Rachel Reviews: Labyrinth

Rachel Reviews: Labyrinth

Rachel Bell, Messenger Reporter

WARNING: While the author has taken painstaking efforts to leave this review spoiler-free, the definition of a “spoiler” is subjective, and everyone has different thoughts and opinions on this. Please read at your own risk.

Everyone has that villain that defined their childhood for them. It could be Darth Vader, the Wicked Witch of the West, or maybe a Disney villain. One bad guy that is never talked about enough is Jareth, the Goblin King, in the 1986 musical film Labyrinth. This movie was directed by Muppets creator Jim Henson, executive-produced by George Lucas of Star Wars fame, with music written and performed by David Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of all time. With these three in charge, this film is unstoppable. This month marks the one-year anniversary of Bowie’s death, so this review is dedicated to him.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is frustrated with her father and stepmother for expecting her to babysit her baby brother Toby. In anger, she tells Toby that she wishes the Goblin King would take him away. She leaves the room and comes back to find her brother gone, with the Goblin King (David Bowie) in his place. The King explains that in order to get her brother back, she must solve his Labyrinth within thirteen hours, or he will stay with the goblins forever. She sets out and gains the help of many creatures, including a stubborn dwarf named Hoggle, a gentle beast named Ludo, a chivalrous fox terrier called Sir Didymus, and his faithful dog Ambrosius.

The best part of the film, as well as the most famous, is David Bowie’s portrayal of Jareth. He has no motivation (which some may see as a flaw). He’s just evil, but still likeable. He’s not a far-off villain like most; he’ll often pop out of the blue, talk to Sarah and her friends, and up the stakes. This was Jennifer Connelly’s breakout role, and she did remarkably well with the difficult task of working exclusively with puppets, as did Bowie. While some context would be nice (Where did the goblins come from? Why was Sarah so obsessed with them in the first place?), the story is very well-written. Many writers try to write their teenage protagonists s the every-man (or woman), but Sarah has a distinct personality.

There’s no question that the puppetry is amazing. Outside of Sarah and Jareth, all the principal characters come from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. The dance scene with the Firies is the best in the way of puppetry, but scenery-wise, the ballroom scene takes the cake. There are so many different creatures that Sarah meets in the Labyrinth, each one more interesting than the last. Also, the computer animated owl in the opening credits marks the first time in cinema history that CGI was used to generate an animal. Not only is this film a cult classic, but it also broke barriers.

All in all, Labyrinth is an underrated film that truly deserves more attention than it gets. Its biggest flaws are the unanswered questions and lack of context, but the visuals and acting make up for that. It’s a piece of true genius that has and will continue to stand the test of time. Labyrinth is rated PG.