In 1982 Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets, made The Dark Crystal, the first full length feature film to star animatronic puppet creatures rather than actors.
The film became a cult hit, and Brian Froud’s characters inspired a generation of fantasy writers and designers. Louis Leterrier, director of The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans, was gripped by the dark world of Thra as a child, and alongside Jim’s daughter Lisa, developed ideas for a prequel.
This became The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a ten part fantasy series produced by Netflix, which was released last Friday. It tells the story of three Gelflings, Rian, Brea and Deet, who inspire rebellion against their Skeksis overlords. The show boasts a stellar voice cast, including Helena Bonham-Carter, Eddie Izzard and Mark Hamill, and Sigourney Weaver narrates the series. The international co-production uses creatures created by the Jim Henson Company in Los Angeles, and was filmed at Langley Studios, Berkshire. Leterrier gathered a large cast of puppeteers from across Europe and America, led by Kevin Clash. Emanuel’s Head of Performance, James Arnott, was one of the puppeteers, filming during February and Easter 2018.
We worked long days in the studios, with some fantastic, if rather heavy animatronic characters. Leterrier is an exacting director, immersing himself in the character’s world, built some 5-foot or so off the floor to provide space for the performers below. It was a privilege to work alongside such a talented group of performers and creatives.
– Mr Arnott
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and the making of the documentary, The Crystal Calls, are available to view on Netflix.