Labyrinth 30th Anniversary Movie Review

Labyrinth 30th Anniversary Movie Review

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As many of you know, I'm a big Jim Henson fan. 

I am also a huge Muppets fan.

As a child, The Muppets and Sesame Street and the rest of the child-centric Jim Henson creations were my jam. The only thing I really loved from the Creature Shop was Jim Henson's The Storyteller series - and even that series freaked me out. I am a sensitive soul with an overactive imagination and most things to come out of the Creature Shop gave me the heebie jeebies.

Thus, I have never seen Labyrinth.

Let me rephrase that, I HAD never seen Labyrinth.

Until now.

Please get all the shouts of disbelief out of your system. When I brought this up to my Talking Threads cohorts, their faces were priceless. [I had also never seen The Dark Crystal (see aforementioned here jeebies), but I watched that too so y'all can simmer down now.]

As I spent my summer in Atlanta interning at the Center for Puppetry Arts - which is now featuring a special exhibit including creatures from the movie and have just hosted a Labyrinth 30th Anniversary costume ball to kick-off DragonCon weekend (nerdiest sentence I've ever typed) - I thought it would be a perfect time to finally watch and review the movie.

I was a little worried pre-viewing - sometimes people's childhood favorites don't quite hold up upon adult viewing. And since I had never seen it as a kid, the movie didn't have nostalgia on its side.

HOWEVER, as a Jim Henson production, the movie obviously won me over.

Yes, it's a little ridiculous - okay, a lot ridiculous - but I continue to be a sucker for puppetry. It's not my favorite, but it's a fun movie, albeit a little slow, with entertaining creatures. The goblin designs were great and typically Henson. My favorite characters were Ludo and Sir Didymus. Hoggle creeped me out a bit, the Fireys did a lot.

Even though the Fireys were weird as all get out, I noticed they did the same "eyes on finger" trick from Beetlejuice (or Beetlejuice got it from Labyrinth since it came out later.)

Henson, Jim, dir . Labyrinth . TriStar Pictures, 1986. Film.

Henson, Jim, dir. Labyrinth. TriStar Pictures, 1986. Film.

Burton, Tim, dir.  Beetlejuice.  Warner Bros.,   1988.   Film.

Burton, Tim, dir. Beetlejuice. Warner Bros., 1988. Film.

I did wish they utilized David Bowie's musical aptitude more and given him more songs. I'm all about the dance numbers.

The movie also had an Old English Sheepdog, which is the kind of dog I had as a kid. I loved the parts of the movie were the moments that showed the real dog version of Ambrosius cutting to the puppet version.

In regards to the costume design, I think they utilized textures quite well. The costume Sarah was wearing in the opening scene helped set up the theme of being out of place - she was dressed as a fairy-tale character in a modern setting. This theme continued when she went into the Labyrinth/Goblin City and was wearing modern clothes in an alternate world. 

Jareth's costume was super cool; a glam-rock pirate with Tina Turner hair. Very 80s. Very Bowie.

In general, the movie's costume design was a hodge-podge of time-periods - a bit Medieval, some late Renaissance, and of course, 80's hair band. Plus a bit of others here and there. In the sense of world-building, I don't know if it did a great job other than the fact it was most obviously a Jim Henson-created world.

Ellis Flyte (ex-wife of Brian Henson) and Brian Froud did costume design for the movie. They won a Saturn Award for "Best Costumes" for their work on the movie. I'm sure it was seen as great at the time, but I've been spoiled by more current costume design in television (Game of Thrones) and movies (Lord of the Rings). But let's be real, is there anything Bria Froud can't do?

All in all I enjoyed watching it. I probably won't make it on the list of my favorite movies I watch when I'm sick, but it was entertaining. And it had puppets, so all's well.

Cultural Stories in Animation

Cultural Stories in Animation