In this movie, you’ll see David Bowie in very tight pants,
An oddly adorable orangutan thing,
And…whatever’s going on here.
The 1986 cult film Labyrinth is great, and I’m going to tell you why you should think it’s great.
First, a little background. In the wake of his nightmare-inducing film The Dark Crystal, director Jim Henson set out to make something a little more accessible and a little less distressing. He managed to get Terry Jones of Monty Python fame on board to co-write the script, so you already know that this is gonna be good. Labyrinth stars a 14-year-old Jennifer Connelly (Requiem for a Dream) as average plucky schoolgirl Sarah, and David Bowie as a sexy vulture – I mean, as Jareth the Goblin King.
Labyrinth would not be what it is without the glittery perfection that is Bowie. I’m sure you are not in the least bit surprised by that.
Not gonna lie, Connelly is kind of a shitty actor. David Bowie is a perfect actor and anyone who argues otherwise will get punched in the nose. The two share a super creepy sexual tension – but how could that have been avoided? IT’S DAVID BOWIE.
But seriously, stop it guys. So, you may ask: Other than David Bowie, what the heck is this movie about? I was just getting to that, my dear impatient reader.
Sarah is your average American teen with a plucky spirit and can-do attitude. She is also a total whiner. One night she is forced to babysit her baby brother Toby. She has a complete meltdown over how nothing is fair and her life is the worst thing ever, and wishes for the Goblin King Jareth to take Toby away and free her from a life of indentured servitude. But wishes never come true, right? There’s no such thing as the Goblin King.
WRONG. Here comes David Bowie, in one of the most fabulous and sparkly entrances in cinematic history.
Wow. Those are very tight pants.
Being the good dude that he is, Jareth informs Sarah that he has taken Toby to his crazy magical Labyrinth. But Sarah is an ungrateful jerk, and demands that he return her brother immediately. They strike a deal – if Sarah can make it to the castle in the centre of the Labyrinth in thirteen hours, she’ll get her brother back. And so, the epic adventure commences.
In the Labyrinth, Sarah meets Hoggle, a distressingly wrinkly dwarf, Ludo, the aforementioned orangutan-creature, and Sir Didymus, a well-dressed knight who is also a fox. Muskrat? I don’t know what he is.
On their journey the eclectic band experiences betrayal, epic battle, and impromptu musical numbers. Along the way, they learn the true meaning of friendship. Isn’t that nice. Sarah also learns that sometimes shit just isn’t fair and she’s just going to have to get over that.
Labyrinth also provides us with this exchange, which has since been reenacted at every one of my family gatherings.
At one point Sarah is hypnotized and hallucinates attending a lavish masque ball, where Jareth attempts to seduce her. She’s fourteen, dude. Stop. But Labyrinth is, ultimately, a movie about the difficult transition from adolescense to adulthood (through attraction toward David Bowie). I think that’s a theme we can all get behind.
In one of the coolest scenes of the movie, Sarah gets to the castle and finds herself in an M.C. Escher-esque room of stairs. She chases Toby all over the place while Jareth sings about how hot she is and flips over stuff.
They meet for a final confrontation, where Jareth offers to be Sarah’s sex slave – but she decides that she is a strong independent woman who don’t need no man and is freed from the Labyrinth along with her brother. At least, that’s how I remember it.
Then Sarah and her friends from the Labyrinth have a totally rad party in her room and everyone lives happily ever after. Jareth is sad he didn’t get laid.
Labyrinth is ridiculously fun and frequently rather clever – but for the love of god, don’t take it too seriously. Watch it, guys. You probably won’t regret it.