Why Do Your Crazy Friends Love Labyrinth So Much?
Growing up in the 80’s you were very aware of Jim Henson and his many wonders varying from the Muppets to Sesame Street. But Henson came out with this other little movie during the decade called Labyrinth. This particular movie changed many a childhood, but the love and loathe for this particular film became split.
The half that detest the film usually lean on two reasons. One, they don’t really like fantasy. Two, David Bowie freaks them out. There are plenty of fellow geeks and nerds that fall into either category, but mostly lean towards the David Bowie reason, because they do truly enjoy fantasy. These individuals are at a loss as to why in the hell their friends not only love it but loooooove it.
One of my best friends cannot stand this movie, which I forget about until she reminds me. I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that she hates it. She loves tons of fantasy fun and weird. Hell, she loves The Dark Crystal. Then I remember she is not a fan David Bowie. To be fair, Mr. Bowie was handling weird long before this movie, and the Jareth look didn’t make him look any saner. Even though my friend is not alone in her distaste of this movie, she just can’t understand why I love it.
Of course there were the Bowie fans that naturally gravitated, but the movie itself was our main pull. Many of us became fans of Bowie because of Labyrinth. So what exactly draws us into this fantastical story of a bratty teenager quickly coming to terms with her oldest child syndrome so she can save her baby brother from the chester that wants to keep her forever?
I realize where selling is concerned, that little synopsis didn’t help much. Chester or not, I didn’t see that when I was younger. Hell, I didn’t see the damn pants when I was younger. I saw a girl living the story she based her life around simply because she asked. She asked for someone to take her away, and Jareth came for her. So Sarah wasn’t exactly serious when she told her baby brother that she hated him and wanted to be rid of him. Sarah was going through a lot, emotionally as well. This story was about her growing up and fighting to want to.
Jareth’s world was the fantasy she had always dreamed about. He gave her adventure. Hell, he gave her friends. Based on how close she was with her dog and immersed in her imaginary world, I don’t think Sarah had any friends. There were no pictures in her room either. Scrapbooks had her face littered all over it, but no one else. Most importantly, he gave her a reason to take her brother’s existence seriously.
Jareth certainly gave her everything, but not exactly out of the kindness of his own heart. He wanted her to be with him forever. It's not long at all. Whether Jareth was capable of love or not, he certainly moved heaven and earth around her to give her what he thought she wanted and ultimately to get what he, himself, wanted . Again, this still doesn’t answer why this movie is so great.
No it’s not David Bowie’s endowment that did the trick. It was the ball scene. Everything was fun and playful with all of the goblins and other creatures up until the moment Sarah took a bite out of that forbidden fruit. When Sarah finds herself in the middle of that ball wearing that insane yet coveted 80’s ball gown with hair that probably took out its own personal chunk of the ozone layer, well, that was when shit got real.
Sarah stood for many a geek. We related to her. Dreamed like her. And then, we got to dream with her and, most importantly, David Bowie. No ,kids, he wasn’t Jareth in this scene. He was straight up David Bowie all because of that damn amazing song. The song that makes the hearts of nerd girls everywhere pause. That damn song spoke to us. It tore into our very souls. It ripped out every sad unrequited love we ever had and all of the lonely and dark tidbits that followed, twisting it up into a melody that would forever draw us in like a damn pied piper. How we wanted what that man was selling. It didn’t matter how many times we watched it or how old we’ve gotten. That song gave us the ultimate fantasy we and Sarah dreamed about it. And since Sarah was our well placed avatar, we lived that scene and song like David Bowie, the bad boy rock god, made it just for us. Our hopeless romantic tendencies went into overdrive, and we just didn’t care.
Most of us that are big fans have the soundtrack, which we love and sing along to. I don’t think I am the only one that takes a moment when the opening synthesized notes of As the World Falls Down start. This ain’t no A Whole New World. That song is charming and fluffy, appropriate for all ages. Bowie wrote a song that would evoke feelings and tingles that most of us wouldn’t even begin to grasp for another five to ten years. It built a bubble that we would do anything to keep firmly intact. This song was grown. So what if people don’t find Bowie attractive. I have always said that there is a difference between hot and sexy. Hot will only get you so far, but sexy is self-reliant. And Mr. Bowie/Jareth had plenty of sexy with that song and scene.
That scene and song is the main reason we overlook Jareth’s pedophile tendencies and sit back and enjoy the whole damn ride that is Labyrinth. This is why there is a damn masquerade ball in LA every year in Jareth’s honor. I’m telling you, everybody wants a piece of that.
As awesome as that is, we all root for Sarah when she says, “You have no power over me.” Jareth was spinning some crazy talk like a shady misogynistic boyfriend, and she put him in his place. While we as fans are certainly tempted by Jareth's wiles, we still get our priorities straight along with Sarah.
Maybe there are some of you out there that watched this when you were a kid and never really watched it again, just kind of disliked it since. Challenge yourselves to give it another whirl. If you still don’t like it then okay, but who knows, maybe you will.