveals. “I wanted to create new sounds that felt like they came from the world itself, as well as using thematic large scale orchestral elements to bring an emotion to the journey of the characters. I wanted music and sounds that would fill you with wonder, but also terrify you. It was very important to me that all the sounds felt like they could only be from Thra itself – no grand pianos or overtly electronic elements. Every sound had to feel organic and visceral, from the dark detuned glissando cello sounds made for the Skeksis, to the upbeat flutes from the Podling’s bar. We created noises out of wine glasses, metal chains, wooden drums, metal sculptures on a snow covered mountain and old creaky medieval instruments to try and make a sonic world as unique as the visual one.”
With 26 tracks, volume two includes compositions by bother Pemberton and sims from the second five episodes of the series. The songs are perfectly marriages, both composers work very well together, playing off of each other in a way that allows the music to flow seamlessly with one another. “The Dark Crystal is set in a unique world of magic, adventure, threat and danger. The music had to capture that majestic wonder, as well as its dark, sinister underbelly,” Sim describes. “Although nearly all the sounds in the score come from an acoustic or ‘real’ source, a huge amount of time was spent twisting, morphing and detuning them to create something completely new and surprising. For example, there are places in the score where flutes and clarinets were pitched down 5 octaves to sound like tubas and bass trombones. Nickel harps and cellos were put through guitar amps and at one point we even took the sound of chirping crickets and slowed it down so much that it created weird otherworldly pads and drones. It was important to us that the music should be both bold and epic but also unique, strange and mysterious to become the beating heart of the land of ‘Thra’ itself.”
The sounds are energetic, fun, and whimsical. As far as scores go, the soundtracks to The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance are definitely ones you don’t want to miss. Imaginative and intricate they will call the imagination and allow the listener to step into Thra and enjoy this elaborate world in all it’s symphonic glory.
Released through Music.Film records the two volume soundtrack will be available on August 30th, the same day the series is available for streaming. Both volumes of the soundtrack will be released on vinyl and cd later in the year.