As promised, Feather is back with a hopefully unbiased view of the 1986 film Labyrinth, starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. So first, let’s get the basics down, shall we?
27 June 1986
David Bowie (RIP)
David Alan Barclay
What is the film about?
Labyrinth is about a young girl, Sarah (played by Jennifer Connelly) who accidentally wishes her brother away to the goblins and has to undertake a series of tasks in order to win him back. She is pitted against the Goblin King (played by David Bowie – RIP), who will do everything he can to stop her. Along the way she meets a few quirky friends, a grumpy dwarf, a gentle giant and a valorous fox knight. They help her to find her way through the dreaded labyrinth that surround the Goblin Castle, which her brother is being held captive.
The Initial Response
During its release in theatres in 1986, Labyrinth wasn’t welcomed as positively as had been hoped. Despite the fact that Princess Diana and Prince Charles visited the British premier of the film, the reception amongst critics and audiences weren’t as welcomed as initially planned. In short, the box office numbers weren’t great.
Despite the numbers the film didn’t do that great.
However, as time went on, and people finally saw this movie for what it was, many have actually come to love it and in spite of the poor numbers for its initial release, the following has grown from a small spat of people to whole groups. It has gained a cult following and is seen as a great children’s movie (if you can call it that).
Ok, so I do love this movie, despite the bad acting and the plot holes that are gaping wide open, but that will not deter me from giving this film the critical eye, so to speak.
So what do I think of this movie, as a whole? It’s terrible, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t appeal. First off, one thing that sometimes bugs me is the fact that Sarah overacts. Perhaps this was intended, since she is meant to be a stuck-up, drama queen princess, but that doesn’t mean she has to overact her way through the labyrinth. I mean there are some points where she just screams “Oh!” for no reason!
Secondly, there really is no point in superimposing David Bowie’s face seven times in the film! I mean sure you could say it’s the Goblin King watching over her, and perhaps he’s using his face as a means to look through his crystal at her, but that’s just downright creepy! Not to mention there are times when they’re not needed, like when Hoggle is walking away from Sarah, and his face just randomly pops up on a rock. Sarah’s not even there, so why would he be looking at that spot!
The Seven Faces of David Bowie
Thirdly, there are very few films that can boast that their continuity is spot on. After all, editors can look at a reel of film for so long, but this film has several that really has no reason to be there! For example, in one of the earlier scenes, where Sarah is trying to get through the first level of the Labyrinth, she bangs on the wall to vent her frustration. Minutes later, after talking to a blue worm (because worms are blue), she tests the wall in front of her and it turns out to be fake…Where’s the original wall? Did it move? I mean sure you can chalk it up to being a magical labyrinth, but wouldn’t that just be plain unfair? What if she hadn’t spoken to the worm? What would have happened if she just kept going? This doesn’t really make sense.
Finally, my grievance with the film comes to a close with the fact that there are many elements to the film that just doesn’t make sense, like the fact that Sir Didymus (the valorous knight in question) is riding a dog when he himself is a fox. Or the unusual beast that is Ludo (WHAT THE FREAKING HELL IS HE?) and the very first lines that Hoggle says in the film:
Sarah: Excuse me?
Hoggle: Oh! Excuse me! (Turns around and scrutinizes Sarah) Oh, it’s you.
HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? This film doesn’t really pin down who these characters are or what they have in common, except for the fact that they are ‘friendly’ enough to help Sarah as she traverses the Labyrinth.
In all, this film is simply nonsense, but I guess that’s the beauty of it. It is in the nonsense that makes the film so unique, so special and so loved by the people who love it that trying to make sense of it is not something that would ever cross their minds.
Having said that, I truly am a fan of Labyrinth, not just because it’s a children’s ‘horror’ film and because I watched it as a child, but even now, after watching the whole thing like a thousand times, even as an adult, I still have that magical feeling. I feel like, after watching this, Goblin Kings and Fairy Queens are real. It’s a remodelled version of the Alice in Wonderland story, and it is brilliant. Despite its obvious flaws, Labyrinth resonates with its audience, because no one is truly sane. No one doesn’t ever stop believing in magic (not really), and it’s because of films like these that people continue to wish and dream that these fairy-tales will one day come true for them.
So in my opinion, Labyrinth is not only a film that will probably transcend the ages, but it will continue to be one of the most magical films Jim Henson has ever made, and if anyone ever tries to make a remake…or use visual effects in place of true puppetry and animatronics, they will fail miserably. Not only will they have to contend with the expectations of true fans of the original, like me, but they will most assuredly disappoint anyone who thinks that a remake or a sequel can make this film better.
Well, that’s it from me today, I think I’ll go ahead and watch Labyrinth again, and I know without a doubt, it won’t be my last viewing!
Oh and one more thing, if you like this review (because I probably will make more) please send me your suggestions in the comments below! I love watching films and TV shows, and if you’d like me to review one for you, just say so and I’ll get on it as soon as I can. Having said that, stay tuned, I’ll be reviewing Dark Crystal next, since it will be my natural segue!
So what do you think? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll see you all soon!
This is Feather, signing out!