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Get lost in the ‘Labyrinth’

In
Jareth the Goblin King hides Toby away in this M.C. Escher inspired room that defies reality.
Jareth the Goblin King hides Toby away in this M.C. Escher inspired room that defies reality.

Jim Henson’s final film continues his legacy “Labyrinth” is an imaginative film that shows a twisted path through the road to adulthood and responsibility. Part of the fun is becoming lost in the incredible world Jim Henson created.

The film is cult classic royalty. David Bowie acted and wrote the musical’s songs and Henson features his amazing puppets.

“Labyrinth” was Henson’s last film; he died soon after. The film was mostly panned by critics when released, some of whom reevaluated their positions after its wide acceptance as a cult gem.

Sarah, a dreamy young woman played by Jennifer Connelly, spends her time reading fairytales, wishing she would never have to babysit her little brother, Toby. Her wish is magically fulfilled by Jareth, the Goblin King (played by Bowie), who kidnaps her younger brother. Sarah realizes her error and tries to get Toby back from Jareth’s clutches.

To find Toby, she embarks on a dangerous and life-changing quest. Jareth lives in a castle surrounded by a giant labyrinth. Sarah has only 13 hours to find her way through the dangerous maze. She encounters many strange creatures inhabiting the labyrinth.

Eventually she is aided by the grumpy, but sweet dwarf named Hoggle, sent by Jareth to mislead her. Hoggle quickly warms up to Sarah instead. The two are joined by Ludo, a furry and gentle giant and the obnoxiously honorable knight, Sir Didymus, a fox who rides a sheepdog.

They finally conquer the labyrinth after passing through argumentative door knockers, the bog of eternal stench and oubliettes. Jareth constantly appears to dissuade Sarah from her quest. He tries to convince her to follow his will and be his.

Jareth begs, “I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.”

The puppets are entertaining and imaginative. Henson impresses with the personality infused into the puppets. They express emotion as effectively as the human characters.

“Labyrinth” is typically considered a children’s movie, but is slightly more indepth.

It is a disturbing fairy tale for adults.

The theme’s depth and dark plot may be confusing for children, but adults can recognize the real scope of Henson’s creation.

Henson said he wished to “make the idea of taking responsibility for one’s life – which is one of the neat realizations a teenager experiences – a central thought of the film.”

“Labyrinth” illustrates Sarah’s coming of age. She recognizes she must put away the fairy tales and realize reality is much darker and less perfect.

Jareth reflects Sarah’s budding sexuality as well as the dark morality of the adult world.

They constantly attract and repel one another.

Sarah, however, recognizes she wants to be more than a fairytale princess. She doesn’t want to be an object of desire or a possession.

A young Connelly does a remarkable job of depicting a girl on the verge of adulthood.

Bowie is a rockstar idol with epic hair, an amazing voice and tight spandex pants.

He plays Jareth perfectly. He has incredible charisma and perfectly expresses a dangerous mix of hatred and desire.

The film features incredible visuals. A creepy but visually pleasing scene is when Jareth gives Sarah an enchanted peach, trying to make her forget her quest. She is transported into a dream where she and Jareth are dancing together in a masquerade dance. She enjoys it until she looks around and feels suffocated by the faces peering at her and Jareth’s claustrophobic presence. The chilling music box of the song “As the World Falls Down” adds to the innocence and fear.

She is forced to break the crystal ball, which trapped her from escaping the dream.

The final scene of Sarah in the magical world is one of the most incredible sets in any film. The castle is based on M.C. Escher illusory paintings that seem to defy gravity, perspective and reality. Jareth is playing with and juggling crystal balls, rolling them around his arms and hands while using them to enchant people. These tricks are not a special effect, but are actually done by the choreographer of the film, Michael Moschen.

The songs are catchy and discordant, providing the pace and tone. The lyrics are clever and witty, varying from the playful “Magic Dance” to the obsessive, brooding “Within You.”

“Labyrinth” is a fairy tale with a stripped veneer to show malevolence and real danger.

Sarah is given the fairytale life she wishes for, and realizes the stories are not quite as fun as reality. “Labyrinth” is a one-of-a-kind film experience and Henson’s masterpiece.

ladams@unews.com

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