Saturday, June 6, 2009

Retro Review: Labyrinth, the movie

Give me the child. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the goblin city, to take back the child you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great...

Girls and boys, hands up who believes that David Bowie in Labyrinth was responsible for their sexual awakening? I see many hands! And hands up all those who thought Toby would have been so-oo better off as a goblin and Sarah as Goblin Queen? And hands up who thinks Sarah is a whiny bi-atch and needs a good slap? And who *shudder* saw that final scene in Requiem for a Dream and screamed "Sarah, Sarah, what have you done???!!"

I first saw Labyrinth as a seven-year-old while studying Greek myth at school. I think the teacher thought it might be a PG way to introduce us to the minotaur myth (as it doesn't have all the, you know, rape) but really, the similarities between the two stories are tentative to say the least. And may I just say there's very little that's PG about Jareth's leggings ...

When I was in high-school Channel Two re-ran Labyrinth and my friends and I fell in love all over again. There was a great deal of quoting in the playground that week! "Sarah frieeeeend" "It's not fair" "Get through the Labyrinth? She'll never get through the Labyrinth!" "Fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave". Oh, swoon.

Labyrinth is one of those magnificent productions: it's just weird enough, just scary enough, just beautiful and erotic enough. Despite Bowie's big 80s hair and Sarah's leg-of-lamb sleeves (above), it's sort of timeless, too. And utterly, utterly romantic.

It's also one of the oddest love stories I know. I'm not even sure it is a love story. Despite all the "romance" it's more a coming-of-age tale. Sarah lives in a child's world of toys and imagination and irresponsibility, of which Jareth is the personification. There's more than a few Alice in Wonderland references--the drugs, the manipulation of space and time, the odd creatures that follow their own bizarre logic. In fact, I'm not at all sure it isn't a modern retelling of the classic, with Jareth as the Queen of Hearts and the Cheshire cat rolled into one. With some snappy, snappy dance moves!

I did hear recently that there was supposed to be a kiss between Jareth and Sarah (in the ballroom scene, I'm guessing, just before the poisoned peach starts making her spin out--best scene hands-downs. That dress. That serenade) but they cut it out because Jennifer Connolly was too young. Too bad for her!

How you've turned my world you precious thing
You starve and near exhaust me
Everything I've done I've done for you
I move the stars for no-one
You've run so long you've run so far
Your eyes can be so cruel
Just as I can be so cruel
Oh I do believe in you
Yes I do
Live without the sunlight
Love without your heartbeat
I, I can't live within you


  1. aaah this is STILL one of my favourite movies - I first saw it when I was seven years old too! I'm 25 now...would you believe that when my friends and I go out dancing on a Saturday night, we put Labyrinth on in the loungeroom while we're getting ready and dance, magic, dance around the room with our wine...never fails to get us revved up for a night out!! Bowie had to be one of my first crushes, him and monkey magic. I so wanted to be the Goblin Queen, and couldn't understand by Sarah didnt just forget about the baby!

  2. Did anyone else not realise until recently that the whole 'You remind me of the babe' exchange is taken from The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer? My head exploded.

  3. The what and the what what now?? I didn't know this at all!