In 1986, Jim Henson directed his last movie, a fantasy film entitled Labyrinth. At release, it was a failure, and left Henson heartbroken, never to direct another movie again. However, 30 years later, it’s become a widely popular cult film — and for good reason too. I stand by the personal belief that Labyrinth is one of the best movies ever made. While that may not be the standard opinion of most, here are 11 reasons that Labyrinth deserves all the love and attention it gets.
1. Sarah is all of us.
Sarah gets a bad wrap, which from first glance is understandable, but when you realize she’s an angst-ridden teen obsessed with a fictional character… it suddenly becomes very personal. Especially when many of us are obsessed with the same fictional character.
2. Nothing makes any sense. At all.
Why is Jareth so determined on keeping a baby and turning him into a goblin? What do the goblins do anyway? What power does he really have as king? Where did half of these obstacles come from and what point did they serve? Is there really no other human besides Jareth living there? Can Jareth even be considered a human? How’d he get to power, anyway? Was it actually a dream or not? If it wasn’t, does that mean Sarah’s favorite book is actually a real alternate universe? Were they in an alternate universe? Does this explain the famous Mandela theory? Will someone explain the Chilly Down scene?!
One would think that the fact that there is little rhyme or reason to the movie would make it un-enjoyable. Quite the opposite. It’s quite the conversation starter, at least.
3. Terry Jones wrote the screenplay.
I’d assume most people have heard of Monty Python (or at least their 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which remains quite popular), but for any newcomers, they were a comedy group made up of five British men and one American that remained active between 1969 and 1983. One of these men is none other than Terry Jones, who was very much responsible for the rather absurdist nature of the movie (an element that is perfectly understandable after becoming acquainted with the surreal world of Monty Python). Recently Jones received a Lifetime Achievement award from BAFTA, a very well deserved award indeed.
4. David Bowie was in it.
Need I say anything more?
5. George Lucas produced it.
Meaning the mind who brought you Star Wars produced a movie by the mind who brought you The Muppets and Sesame Street whom collaborated with the mind who help set Monty Python in motion to cast and utilize the mind who brought the world such gems like The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Aladdin Sane, Station to Station, and the oh-so overlooked Berlin Trilogy. That alone makes it an inherently mind-blowing movie.
6. The puppets are actually amazing.
A lot of sweat and tears went into making the dozens of puppets featured in the movie. Hoggle was one of the most complicated puppets ever made under Henson’s name. It required an actress to stand inside of it and a remote control to operate his facial movements. Outside of that, is it possible to not be impressed by the brilliance behind Ludo? Is it possible not to admire how many puppeteers had to cram together and operate puppets in Jareth’s palace, or how each puppet was intricately crafted by hand? The set and character designs are really quite a demonstration of craftsmanship.
7. It featured one of the first usages of CGI in a movie.
In the opening credits appears a CGI owl. Although cheesy by today’s standards, it’s considered the first realistic CGI animal to appear in any movie ever. Plus that transition into being a real owl was pretty sweet.
8. The M.C. Escher scene
Does this scene really have any purpose to be the way it is? Not particularly, unless you really want to make the argument that it fits with the labyrinth theme, or that it was the only way to weasel in Bowie’s songwriting talents into the film, just like any other musical non-sequitur during the course of the movie. Then again, all musical numbers, in general, could be argued to be unnecessary. But one thing’s for sure: this is definitely one of the most visually interesting scenes in Labyrinth, maybe even in film in general, depending on the person (I'm the person).
9. Two words: Magic Dance.
Quickest way to find friends: yell, “You remind me of the babe!” Whoever responds, “What babe?” can be trusted. One of the most iconic scenes in movie history.
10. The soundtrack, in general, is pretty great to jam to whenever.
Pro tip: play Underground whenever running between classes and you'll instantly feel like Sarah Williams.
11. And finally last, but certainly not least, is David Bowie’s, er… costume choices.
The source of speculation (among other things) for 30 years and going.