So, when you think of things from your childhood, what do you remember most? For me, one of the things that sticks clearly in my mind would be the work of Jim Henson. This man is the definition of imaginative. I believe him to be one of the more modern equivalents to Walt Disney or L.Frank Baum. Unfortunately, Jim died during the beginning of the 90's, and too early might I add. But, with his final film, he left a legacy of a brilliant and lively imagination that no one can top... And with that I bring you the subject of today's review....
Labyrinth, starring David Bowie and a very young Jennifer Connelly.
Now, why out of all the 80's fantasy movies did I chose this film? Well, this definitely is one of the more girly features that came out of the genre at the time. It stars a strong female lead, lots of fantastic images, and of course includes one of my favorite people, David Bowie. Most of you have either heard of or seen this film before, so I won't go into a length review of the plot.
The story surrounds around the character known as Sarah (Connelly), a teenager with an interest in fairy tale stories, especially that of the Goblin King. When her fantasy life is interrupted by her parent's request of babysitting her little brother Toby, Sarah goes into a fit of rage. She hates wasting her time taking care of a screaming child, and asks without thinking "I wish the goblins would come and take you away. Right now." Suddenly, her request is fulfilled, when Toby vanishes without a trace. In his place stands Jareth, The Goblin King himself (Bowie). He tells Sarah that in order to get Toby back, She must travel through the Labyrinth in front of Jareth's castle and rescue him from there. But, if she does not make it in time, Toby will be turned into a goblin and become Jareth's property forever. From then on, the movie becomes the story of Sarah's journey to rescue Toby, and the things that happen in between.
Now on to what stands out about this movie. Overall, it's hard to find any negative qualities about Labyrinth. Henson captures the simple yet dramatic world that children imagine when they think of fantasies inside themselves. Similar to that of The Wizard of Oz, this film has it's reality counterparts that help Sarah turn from a young girl to a women in only a matter of moments. Visually, this movie can not be compared. It's beige color palette, touched with few bits of pastels is very memorable. This movie has definitely influenced the colors of future fantasy tales (film or book form) for years to come.
I think though there are only three things that really have me coming back to this movie, for the many years I've watched it over and over again. For starts, Sarah and Jareth's relationship is definitely complex. What begins as the usual protagonist vs. antagonist, which then buds into an innocent romance, ends as a form of unrequited love (though on whose end? you'll have to find out for yourself). Second comes the costumes. They can be as simple as a blouse with a pair of jeans, to an absolutely drop dead gorgeous ball gown, they are simply unforgettable. Last but not least though, David Bowie. He is perfect in this rule. It's embodies the dangerous rock star side of him, but with a taste of elegance. I personally think he is a very talented and underrated actor, which here he really shines. The songs in this movie are also amazing, especially As The World Falls Down (my personal favorite.)
But for the petticoat loving people out there, why would Labyrinth be a movie to check out? I personally think it's one of the most visually beautiful movies to ever be made. The costumes, locations and overall feel are very lolita and girly appropriate, without it being a chick flick and losing it's intelligence in it's story telling. Also, once you've seen the Ballroom sequence, try and tell me how you wouldn't want a lolita replica of Sarah's dress? Finally, it's great to see a fantasy movie carried by a really intelligent young female lead. She may have her faults, but they are ones that can be looked over with ease.
So with that, Labyrinth gets four headbows out of five. Except for a bit of a lengthy running time, this movie is almost perfect. A great last treat from the amazing Jim Henson.
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