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You remind me of the babe, big hair, peaches, and goblins.

Written by on May 4, 2021

When you hear the name Jim Henson, you undoubtedly think of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and all the other muppets. You probably don’t think about high fantasy, goblins, monsters, or David Bowie. However, that is exactly what you will get with the 1986 classic Labyrinth. 

Labyrinth, written by Dennis Lee and Jim Henson, screenplay by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame, follows the adventures of Sarah (Jennifer Connely), a teenage girl who lives in her own fantasy world, and like a typical teenager, has an attitude, resents her stepmother, and hates her baby brother Toby. During one of little Toby’s crying fits, Sarah calls upon the goblin king to take him away. However, things take a bit of a turn when Sarah discovers that the goblin king, Jareth (David Bowie), is very real and does exactly as she asked. 

When Sarah pleads with Jareth to return young Toby because she didn’t mean what she said, he tells her that he is in the goblin castle beyond the labyrinth. Sarah then has until the clock strikes 13 to get to the castle before Toby gets turned into one of the goblins forever. So starts Sarah’s perilous quest to save her baby brother, which culminates in a showdown with Jareth in an MC Escher inspired location.

Along the way, Sarah will encounter all manner of memorable characters such as Hoggle, the worm, Ludo, Sir Didimus, and even the Fireys. All of them play some part in helping or hindering Sarah as she goes on her quest.

Now at this point, you might be wondering where Jim Henson fits into all of this. It is easy to forget that apart from the muppets, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop has been responsible for some of the most memorable puppets and animatronics of all times, including characters like Yoda, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the original 1990 versions), and even the puppets from Neverending Story. 

The Creature Shop joined forces with artist Brian Froud to create the iconic goblins and characters from Labyrinth. This is no small feat when you only see 5 human actors throughout the film, and one of them is a baby. From golems to door knockers, goblins, eye lichen, helping hands, and more, the world of Labyrinth is populated by amazing and memorable creatures. 

David Bowie delivers an outstanding performance as Jareth, and in true Bowie fashion, he also wrote all the songs for the film, including the infamously strange ‘Chilly Down’ song sung by the equally odd Fireys.

While Sarah is somewhat unlikeable at the start of the film (well, in my opinion anyway), the journey she takes during the film, the situations and characters she encounters, all help to become a far more likeable character as she learns various lessons about friendship, growing up, and even loving her little brother. 

At its heart Labyrinth is about growing up, learning to let go of childish things and ‘live in the real world’ so to speak. However, the film takes it one step further, acknowledging the importance of fantasy in our lives and finding that balance between what’s real and what’s not. 

Labyrinth is a stunning film that still stands the test of time and features David Bowie at his most David Bowie-est. Great fun for the whole family, this is a film that will not soon be forgotten once you have seen it, with scenes like the helping hands staying in your memory for years to come.

-H

You can see a trailer for the film below

Labyrinth trailer

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