Movie Review – “Labyrinth (1986)”

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The thirty-year anniversary showing of Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth” provides an enriching movie experience, as it includes a behind the scenes look into the movie and sheds light on a new exhibit at the Center of Puppetry Arts in Atlanta that includes puppets from the movie. The Fathom event could not have been more timely, especially with the recent passing of one of the movie’s stars, Musical Legend David Bowie.

Bowie plays the cunning Goblin King, Jareth with incredible ease, while a young Jennifer Connelly lights up the screen as the film’s charming herione, Sarah. Sarah is an over-imaginative teen girl who recites the words from her favorite fantasy novel that make her crying baby brother, Toby, get taken away by Jareth. Early on, we learn Jareth has magic powers, as can be seen by what he can do with crystal balls. Unless Sarah rescues Toby in 13 hours, her brother will turn into a goblin. But first, she must conquer the labyrinth outside the castle. It doesn’t help that many of the characters she meets there, such as the worm and the dwarf Hoggle, are as deceptive as the labyrinth, itself. Sarah realistically portrays a teen girl, who perhaps, escapes reality through this fantasy world, which includes the colorful cast of Jareth, Hoggle, a giant beast, named Ludo and the fox-terrier Didymus. The crisp dialogue moves the movie along well and greatly contributes to its whimsical nature, as well. Henson’s puppets are imaginative, and yet seem real to life, as well. This would make a great family movie, as it has a little something in it for everyone – from the catchy music to the many well-detailed scenes.

Some fun facts: “Labyrinth” is more humorous and light-hearted than “Dark Crystal,” Henson’s first fantasy movie to not feature The Muppets. It took 48 puppets  and 53 puppeteers to shoot the “Magic Dance” scene. Bowie performed music he made specifically for the movie. Brian Froud’s influence in the conceptual designs for the creatures can be seen throughout. I recommend checking out the DVD’s in-depth look into the making of the movie to really see all that went into it.

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About Philip B.

I'm a recent MLS graduate seeking work as a youth services librarian in a public library. I especially enjoy organizing and presenting storytimes using my puppetry and storytelling skills. I love books, both print and electronic. I also enjoy art, music, theatre and baseball. One of my favorite summer activities is going to the NC mountains and exploring hiking trails.

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