30 Day Film Challenge: Day Six

Posted on April 14, 2011

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Labyrinth, 1986

A Film That Reminds You of Somewhere:

David Bowie calls it his “Spinal Tap” moment; kids who remember watching it in 1987 were terrified that their addled mother or father would find a Bog of Eternal Stench to toss them into; third level students watching it when they’re supposed to be finishing assignments wonder if the Coke bottle down the front of David Bowie’s tights was uncomfortable.

Labyrinth comes from he-of-Muppet-fame Jim Henson’s puppetry repertoire and call me biased but I’ll always think it’s bloody brilliant.

Yes it’s as mad as a bag of snakes. Yes, Jennifer Connolly’s do-good angelic attitude might grind on you a bit but Bowie steals the show anyway regardless of what anyone else does.

The story is simple enough to follow and if you look at it carefully, you can see that everything that happens throughout the film has been mapped out in a real nice opening shot in Sarah’s (Jennifer Connolly) bedroom. There is a shot of a beast in a blue jacket (almost the same as that worn by Bowie in the ‘As The World Falls Down’ number), a number of teddies and toys that are the same shape as those she encounters in the Labyrinth.

The story is all superimposed right there from the start. Of course, if you take that theory and roll with it, it means that a teenager is still imagining her friends and is possibly on her way to really mucking up her perception of reality. But hey, all kids films gloss over these darker tones.

Anyway, back to the plot. Sarah is a solitary teenager, whose favourite book is the story of a magical labyrinth which she acts out with her dog in the park. When her parents decide to head out on the razz she is left to baby sit her little brother Toby who, as babies do, will not stop crying.

Getting frustrated, Sarah decides to tell him the story of the Goblin King and accidentally wishes her little brother away to the castle of the Goblin King Jareth (Bowie, in all his contact-juggling glory. Or someone else’s contact juggling glory!) who appears to tell silly Sarah that the only way she can have her brother back is if she gets through the labyrinth in thirteen hours.

The film, as I mentioned above, reminds me of my house in second year of college when myself and my flatmate took to watching this film at least once a week and tappa-tappa-tapping our foot along to the music, some of which is utterly cheesy, more of which is highly questionable as an art form and all of which is incredibly and undeniably 80s.

I have to say though, the ballroom scene with the As The World Falls Down number is pretty magical.

And let’s face it, Spinal Tap moment or not, can we help it if David Bowie is the coolest man in the world?

A cracker.