Monday, 11 June 2012

Labyrinth

Labyrinth; fantasy, UK/ USA, 1986; D: Jim Henson, S: Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Shari Weiser

Teenage girl Sarah has to babysit her baby brother Toby while her parents are away. She wishes that "goblins take him away", so they do. Sarah wants to take her wish back, so the goblin king, Jareth, transports her to his land and gives her 13 hours to find his castle by passing through the labyrinth. Teaming up with bizarre creatures - the giant Ludo, the dwarf Hoggle, knight Dydimus - Sarah finds Toby in the castle and returns him back home.

Even though it did not perform well at the US box office, the last film directed by Jim Henson, "Labyrinth", rallied such an opulent display of amazing make up, costumes, set design and special effects (nominated for a BAFTA) that it was hard for it not to advance into a cult achievement for its sheer standing out from the rest of the movies. The creatures and the whole fantasy world they inhabit are a masterwork of effects craft - even more when one has in mind that it was made for only 25 million $ - yet, as it is often the case, fantasy movies exist on two levels - the level of effects, and the level of quality storytelling - whereas here there seems to have been a break-up between those two since the effects are here, but a good story seems to be someplace else. Despite an interesting decision to build a movie almost exclusively between two human characters - Sarah and Jareth - surrounded by puppets, some puppets turned out more alive than the main heroine, yet even the puppets vary in the degree of character development (for instance, knight Dydimus is the only fully fleshed out personality, whereas numerous others seem to be just pale extras. The dry Hoggle is only interesting in the humorous scene when he was introduced urinating). The lack of wit and lukewarm dramaturgy bother, as well as some bizarre ideas, including the disturbing sequence where Sarah wishes for "goblins to take away the baby", yet some scenes are almost iconic (walking on stairs upside down or sideways) whereas David Bowie easily stands out as the nontransparent Jareth.

Grade;+

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