You have thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth, before your baby brother becomes one of us… forever.
Labyrinth is one of my friend’s favorite movies. The first time she wanted us to watch it, years and years ago, I was like I don’t think I’m going to like this movie.
Yep, I was 100% wrong as I Loved it!
This movie is a ton of fun and is one of my favorites. I can always watch it.
It is such a great film and stars the amazing David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly.
Did you know Jim Henson originally wanted Sting to play Jareth the Goblin King? He only picked David Bowie because his kids loved him. This makes me think of Nightmare on Elm Street and the decision to cast Johnny Depp. Good thing Henson listened to his kids. I love Sting, but David Bowie was perfect in this role.
David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King is supposed to be the villain of the film, but at the same time he channels the teenage dream/ideal of a man. I don’t know if it is his Bad Boy nature, his awesome mix of leather jacket/fantasy coat, his ‘80’s glam rock hair, or just the David Bowie of it all; but he’s amazing and every scene with him is a treasure. He makes every girls’ heart beat every time he enters the frame.
But I’m not only reviewing this film because it is a favorite and fits for Halloween, but also because it is a:
Yes, this film reminds me a lot of Jane Austen, which I will share why at the end of the review.
So our story begins with teenager Sarah, who is out at the park acting out a scene from her favorite book, The Labyrinth. Unfortunately, she keeps forgetting the last line. only to realize she also forgot how late it is.
Sarah: Give me the child. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great…[thunder rumbles] For my will is as strong as yours, my kingdom as great…D***. [pulls the Labyrinth book out of her pocket] I can never remember that line. [reads] You have no power over me.
She has to run home and take care of her baby brother (half brother) who she dislikes, as her stepmother (who she hates) and father are going out that night. I always thought Sarah’s mother died, but after some googling, it turns out that Sarah’s mother was an actress who left her family for another man. As Sarah doesn’t have her mom present to be angry with, she has directed all that toward her stepmother and little brother.
Sarah is doubly angry as not only did she not get to finish recreating her favorite book, but she has to babysit while her parents are out, and she discovered one of her stuffed animals was taken and put in Toby’s room. Her teen angst has hit an all time high and she erupts, wishing her brother would be taken away by the Goblin King.
The goblins listen and do take him. When Sarah realizes that Toby is gone, she screams out that she wants him back and Jareth, the Goblin King, makes a deal with her. I always thought that Jareth saw something different about herself, a worthy opponent to face off with. She will have 13 hours to solve the labyrinth-if she does she gets the baby, if she fails he becomes a goblin forever.
Sarah begins her journey and believes she can outsmart the labyrinth and the Goblin King, but quickly things are not exactly like the stories she grew up reading. Her plan to leave a mark of the places she traveled fails, she solves the logic puzzle but falls down a hole with grabby hands, encounters fairies who bite, etc. She eventually finds Hoggle, a troll, who agrees to help her in exchange for her bracelet.
But Hoggle is working for Jareth and is supposed to lead her away, so she will lose. However, Sarah not only uses her cunning to get him to help, but Hoggle begins to like her too. This is something Jareth is none too pleased about.
Jareth: Ah, what have we here?
Hoggle: Oh, uh, nothin’.
Jareth: [removing his disguise at the last second] Nothing? Nothing? NOTHING? Nothing, tra la la?
That’s one of my favorite parts of this film. It is just so silly yet fits. Sarah then sasses Jareth and ends up losing time from her quest. Yep, not the best idea but Sarah will not give up. That’s another reason why this film is such a great one to watch. Sarah is your typical teen and she can be dramatic, whimsy, and at times can be whiny (like most teens), but she’s also a dreadful determined woman who will not stop until she accomplishes what she is setting out to do. She feels very real and is someone you can root for. I love this exchange between her and Jareth:
Sarah: That’s not fair!
Jareth: You say that so often, I wonder what your basis for comparison is?
After their encounter, Sarah sees a Wiseman who she exchanges a ring for-but doesn’t get that much wisdom in return. They continue on and Sarah ends up adding to their party when she saves Ludo, a creature that can call rocks. Ludo is so cute and sweet, I definitely would want him on my questing team.
After this she enters the forest, having been separated from Ludo and Hoggle and encounters the creepiest things ever and the true villains of this story: the Fierys. I hate these things as they seriously creeped me out when I first watched it, and I still struggle with watching this scene. Ugh, they need to just go to die with those creatures for Fraggke Rock, they creeped me out too.
But Sarah is able to defeat these monsters and is reunited with Hoggle who saves her. But not for long as Hoggle has met with the Goblin King who wants Hoggle to ensure that Sarah does not defeat him. Hoggle has been given a peach that will put Sarah to sleep and he must do it or else he will be cursed to live in the Bog of Eternal Stench.
After they are reunited they find themselves in the Bog of Eternal Stench, the only way out a bridge protected by a fox like soldier. I love this characters of Sir Didymus and his noble steed the sheepdog named Ambrosius. These characters are absolute fun.
Like in most fairy stories and legends the bridge cannot be crossed, but Sarah outwits him.
Sarah: Okay, let’s handle this thing logically. What exactly have you sworn?
Didymus: I have sworn with my life’s blood, none shall pass this way without *my* permission!
Sarah: Well… May we have your permission?
Didymus: Well I, uh… I… that is, uh… hm… Yes?
They are able to escape the Bog with help from Ludo who can speak to the rocks. From here they enter an enchanted forest and Sarah, as she has been in the Labyrinth for hours, says she is hungry. Hoggle gives her the enchanted peach and instantly regrets it and runs away ashamed at his cowardice.
Sarah wakes up in a dream, a ball with the romantic song As the World Falls Down. She is almost distracted from her quest, but when she hears the clock she proves herself to not be any ordinary girl and escapes by waking up with a Junk lady who returns her home. This quest wasn’t real, just another dream and she has now awakened. Film over.
I know, it’s too easy and too simple. And Sarah knows it, she is truly a worthy opponent for Jareth.
The Junk Lady: What’s the matter, my dear, don’t you like your toys?
Sarah: [comes to her senses] It’s all junk!
The Junk Lady: [picks up a music box] Well, what about this? This is not junk, eh?
Sarah: [smashes music box] Yes, it is! [Sarah’s room crumbles without her notice] I have to save Toby!
Sarah wakes up and goes with Didymus and Ludo to the Goblin City. Hoggle joins them and apologizes and they fight the Goblins and more as they continue to fight.
Sarah has reached where she needs to be, but finds herself in a more challenging test of skills. She has to find Toby who has been hidden from her. This scene is fantastic as I love they way they filmed and set up the scene. Just amazing!
Then we have one of the best scenes when Sarah has to face off against Jareth. First Jareth comes out of the shadows, intense music playing as he does. I love the way the scene is fuzzy at the corners to give it that dreamlike quality! Oh yes, it’s fantastic! The pacing and the dialogue is just great too!
The way Jareth pleads with Sarah tempting her almost convincing her- but props to Sarah, she knows better what makes a healthy relationship than most people-refusing his charm and promises. And the thing I love the most, Sarah not being able remember the lines “you have no power over me” is so powerful. Such few and simple words, but at times can be so hard for people to say and believe. But finally she does, declares it to the Goblin King, and wins the Labyrinth.
Jareth: Sarah, beware. I have been generous up ’til now. I can be cruel.
Sarah: Generous? What have you done that’s generous?
Jareth: *Everything*! Everything that you wanted I have done. You asked that the child be taken. I took him. You cowered before me, I was frightening. I have reordered time. I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for *you*! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations. Isn’t that generous?
Sarah: Through dangers untold. And hardships unnumbered. I have fought my way here to the castle; beyond the goblin city, to take back the child that you have stolen. My will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great…
Jareth: Stop! Look what I’m offering you. Your dreams.
Sarah: My kingdom as great… my kingdom as great… damn, I can never remember that line.
Jareth: I ask for so little. Just fear me. Love me. Do as I ask, and I shall be your slave.
Sarah: You have no power over me! YOU have no power over ME! [the clock chimes 13:00 at that moment. Defeated, Jareth sends Sarah and Toby back to the real world where the clock finishes chiming midnight]
The best scene! A must watch!
She defeats him and goes home. At first going to say goodbye to her fantasies, dreams, and childhood-but deciding to not give it up just yet!
Ludo: [in the mirror] Goodbye, Sarah.
Didymus: And remember, fair maiden, should you need us…
Hoggle: Yes, should you need us, for any reason at all…
Sarah: I need you, Hoggle.
Hoggle: You do?
Sarah: [nods] I don’t know why, but every now and again in my life – for no reason at all – I need you. All of you.
Hoggle: You do? Well… WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO?
[Sarah] spins around and sees them all in her room, including the goblins. She hugs them all, and a huge party begins]
I love this film and I think the more you watch it the more you see, relate to, and love. I also really appreciate that they didn’t end this with a romance but friendship, that’s not something that is not really done all that often.
Another thing I like about this movie is that it is similar to Total Recall, in that the film lets you decide whether this really happened to Sarah or if it is all in her mind. In her room we see the characters that surface later in the film: a stuffed animal that looks like Sir Didymus on her dresser, a doll that looks like Ludo on the shelves next to her door, a Firey doll on a shelves next to her bed, bookends with Goblins reminiscent of Hoggle on her dresser, a figurine of Jareth on the right hand side of her desk, newspaper clippings of Sarah’s famous actress mom with another man (David Bowie), the dress that she wears in the ballroom scene is on the woman in her music box, a wooden maze game which looks like the Labyrinth is on her desk, and a copy of the famous picture by M.C. Escher which is used in the final confrontation with Jareth. So the question is did the Goblin King use these elements in his creations to give Sarah a fair chance, borrowing items similar to her surroundings which is sometimes done in fairy stories, did he choose her because he wanted a worthy opponent, does the Labyrinth change itself to Whomever enters, or is this all a teen angst dream. You decide.
So why do I consider this a Non-Austen Film for Austen Fans? First of all we have the character of Sarah being one who loves to read, and live in a fantasy world; which reminds me of both Marianne Dashwood and Catherine Morland. Both Marianne and Catherine love to read and are dreamers. All three characters are also very sweet, kind, naive, and innocent.
Sarah shares even more similarities with Marianne as both are young in spirit. Sarah still plays with dolls and stuffed animals and Marianne believes she knows all about love and life from the poems she reads.
Both girls have also been betrayed by people they love, Sarah having her mom leave the family and now having a new mother and brother, while Marianne’s father fails to protect his daughters by planning for their future; along with her having a brother that broke his promise to protect and care for her and her sisters.
Both Marianne and Sarah are also extremely emotional and act on their feelings, expecting others to be as honest as them. Sarah never considers that Hoggle could be deceitful or someone she shouldn’t trust, even after he tells her (and Jareth) that he is planning on sending her back to the beginning. Marianne never considers that Mr. Willoughby could not be as earnest in his affections or even that her lack of fortune might be something that could cause a roadblock in their relationship.
Sarah, Marianne, and Catherine all fits
go on a journey that teaches them about themselves and help them grow and mature. For Sarah she learns to love and care for her brother and not to speak out in such haste, Marianne is taught to not always act on her emotions and feelings but use sense as well, and Catherine learns to not always trust everyone and to use caution instead of imagination.
A fantastic film with wonderful imagery, amazing songs, and just a lovely storyline. It’s a film you can’t help but love and watch again and again.
Some friends and I went axe throwing a few weeks ago and dressed up as fantasy characters. I was going to be the Goblin King, but my niece pointed out that I looked like Sarah. So of course I had to dress up as her. I couldn’t find the vest she wears and had to with what I did have. Pretty close right?
And of course the Facebook cover photo!
For more on Labyrinth, go to A Dog’s Life: Chinese New Year
For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to No Haunt Me Then!…I Know That Ghosts Have Wandered On The Earth. Be With Me Always…Drive Me Mad, Only Do Not Leave Me in This Dark Alone…I Cannot Live Without My Life! I Cannot Die Without My Soul.: Wuthering Heights (1939)
For more David Bowie, go to Changes, Turn and Face the Strange