My local independent cinema recently showed the amazing cult-classic children’s movie Labyrinth. I grew up idolizing this incredible film, and like many, am still totally in love with it. It’s a funny, heart-warming and quirky film, in which the creatures and monsters of imagination are brought to life by fantastic puppetry and beautiful set designs. The magical Labyrinth, full of grumpy goblins, scary fairies and the terrifying “Bog of Eternal Stench!” has quietly seared itself into the conscience of a generation of youngsters. Quite simply, you either love this film, or don’t know about it.
If you have never come across this film, you will still be more than familiar with the work of many of those involved. It could be Jim Henson’s Muppets, Terry Jones in Monty Python, George Lucas’ Star Wars or, of course, the legendary David Bowie. Along with director Frank Oz, artists Brian and Wendy Froud and actress Jennifer Connelly, these people have all had a huge impact on modern culture.
Unusually for a cult favourite, this film never seems to get the love and attention it deserves online. It only gets rated at 62% on movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, and there isn’t really too much information out there for fans. Here’s the less than enticing information from Labyrinth’s Wikipedia page:
“Labyrinth is a 1986 British/American fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas, and designed by Brian Froud. Henson collaborated on the screenwriting with children's author Dennis Lee, Terry Jones from Monty Python, and Elaine May (although only Jones received screen credit).
The film stars David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King and Jennifer Connelly as Sarah Williams. The plot revolves around Sarah's quest to find the way through an enormous otherworldly maze so that she can rescue her little brother, Toby, from Jareth. Most of the other significant roles are played by puppets or by a combination of puppetry and human performance. It was shot on location in New York and at Elstree Studios and Hampstead Heath in the UK. It was the last feature film directed by Henson before his death in 1990”.
So I think this film deserves so much more recognition. For some reason, perhaps simply because it’s a children’s film, because of it’s fairytale theme, or because it’s so idiosyncratic and fantastical, it has never reached the iconic status of the likes of Star Wars or even The Muppets. Well, over the next few weeks I’m going to be writing about why this movie is, without a doubt, the greatest children’s film of all time and why it, and the artists and techniques used to make it, deserves to be regarded with tremendous respect along with nostalgia and affection.
If you agree with me please get in touch, or if you disagree let me know too!
Coming up first will be:
The Froudian artwork