When a teenage girl (Jennifer Connelly) discovers her little baby brother has been kidnapped by David Bowie (er . . . by the Goblin King who is played by David Bowie that is), she enters a secret labyrinthine world of mazes, magic and . . . well . . . Muppets.
Masterminded by Muppeteer Jim Henson and Star Wars creator George Lucas, Labyrinth combined live actors, puppetry and special effects in an elaborate fantasy.
While not officially a sequel to Henson’s The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth had the same look and feel, and it stirred up the same kind of religious fan fervour.
The film begins as Sarah babysits her younger brother Toby. A romantic girl who indulges herself in fantasies and daydreams, Sarah dislikes always having to be responsible for her kid brother.
In a moment of annoyance, she wishes the Goblin King would steal him away forever. She is horrified when her terrible wish actually comes true, and she plunges into the labyrinth in order to save poor Toby.
Jareth (the Goblin King) watches Sarah with great interest as she navigates her way through the treacherous, complicated maze.
She is assisted in her quest by many strange characters, including the gruff dwarf Hoggle, the miniature but brave Sir Didymus and the gentle giant Ludo.
Sarah’s adventures in the labyrinth cause her to become a wiser and more compassionate person, as she matures from a self-indulgent child to a young, intelligent woman.
The film provided many memorable moments of stunning images, including a dark tunnel crowded with thousands of white ‘Helping Hands’, the odious Bog of Eternal Stench, Jareth’s staircase kingdom (based on the drawings of M.C. Escher) and of course, the mysterious labyrinth itself.
David Bowie‘s performance as Jareth also made a striking impression. His Goblin King had a truly magnetic presence that made one understand why Sarah would find herself unwillingly attracted to him. The former Ziggy Stardust also wrote and performed five original songs for the film’s soundtrack.
It’s very easy to fall under the spell of a movie like Labyrinth, because it taps into our ideas about dreams and illusions. The film also boasted innovative puppetry creations for the numerous creatures that populated its fantasy world, making it an even more mesmerising and unique movie going experience.
And is it just me, or did I hear Fozzie Bear in there somewhere?
Jareth, The Goblin King
David Alan Barclay