Hear Ye Hear Ye, Princess Pinkie is here with a new Movie and Shows Post!
Greetings my Loyal Guests and Subjects! It may not be a surpise to you that I really dig the strange and unique and seek out these movies , games and anime on regular basis. One weird product in the movie industry had eluded me for the longest time.. but today I finally managed to get that film under my belt. In this movie David Bowie plays the Goblin King, a baby stealing , delusion of a man who creates several musical intermezzos in this oddball of a fantasy movie. Today I shall tell you of that time I watched Labyrinth.
The Wizard of Wonderland…with Puppets
In 1986 Jennifer Connelly starred in her breakout role in the movie Labyrinth, a Jim Henson movie that pits the ,then still a child, star against a pop singer. Which usually isn’t such a great idea. Child actors are known for their hokey acting.. and how poor children are written in movies, and singers…. well… just name a well acted movie starring Justin Timberlake… It is a movie that has the audience and the critics sharply divided on Metacritic , scoring only a 5 out of 10 from critics and an amazing 8.4 out of the audience. So such a bit difference is already weird… What’s weirder is.. I kinda agree.. with both sides. In their own way each is a very fair way to look at the movie. The first thing you need to ask yourself is, do I like Jim Henson’s work?! Jim Henson , should you not know the name is the big name behind the Muppets and Sesame Street, he is the master of puppets and his creatures are recognised all across the world, and while these creatures may not be anywhere near as Iconic as some other Jim Henson products, you can tell this movie is his. Which I find a huge boon!
The plot follows character Sarah who is rehearsing for a play about the Goblin King, however she has fairly recently gotten a stepbrother, her stepmother being over protective over little Toby forces Sarah to take care of this little brother much to her chagrin, she feels like the forgotten child, remembering a rhyme from her play she wishes that Goblins come and take her little half brother away, That they do! Immediately Sarah regrets her actions and tells the Goblins to give her brother back, the Goblin King , Jareth played by David Bowie floats to her window and tells her he can not undo the wish. She has 13 hours to travel trough an amazing fantasy land that is one giant Labyrinth to go to Jared’s castle and reclaim her little brother before he is turned into a goblin himself and stays with Jareth forever.
The movie clearly targets a young audience, with little consequences and stuff like death or injury being replaced by less harsh, but way more looney consequences. Like falling into the bog of Eternal Stench.. an event that will cause you to stink for the rest of your life. Amnesia or turning into a Goblin replace death as well, and the risk of injuries is often being played for jokes, such as creatures who can rip of their own head and toss it , put it on another creature and just have fun with it. When someone is crushed by a rock they just fly off like a bowling pin, and more like that. It makes the movie quite whimsical and delightfully lighthearted. However the dialogue has been written to appeal to a younger audience as well, which can at times feel a bit unnatural, like you are watching a high school play. Since the movie kind of sets this in a twisted version of a high school play though, I am not sure if it is an actual downside. It just is presented in a rather unnatural way.
The movie has a lot of similarities with the Wizard of Oz, in the sense with that there is a path to follow.. more or less but events constantly throw the journey off, and it even has more in common with Alice in Wonderland, with characters being extremely strange and the riddles and puzzles that have to be overcome are tackled in a manner that Alice oftenly would. The characters that join the main character however do really resemble the party format of Oz again.. with an ugly treacherous gnome/dwarf that finds friendship along the way, a ogre like creature that becomes braver as they go, and a dog knight that learns some humility and that fighting is not ALWAYS the answer. Very cute, and pretty well executed. The biggest trouble is that it kind of falls short when compared to it’s greatest inspirations, but those are pretty much masterpieces so I don’t really hold it to that standard. I can see why a critic would conclude it’s an inferior product though..because it is… however there isn’t that much in the genre anyway and as general entertainment I could not help but be slightly enamoured with this flick.
Twists and Turns
The moral of the story is where the “problem” of this movie lies. I will explain why I write “problem” in quotation marks a bit later on. The moral of this story and that the main character has to learn is “Life can be unfair sometimes, we just have to deal with it when that happens” .. or something like that. It is indeed unfair if a parent favours one child over the other, but it happens especially if one child is newborn and the other is in their teens. It is unfair that some pappa’s and mamma’s don’t stay together and you have to allow another person in your life. These are troubles Sarah has to face before the movie even starts.. but throughout the journey this theme is forced in pretty hard. The Labyrinth cheats! If she is smart enough to mark the route, little creatures will change it. A worm.. which by the way is the most adorable thing EVER .. tells her that sometimes she can walk through a solid wall! Sometimes solving a riddle and clearing an obstacle will immediately resolve in a new punishment. For a movie about making progress that can feel a bit lackluster.. and make progress feel more like a Deus Ex Machina than earned.
For example at one time Sarah is solving lots of mysteries in a row, some hubris sets in and she tells him, this is super easy. He then fast forwards time to give her 4 hours left instead of 8.. or something. Why not fast forward it all the way so you win?! Why give her a chance? Why come up with a riddle segment and have Sarah solve it.. if you give her the punishment for failing it anyway.. on a fundamental level it feels wrong. The movie isn’t satisfactory in that regard. Stuff happens because it happens, and normally I would HATE a movie for that. I hate a lot of anime who do that.. but this one gives clear hints on what is going on, you just have to assume something, something most people really do not like to assume these days. To enjoy this movie you have to watch it .. as an analogy rather than an adventure.. because while the events are fun, the actions taken end up being inconsequential due to the chosen theme.
I did not end up minding it all that much in retrospect when I saw the big picture but there where times I felt very frustrated. The character of Sarah is a big offender in this as well.. for the first half of the movie she is extremely whiny. She complains how unfair the maze is and how everything works against her. She vents this to characters who do not deserve it and the whole idea of wishing her brother away because she is studying a play and hates his crying noises already makes her feel quite bratty. An argument can be made that Jareth, the Goblin King is more appreciative of the baby than Sarah is and he’s the better choice. The movie fixes that later on but at several points in the movie I found myself rooting against Sarah! If you close your mind off because of that before the midway point, this movie might indeed suck. I don’t like children and Sarag began to annoy me just as a child would .. and then I realised… she is annoying but most children who would not be crippled by crying would react like this.. I as a child would have probably reacted like this.
The movie makes the odd choice to leave a lot of responsibility at the mature viewer, you have to poke through some things, if you take everything face value and “as seen on screen” this movie might not satisfy you. Like a fairy tale, we seem to walk across a beaten path with a cookie cutter morality and a clear sign of who will be the victor at the end. However if you poke a little deeper there a lot there. Do these events really happen? Or is it Sarah’s mind trying to cope with how unfair life is and allowing her to grow enough to learn a lesson. Do we sometimes need to let go of reality and it’s unfair to escape.. so we can later on face that unfairness.. that to me is what this movie is really about. What we see MIGHT have happened… but if she imagined it.. all those silly things that did not make sense before make sense.. after all she is creating the scenario and it also all feels very much like the mindset of a child, every single event even how the story sometimes derails into something so fantastical that it does not make sense… maybe Sarah ‘s true labyrinth is that of the feelings in her own mind. Kids get a cute little adventure, yet there is something for a mature audience as well. You just have to work your grey matter and imagination a bit to find it.
And then there’s Jim
The creatures we encounter on this adventure are so fun! I especially enjoyed Ludo the ogre , stone summoner and the worm! Oh I loved the worm so much! It had like 3 lines of text but it was great. It just tells Sarah there are doors that she can sometimes not see and she can move through some wall! But he also keeps inviting her over for dinner! Inviting her to come inside.. there is no clear indication of what he means inside, nor what’s for dinner. There is just a worm… in blue with a scarf that tells her you can go to a wall or come for dinner. I do not know why I love it so much but I absolutely adored it. Then there is a wise dwarf, with a talking hat who bestows wisdom on passersby. The hat looked a lot like the minish cap from zelda, even speaking in the same sarcastic tone. Two door knockers, gargoyle like by design one with the knocker in his ears the other in his mouth. One can’t hear one can’t speak! Find out which door is correct. I love this kind of stuff. Sir Didymus being a dog riding on a dog was great as well, especially since one is a puppet and the steed an actual dog! It is also quirky and even all the goblins felt unique!
This movie, while an original story feels very much like a fairytale.. but also like a hodgepodge of fairy tale tropes.. like a kid or young girl trying to write her own story, including moments where the story derails… a great example of this is when Sarah loses Ludo as her guardian, he just falls trough the floor for no reason, nor is a reason ever given after reuniting with him.. he just comes out of a tunnel… but while alone Sarah comes across creatures that look a lot like Kowakian Monkey Lizards from Star wars..but bigger.. in pink and yellow and orange fur. They sing a song and toss their heads around to tell Sarah they want her to play as well and will rip of her head. It feels so extreme for this story, very Alice in Wonderland.. and very much like I used to write when I was young.
There is an encounter with Jareth on some MC Escher like stairs, where trough camera choices I got absolutely confused which was the point and it felt great. For a movie about a Labyrinth I truly felt lost, Henson made most of his characters so insanely quirky that they become self aware of their quirk. Like the guardians with one always speaking the truth and one always lying, by all the questions they have been asked in the past and all the mystery they forgot who is who themselves.. and aren’t even sure if they should lie or tell the truth thus if Sarah goes trough the door and falls trough a hole we aren’t sure.. did the creatures accidentally flip roles, is the hole actually progress, you can feel lost if you allow yourself too and if you immerse yourself.. and a lot of it is due to the wonderful cinematography, amazing creatures and fun effects.
Some events have this level of theater effect to them.. like a stone coming in rolling very slow based or a pebble clearly on a wire being moved towards the main character. It feels like one of those old stage plays, like the Muppets is supposed to be I guess. It feels intentional yet hokey, it takes you out of the movie enough to give it a proper thought.. but also allows you to enjoy the wonderful creatures more. Like the hooded goblins with numbered helmets.. we see them several times but never see why their helmets are numbered.. not until way later where they end up being bowling pins to Ludo’s special attack! A super simple joke but long before that they were on my mind as to what the secret of thiose numbers could! It is all some great work and because it’s so hokey and forced at times.. it doesn’t age as poorly some effects feel like they were intended to feel wooden and forced.. so even the puppeteering that aged worse.. can be seen as semi intentional! Great work Mr Henson!
We are all mad here
If you asked me if I enjoyed this movie I would say yes! If you ask me if I had a good time while watching it, I’d be a bit more reluctant to say yes. The second half of the movie is a great ride so would a rewatch of the first half.. but the first time you watch this… or the first time in a long while … eeeeh…. Sarah is a brat and that ends up being great as we really go on a journey with her towards a better version of herself..but she comes across very abrasive from the start and only when she accepts the maze ins unfair, she becomes a remotely likeable character That is relatively late in the movie to start liking a main character. That’s the whole thing I think.. if you hold it to normal movie standards this is odd! Maybe to odd It doesn’t fit the normal criticising format. So if you review it as just a movie.. maybe it is bad. Reviewing by your normal, story, music, acting etc standards you can easily rate this a 5/10! Sure there is plenty of things wrong with this movie.. at least in the sense with how one normally reviews movies.
If you see it as a quirky visual fairy tale made by Jim Henson… that is a childs day dream about coming to term with the fact that she has a new family now and has to accept her new little brother as well as him getting more a spotlight than her you are in for a great time! This is NOT a movie that you measure by the normal standards, it can’t… well it can but in doing so you’d already be missing the essence of this flick! It doesn’t fit the standard bill. For once I do not really have a weird analogy for you this time because this thing is really unique! Labyrinth is not just a movie… Labyrinth is Labyrinth. If you can watch it with the goal of understanding or experiencing this wonderful product, rather than “put on a movie” a great time awaits you, that you will remember long into your happily ever after. The Bowie songs though will fade away rather quickly.
Did you see Labyrinth?! What did you think? Who is your favourite character? Let’s get lost in the comments but be sure to bring your Bedroll in case we really get lost! Because remember folks!
Friendship is magic but dreams are even more wonderful!