Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Labyrinth (1986)

"It's only forever. Not long at all."

This film is all about two departed individuals- Jim Henson, the creative mind behind a fantasy film whose fantastic beasts are, in the best possible way, Muppets; and the similarly missed David Bowie, arguably the greatest solo artist who ever lived and a true genius right up until the end. I can't help observing, though, that this major Hollywood starring role came at a time when his career had entered it'd mid-'80s slump, having failed to match the commercial success of Let's Dance and not really to experience a sustained career renaissance until (unorthodox opinion alert) Earthling. In this film he's the same age I am now, a sobering thought.

But what of the film? Well, it's '80s Hollywood fantasy in the best possible way, redolent of both Time Bandits and The NeverEnding Story in that it plucks a child from the world of the mundane and plucks them into a world of fantasy and adventure. Indeed, the first two thirds of the script bear the indelible imprint of the great Terry Jones, however much his contribution may have been changed. Certainly, the great Sir Didymus, a part of popular culture whom I am now finally able to know, reminds me of nothing more than the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail which was, I believe, a Jones/Palin scene.

Jennifer Connelly is splendid as the teenage, fantasy obsessed lead and Bowie is, well, magnificently himself as the Goblin King, with plenty of musical numbers to match. I suspect the fantasy world is based on items within Sarah's bedroom; certainly the Escher painting finale is. And my fellow Doctor Who fans will be reminded not only of Castrovalva but, because of a certain riddle, Pyramids of Mars. It's a picaresque, absurdly humorous little movie that channels Alice in Wonderland in the most splendidly '80s way possible. Not to be missed.


  1. Saw this movie myself after Bowie passed away... very odd beast and I don't just mean the creatures.

  2. Very odd indeed, especially with the passage of time. But it's an indefinable type of oddness we see in so many '80s Hollywood child-centred fantasy films. Zeitgeists can be well weird things.