Thursday, 3 February 2011

80s Movies: Labyrinth (1986)

You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power... Labyrinth remains one of my absolute favourite movies - and not in a nostalgic way, either. I love it because... well, partly because it's a full-on 80s movie, but also for a million other reasons. Brilliant dialogue, superb puppetry, two of my favourite actors - David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, Zoolander) and Jennifer Connelly (Inventing the Abbotts, Dark City) - and a storyline that's genuinely unpredictable.

We're talking about a film that is forever in my recently watched DVDs pile - and when I'm not watching it, I'm often listening to Bowie's incredible soundtrack. Majestic, magical, and much-maligned, his compositions might not be totally timeless but they suit the film absolutely perfectly.

The Plot

At its heart, Labyrinth is a coming-of-age movie - about losing the shackles of self-interest and jealousy, and learning to care more for others than for yourself. That is what Connelly's Sarah has to go through, both within and without the Labyrinth. In the real world it is her step-brother (or should that be half-brother? I've never understood it...) Toby who she must learn to love - but he's been kidnapped by Goblin King Jareth and taken to the castle at the centre of the Labyrinth.

Inside the Labyrinth things are more complicated, with genuinely multi-faceted characters whose cowardice and treachery are their own obstacles to overcome, while they help Sarah to defeat her own jealousy. Hoggle, Ludo, Sir Didymus and his proud steed Ambrosius are her Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow on this journey - and she has just thirteen hours to solve the Labyrinth before "your baby brother becomes one of us... forever".

The Soundtrack

The aforementioned David Bowie soundtrack features some true gems - but in truth I tend to listen to it in full, in order and for hours on end.

Magic Dance provides the lyrics with which I opened this article, and some of the catchiest lines on the whole soundtrack. In the movie itself, this is also the biggest production, with a set riddled with holes to allow all the puppeteers to get into place.

Personal favourites for me, however, are Hallucination and As The World Falls Down - a pairing that deserves to be heard in sequence, as they occur in the film, and which really sum up the loss of hope and control that the Masked Ball scene represents for Sarah - and the turning point when she finally decides to save her brother, rather than remain in the Labyrinth as a princess.

Memorable Quotations

No introduction needed here, they're just iconic moments for me:

Hoggle: "I ain't lost ma heed!"

Sarah: "I've never smelled anything like it. It's like..."
Hoggle: "It doesn't matter what it's like - it's a Bog of Eternal Stench."

Worm: "Allo."
Sarah: "Did you say... 'hello'?"
Worm: "No, I said 'allo'... but that's close enough."

80s Movies

In February, POPSICULTURE are dedicating the month to a look back at the iconic films of the 1980s - a decade whose films continue to draw massive audiences when they are shown on TV. To follow posts in this series, check the 80s Movies label or sign up to the dedicated RSS feed.

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