Film 16: Labyrinth

Dir: Jim Henson
Production: 1986, UK
Cast: David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud

"Dance magic dance. Jump magic jump. Put that baby's put a spell on me" 

It’s so bad, how could I not post a short review. This film was screened as part of Bowiefest, at London’s ICA – celebrating 40 years of David Bowie’s work in film.

In brief: 15-year-old Sarah is left home alone by her parents and she has to babysit her little half-brother Toby. However, Sarah accidentally wishes Toby away to the Goblin King Jareth (David Bowie), who brings him to his castle in the middle of a Labyrinth. The Labyrinth is a fantasy world filled with goblins, ghouls and wrong turns at every step. Sarah has to rescue Toby before midnight (within 13 hours), or the baby will became a goblin. Like all good fantasy stories, the ending has a very predictable ending. 

I originally saw this film as a kid, so it was interesting to revisit this now in my more mature years. Lets just say, it’s not how I remember it, but somehow also a cult classic. 

The acting is terrible. Sarah seems to have one permanent facial expression through the film. As for Bowie, well it’s about THAT codpiece and not much else. There is a lot of energy to the film, mainly channelled through THAT codpiece but it didn’t put a spell on me. The songs are beyond cheesy and the surrounding soundtrack is a mix of classic late 80’s electro.

On a positive note the puppetry is excellent, that only of a Henson production team could achieve. Goblins and ghouls vary in size and character, adding the much needed dynamics to the film. I did get the feeling that the production team had more fun making the film, than the audience watching it! 

By the end of the film, the conversation turned to whether this film was intended for children or adults? There is some serious sexual undertones between Sarah and Jareth during the ballroom scene. Or is it just trying to please everyone – maybe trying too hard, you can be the judge. 

Trailer: "The excitement of David Bowie"

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