Creating the world of Netflix’s Dark Crystal series

Production designer Gavin Bocquet talks to CR about building on the fantastical world of Jim Henson’s cult feature film for a ten-part Netflix prequel 

Dreamt up by Jim Henson in the midst of a snowstorm, The Dark Crystal is a weird and wonderful work of fiction. Set in Thra – a mythical world with enchanted forests and eerie castles – the film follows a young Gelfling (a human-like creature) on a quest to restore the balance of the universe with a crystal power source that has been corrupted by a vulture-like race known as the Skeksis.

Released in 1982, the film revealed a much darker side to Henson’s imagination. With its grotesque characters, violent scenes and ominous score, it was a far cry from the bright and cheerful world of The Muppets. The film was also pioneering in its use of animatronics and went on to become a cult classic – thanks in no small part to the rich visual aesthetic dreamt up by Henson, Production Designer Harry Lange and Concept Artist Brian Froud.

Almost four decades on, Netflix has released a delightfully retro ten-episode prequel which charts the events leading up to the film. Created by a huge team of puppeteers, set builders, decorators and designers – including several people who worked on the original production – The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance reconstructs the film’s mystical world and adds to it with new settings, characters and plotlines.

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

London, EC3R

SENIOR DESIGNER

Guildford, Surrey