Be careful what you wish for…
Written By: Michaela Clement-Haynes
Date: 16th May, 2015
Siblings are annoying and sometimes we just wish they would disappear so that we could be an only child. But what if they were stolen by the Goblin King?
Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), who loves fairy tales, wishes for her baby brother Toby to be taken away by the goblins. However, when her brother is stolen, she suddenly realises that she didn’t mean it and vows to claim him back from Goblin King Jareth (David Bowie).
To get to the castle, she must journey through the labyrinth, which is full of illusions and changes constantly as she goes, full of mysterious creatures and dangers, including the Bog of the Eternal Stench, the Junk Lady and a masque ball. On her journey, Sarah befriends some of the goblins, who are forced to choose between what is right and their loyalty to the Goblin King who threatens them at every turn. But is their friendship just another illusion of the labyrinth?
A fairy tale with a difference, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth is more light-hearted than The Dark Crystal despite the cast of puppets that would definitely not be allowed on The Muppet Show. There are also lots of discreet references to The Wizard of Oz and the book itself appears several times.
It also features original songs from David Bowie, including Magic Dance and Underground, plus a magical score by Trevor Jones. This gives the film a sort of rock-like touch that stops it from becoming too dark.
The script leaves a lot to be desired, with few memorable quotes except perhaps some of the lyrics from Magic Dance (“You remind me of the babe.”), but the effects are pretty good, with the exception of Sarah’s ‘leap of faith’ to rescue her brother.
Jim Henson’s creatures are fantastic, a few reminisce of muppet characters, but for the most part unique and very imaginative. Nothing seems out of place and the personality and character traits of each of Sarah’s companions are endearing and entirely believable,
Jennifer Connelly is a pretty adolescent on the cusp of womanhood and she plays the role with a mixture of naivety and pluck. David Bowie relies a little too much on his appearance, with very little in the way of acting – he’s just being David Bowie; he is definitely creepy, although there don’t seem to be any untoward reasons for wanting the baby – everything he’s done has all been for Sarah.
Although the film is borderline ridiculous and very surreal, there’s something about it that makes it work – although it probably wouldn’t rank in many people’s Top 10, even for 80s films – and while the moral is perhaps overlooked slightly, it is there, so just embrace the cheesiness.