Classic Film Scene: Labyrinth

Labyrinth

Great films appear every year and with them are potentially classic scenes that may become more famous than the film itself. The shower scene in Psycho, the chariot race in Ben Hur, the chest bursting moment in Alien, and the opera music sounding across the prison yard in The Shawshank Redemption are just some of the examples of the classic celluloid moments that we may be familiar with even if we’ve never seen the film. I’ll be sharing my favourite film scenes, some you will know others may be unfamiliar, but hopefully they’ll be moments you enjoy as much as I do.

Labyrinth (1986) – Within You

LabyrinthI’ve been a fan of fantasy for as long I can remember but one of my earliest forays into this wonderful genre would have been growing up in the eighties and watching Labyrinth (1986). Directed by the late Jim Henson, responsible for the likes of Sesame Street (1969), The Muppets (1975) and Fraggle Rock (1983), Labyrinth followed in the footsteps of Henson’s The Dark Crystal (1982) with puppets being the most prominent in the cast but with Labyrinth we have Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie as the film’s leads. This is a timeless classic fantasy film that I will never tire of watching even though my childhood has long since passed. Containing some great songs from Bowie and even a spot of dancing in places there is so much to enjoy here.

After the opening credits during which Bowie sings the excellent, Underground, the film begins with teenager Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) reciting a passage from her favourite book, Labyrinth. Realising she’s lost track of time, Sarah rushes home to be confronted by her angry stepmother who wants her to babysit Toby. While Sarah’s father and stepmother go out, Sarah is left looking after the crying Toby and in anger begins telling a story of how a Goblin King gives special powers to a girl he has fallen in love with and how the king will free her from her baby brother. Leaving the room, Sarah wishes for the goblins to take Toby away before she turns out the light. No sooner has she left the room than Toby’s crying stops. The goblins have indeed taken him away! Sarah is then visited by a barn owl that turns into Jareth (David Bowie), King of the Goblins, who insists he only took Toby because Sarah wanted him to. When Sarah demands Toby back Jareth gives her 13 hours to solve his intricate labyrinth and rescue Toby or he will turn the baby into a goblin. Sarah sets out on her journey overcoming mazes that keep changing, the Bog of Eternal Stench, the Fire Gang who can detach and reattach their limbs and heads at will, and Jareth’s goblin army before she closes on the king’s castle. Along the way, Sarah befriends a dwarf named Hoggle, a fox knight named Sir Didymus and a gentle beast named Ludo that offer their help during her epic journey.

The standout scene for Labyrinth was tough to call. I was tempted with the moment Sarah eats poisoned fruit which induces hallucinations of a ballroom dance where all the guests are in masquerade and in the background Bowie sings As The World Falls Down. However, the best moment for me is when Sarah and her friends reach the castle but Sarah insists she has to face Jareth alone. Ascending a stairway Sarah finds herself in a vast room reminiscent of the work of M.C. Escher which depicted impossible structures. In Labyrinth we have stairways that are sideways and upside down which stuns Sarah but not more so than when she peers over the edge of a walkway and finds Jareth looking up at her, the Goblin King standing upside down on the other side! During this scene Bowie sings Within You, the best song in Labyrinth, while Sarah tries to figure out the complex walkways so she can rescue Toby. Jareth watches from afar as Sarah tries to reach her brother. Eventually Sarah finds herself on a ledge high above Toby but after a moment’s hesitation she leaps down towards the baby. Instead of being reunited with Toby, Sarah finds the stairways have broken up and she slowly descends to a platform below where the final confrontation with Jareth takes place. It’s a brilliant exchange between the two with the seemingly omnipotent Jareth growing ever more desperate as Sarah’s resolve finally comes forward. A superb ending to a brilliant film.

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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