Last year was the first time I had the opportunity to visit the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. At the time they were featuring a Labyrinth exhibit. I spent about three hours reliving my childhood as I snapped photos of the Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street, the Muppets and other amazing puppets who have made an impact on pop culture. Now, a year later, I was back to experience the Dark Crystal World of Myth and Magic exhibit as Netflix gears up for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance which is slated to premiere this year.
The Dark Crystal and How it Inspired Me
The Dark Crystal has become a cult classic but it has always been near and dear to my heart as it was among several fantasy films which inspired my obsession with fairy tales, folklore, magic, and myth. If you grew up in the 80’s it was hard not to be exposed to fantastic and otherworldly influences. Before the internet, smartphones and social media, we had no choice but to use our imaginations to entertain ourselves. And films like this opened up a world of possibilities.
As a kid growing up in upstate New York in a hundred-year-old home, I had this amazing attic where I would imagine myself in another realm. I would draw magical maps and create secret hiding spots. My dolls and toys were all gifted with magic and I was a warrior princess. When I looked out of the triangle shaped window into our giant yard, the glittering fireflies made it all seem that much more real.
My attic world was inspired by films like The Hobbit, The Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story, The Last Unicorn, Star Wars, E.T., The Labyrinth, Clash of the Titans, Legend, Sherah, Masters of the Universe, The Princess Bride, Willow, The Secret of NIMH, and Erik the Viking. It was a world of galaxies, magical creatures, and mythical places. And it was fantastical.
The Dark Crystal has been an inspiration to many for its mystical and magical lore. Creating projects like The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and the slew of new Star Wars films keeps that magic alive. Just like the Center for Puppetry Arts is keeping the magic alive with The Dark Crystal World of Myth and Magic exhibit.
The Dark Crystal World of Myth and Magic Exhibit at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta
As I walked into the exhibit l found myself in a fully immersive experience of sights and sounds. Surrounded by the fantastic creatures and characters of the original film created by Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and designed by Brian & Wendy Froud. Immediately I was swept away into the world of Thra.
On display were over 50 pieces of original artwork, prototypes, actual puppets used in the film such as Jen, UrAc the Sribe, and Trystan the Freeling, as well as film clips, and posters, each with its own background story. There were even displays completely dedicated to the building process of the characters. Not only was I super sucked into this exhibit and its artistry, but I was totally geeking out at the opportunity to see these characters from my childhood up close and personal. I found myself staring at every detail, going back in my mind and reliving the magical moments of this film over and over again.
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The Cult Classic Returns with a Prequel, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
Announced in 2017 by Netflix and the Jim Henson Company, the show will feature 10 episodes of pure fantasy as it follows the story of three Gelflings as they try to save Thra from the wicked Skeksis. Featuring puppets from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop with the designs of Brian and Wendy Froud and the technology of today’s’ movie magic, this series is anticipated to be a fantasy film highlight of pop culture. I certainly can’t wait for it to hit Netflix. Brain and Wendy have been working on this for some time. I had a chance to interview them last year for FAE Magazine and learned quite a bit about their journey and what they love about pop culture.
Pop culture is constantly changing and developing. We do feel that the pace of most aspects of it is incredibly fast now. People are hardly given time to think about how they react emotionally or intellectually to what they are experiencing. The technique developments are amazing and we both feel that a combination of the new and old, digital and “real”, puppetry and CGI, is the most rewarding way forward.”
If you’re in Atlanta, and even if you’re not, this is an exhibit worth traveling for. For more information on visiting the Center for Puppetry Arts to see The Dark Crystal World of Myth and Magic exhibit check out their site https://www.puppet.org/buy-tickets/2018-19/jim-hensons-the-dark-crystal-world-of-myth-magic/
Have you seen the Netflix: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance teaser?