Labyrinth (1986) – Jim Henson 

 

Executive produced by George Lucas, directed by Jim Henson, designs by Brian Froud, songs by David Bowie, and a screenplay by Terry Jones… what’s not to like about Labyrinth, first recommendation following my screening of The Wizard of Oz for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book?

I loved digging into this one again, this is one that I watched over and over when I was younger, and played the soundtrack, a mix of songs by Bowie, and score by Trevor Jones over and over until I wore that tape right down.

David Bowie stars as Jareth the Goblin King, who is summoned by Sarah (the lovely Jennifer Connelly) to take her annoying baby brother away so that she can have some peace and quiet. This single wish rockets Sarah on an amazing journey that is frequently funny, filled with great music, has some spooky moments, has a great story, and wonderful puppet designs…

Hoping to rescue her brother, Sarah must navigate Jareth’s labyrinth within thirteen hours, or little Toby (Toby Froud) will remain with the goblins forever, becoming one himself.

Sarah quickly learns that not everything is as it appears in the labyrinth, and appearances can be as deceiving as imaginary walls as she encounters plastic-loving Hoggle (Shari Weiser with voice by Brian Henson), often miscalled Hogwart, the lovable giant Ludo (Rob Mills and Rob Mueck) and the canine knight, Sir Didymus (David Goelz and David Alan Barclay).

Together this group confronts the Bog of Eternal Stench, legions of goblins, the head tossing Fireys, and traps aplenty on their journey to the goblin castle.

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There is the suggestion that it is all a dream, as every one of the creatures, or things she encounters can spotted in one form or another in her bedroom, along with a bunch of cool books (everything from the Wizard of Oz to Judge Dredd), but that doesn’t make the journey any less enjoying.

It’s a wonderful fairy tale of a movie brought to incredible life with an enjoyable human cast paired with some magical work by the Henson Workshop.

I shared this movie with so many people when I was growing up. I can’t tell you how many kids I introduced to it while I was babysitting…

This is one that when I was in the video store I would start with as a family recommendation… if they hadn’t seen it, I would send a family home with it, and if they had seen it, and liked it then I would be able to follow-up with other recommendations.

There’s something, even now, that is still wonderful about this film. Yes, you can tell where some of the special effects are matted in, yes, you can sometimes see the wires that are controlling a character’s fall, but that does nothing to shatter the suspension of disbelief. Labyrinth remains a magical tale that I love to share, and watch (again and again).

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