What a curious film you are, Labyrinth. A home video cult classic with dark and dreamy imagery, puppets, and David Bowie. Sure, I’ll bite.
A girl has to rescue her baby brother from the evil Goblin King before time runs out.
I don’t have as strong of nostalgia for this movie like some others, mostly because of when I saw it. It was my sophomore year in high school and a group of us were coming back from an art college visit somewhere in Ohio. It was also the first time I saw Beetlejuice and The Neverending Story. Everyone on the bus was excited to watch it. I only remembered some of the film, notably the Escher room. I bought myself a copy several years later as one of those movies I watch once a year so as to not wear out the charm this film has.
The set design is incredible to look at. From the Shaft of Hands to the Escher room (entirely functional, no CGI here), there’s a lot to take in. Sometimes you can see the backdrop but it’s not too big of a distraction.
The acting, at least for the humans, is OK at best. Jareth does what he does but the reason why he needs this child to be his heir is not understood; I’m not sure if it’s even mentioned. Sarah does have a character arc (life is not all fantasy and at some point she has to put aside her childish ways and behave like an adult) and it is apparent; the ending ignores the arc’s intent and puts the character almost at Square One. If it were up to me, I’d drop the party scene at the very end but keep the reflections in the mirror. I’m not sure where to go from there but it’s a change I’d make.
The puppets themselves are what you would come to expect from Jim Henson: imaginative, varied, and fantastical. I did not expect anything less. From rod puppets (Sir Didymus) to full-body suits (Ludo), you cannot deny that there is variety among the world of the Goblin King. It helps make the world a lot more believable.
I cannot readily recall the music, supposedly one of the high points of the film. It may be that my first viewing in the back of a loud bus played a part in this difficulty. Each time I watch it, I think I remember the words but I’m proven wrong once someone starts singing. All I do know are some snippets but nothing more.
I’m not a die-hard fan of the film but I like the film enough to ration my viewings. It’s best to watch right before bed; that is if you want Jareth in your dreams.