Despite being a summer film, Jim Henson's underrated 1986 film, "Labyrinth" ties together the enchantment of David Bowie, his goblins, and of course, the fun, adventurous side of Jennifer Connelly to encourage you to watch this film in October!
The protagonist, Sarah Williams (portrayed by Jennifer Connelly), needs to save her little stepbrother, Toby (portrayed by Toby Froud), after accidentally wishing him away to the Goblin King, Jareth (portrayed by David Bowie). In order to do so, she has to solve Jareth's labyrinth in 13 hours. In the labyrinth, Sarah befriends a kind dwarf, Hoggle (portrayed by Brian Henson), an adorable, friendly, rock controlling creature named Ludo (portrayed by Ron Mueck), and a brave fox squirrel, Didymus (portrayed by David Goelz) to help her along the way.
The aesthetics of the film are breathtaking! Before the movie starts, dark and upbeat instrumental music plays, along with a beautiful animation of a white barn owl flying through the bolded and stunning opening credits. The opening credits continue and introduce the song of David Bowie which is called, "Underground." After, the white barn owl stands in position and stares at the heroine, Sarah, who is dressed in a princess-like outfit and recites her lines from her favorite red book. Then, she has to quickly go back home because it's late. This creates a mysterious start to the distinction between fantasy and reality which has captured my attention.
Moreover, even though the goblins are actually puppets, they seem so real. Most of them are walking on their own, and you cannot even imagine them as puppets. They are scary looking! Not only the goblins, the characters, Hoggle, Ludo and Didymus and the creatures of the labyrinth-like the Blue Worm, appear to be so real and I am very impressed in the artwork, interaction, and movement put into the puppets to make them alive! Furthermore, the labyrinth is very marvelous to look at and it's very shiny. You will be astounded at the moment when you see the enormous size of the labyrinth surrounding Jareth's castle under the amber sky. At the same time, when you look inside the tricky labyrinth, you will be even more amazed that it's so clean! That explains why Jareth the Goblin King has a goblin gadget called "The Cleaners." The whole aesthetics have reminded me of a similar feeling of fantasy from another fantasy film I have watched, "The Wizard of Oz."
I also grow to admire the heroine, Sarah. She is very friendly, pretty, and very relatable. It is also fun to see her solve things in the labyrinth and really amusing when she encounters the creatures of the labyrinth. After watching the film, I think Jennifer Connelly has performed well as Sarah. Even her character outfit is very unique and her appearance looks better than Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz."
Most importantly, the one aspect that really grabs the most attention from the film has to be David Bowie's performance as Jareth the Goblin King. His acting and devilishly good looks make this character one of the most attractive villains in cinema. His clothing and big wig create a unique fantasy like feeling towards the character that you do not really get from movies nowadays. It reminds me somewhat like the bishounen or the pretty boy look from Japanese anime and manga. What's more interesting about his character is that he can shapeshift.
Remember that beautiful white owl at the beginning of the film? That was Jareth. I believe that the white owl love started here, not from "Harry Potter. According to some rumors, J. K. Rowling was inspired by this film when naming the school of "Harry Potter," "Hogwarts." The word "Hogwarts" comes from the scene where Jareth and Sarah call Hoggle by the wrong name. In addition, David Bowie's songs for this film are very taunting at first but then they become really soothing and charming to hear as you listen to them. The settings will even haunt you such as the Escher Room that can make you bewildered and overwhelmed with the bunch of stairs, putting you in very awkward, and terrifying positions on the steps especially they look very high. Overall, the magic of this fantasy really comes to life!
One last note to say about this film is my favorite part of the film which is the ballroom scene. This is the scene when Sarah has eaten a peach that has entranced her into a hallucination. A hallucination that consists of her wearing a beautiful white ball gown, and attending a strikingly small, crowded and beautiful ballroom. Everyone around her wears monstrous masks and indulging themselves in laughter and entertainment. Then as she paves her way through the crowd, she catches sight of a handsome Goblin King who stands by and tries very hard to allure Sarah to dance with him. After they have danced, the clock has stroked 12'o clock, leaving the confused Sarah to gaze upon an evil smirk on the Goblin King's face and realizing the Goblin King's intentions brings Sarah to throw a chair that shatters this dreamlike hallucination which demonstrates the seductive and frightening aspect to this film. All I can say for this scene is that this ballroom scene is the best ballroom scene that I ever watched in cinema and it's my favorite.
Also, from then on, I love the genre of fantasy because of this film. In short, Jim Henson has created for us this remarkable dark fairytale-like film that everyone should definitely watch especially in October.