Monday, June 27, 2011
Monday Matinee: Labyrinth
The choosing of the film "Labyrinth" for the Monday matinee blog entry this week was an inspired choice, and as it turns out, the timing of the entry could not be better.
This past Saturday evening, I was invited over for a dinner and a movie night with a friend who I've known for at least two decades, if not more. It was a great night, and we both had fun catching up with each other and reminiscing about good times.
The movie we both decided to watch was 'Labyrinth', which ended up being Jim Henson's final film before his death in 1990. The film was about a teenage girl named Sarah, who was a bit resentful of her baby brother, Toby, and in a fit of anger wished that goblins would come and take him away. Little did she know that those words would send her into a whole new world, where she must endure the trials and challenges within the labyrinth to storm the castle and save her brother from being turned into a goblin himself.
Before I continue on with further details about this movie, I will say that the timing of this blog entry could not have been more perfect.
Today's date is June 27, 2011. Labyrinth was first released in theatres on June 27, 1986.
Therefore, today is Labyrinth's 25th anniversary.
Pretty freaky, no?
Almost as freaky as a thirteen hour clock, wouldn't you say?
Now, going back to the story, I don't think Sarah really meant for goblins to take away Toby. She couldn't help it that she was studying a book entitled 'Labyrinth', and reading the lines of the book aloud. And sure, she was angry that Toby was playing with her teddy bear without her permission. I'm sure that even she wouldn't have wanted goblins to steal him away just because of that.
Alas, that's exactly what happened. She said it while the baby was crying, and when the crying suddenly stopped, she investigated and he was gone. Vanished. Without a trace.
Alas, she couldn't call Poppy Montgomery and the rest of the 'Without A Trace' crew to help her out...Poppy was only thirteen then.
Instead, all she got was a barn owl flying through the window, morphing into David Bowie.
David Bowie played Jareth, the King of Goblins, and he reveals to Sarah that he has abided by her wishes and taken away Toby.
But, wait! Sarah didn't want that at all. She wanted him to give back Toby, and give him back now!
This is where the 13-hour clock that I posted up above comes into play. You see, Jareth would give Sarah back her baby brother, but only if she found her way through the labyrinth within a thirteen hour time limit. If she was even so much as one second late, then Jareth would turn Toby into a goblin forever.
Of course, the challenge is a daunting one for Sarah. Almost immediately, she gets lost in the maze, and can't seem to find a way out. She eventually gets some advice from a very unlikely source.
Okay, so the worm kinda sent her in the wrong direction, but the worm also provided a valuable clue for Sarah (and a valuable life lesson).
When things get tough, and you feel as though there is no way out...you just might only be looking at something through face value. If one thinks out a problem logically, and tries examining alternative solutions to problems, they may find that it's not that difficult at all.
Sarah's little inchworm friend there wasn't the only ally she encountered along the way either.
There was Hoggle, a dwarf creature who treated fairies as if they were mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus. He refused to help Sarah in any way until she offered him up some of her jewelry. It's revealled later in the film that he is working as a double-agent for Jareth, and Hoggle was supposed to stop her from reaching the castle in time. He is extremely conflicted during the whole film, and often did things to hinder her journey. However, when he genuinely feels guilt for trying to stop Sarah in her quest to save Toby, Sarah can find it in her heart to forgive him.
The next creature Sarah happens to meet is...well...take a look.
I only regret that clip was only ten seconds long...so here's another one for you...
Yep...I'm talking about Ludo!
Ludo, the beast-like creature, who may be scary-looking and gigantic on the outside, but warm and soft on the inside. Sarah comes across Ludo when he's tied up by Jareth's goblins and tortured by them. With some clever work on her part, she distracts the goblins long enough for her to rescue Ludo. Ludo is grateful for the help and he considers Sarah to be a friend after she saved him.
He later gets a chance to prove his loyalty by using his powers to control gigantic boulders to scare the goblins away while Sarah sneaks into the castle to rescue Toby.
Finally, you had the tag team duo of Sir Didymus and his loyal steed Ambrosius. Sir Didymus was the guardian of the bridge that spanned the Bog of Eternal Stench, and thus did not let anyone through without permission. However, once Sarah asked him if they could have permission to cross, he agreed and quickly joined the team.
Sir Didymus was loyal, brave, and definitely someone you wanted on your team. Ambrosius on the other hand...not so much.
The road that Sarah took was not linear by any means, and even with help from her new friends, she still got into trouble. In particular with her misguided trust in Hoggle. When Sarah began to get hungry, Hoggle handed her a piece of fruit, which she greatly accepted. Sadly, the fruit made her space out in ways nobody thought imaginable.
Jareth gave Hoggle the piece of fruit to give to Sarah to stall her long enough for her to miss the thirteen hour deadline that she had been given to save Toby from the goblins. And they almost would have succeeded had Sarah not come to her senses and fought her way through.
For you see, the whole journey through the Labyrinth was Sarah's coming of age moment.
Think about it. When we're first introduced to Sarah in the film, she comes across as a spoiled, entitled brat. She only cares about material possessions, and how good she looks to others, and how the world should revolve around her, and how she can't stand it when other people control everything she does.
Basically your typical fifteen year old in a nutshell.
It almost seemed out of character for Sarah to then befriend so many strangers, yet she did. It seemed unlikely that she would have helped Ludo in her own world, but in the labyrinth, she didn't give it a second thought. She asked Didymus politely if she could cross the bridge instead of pitching a temper tantrum like she usually did at home. Even when Hoggle was playing all sorts of tricks to stall her, she eventually forgave him, which is probably something that she wouldn't have done before.
So why the sudden change in attitude?
One could argue that she was more than determined to save her brother at all costs, and figured that the more help she had to get to the castle, the better. And maybe she figured out that the best way to find her brother was to put his needs before her own.
Or, just possibly, maybe she felt incredibly alone, and needed some company no matter who they were.
I mean, once again, just think about it. When we're first introduced to Sarah, we only see her alone in the park reading her Labyrinth book and trying to remember the words. We don't see her with friends in the park, or at her house, or even at school. It's almost as if the film sort of makes out that Sarah has somewhat of a sheltered existence, and that's part of the reason why she was so meticulous about everything in her room...and why she was so against Toby taking a hold of her precious teddy bear.
Is it any wonder why she was the way that she was?
She may have entered the labyrinth as an insecure, bratty teenager, but she certainly didn't stay that way.
With the help of her newfound friends, she made it into the castle, and after a battle of wills against Jareth, she...well...I'm sure you can guess what happens at the end. :)
All in all, Labyrinth may not have been all that successful at the theatres, but it means the world to a lot of people from my generation...all in all because of the life lessons one can learn from watching the film.
That being that any leopard can change their spots...if what they're fighting for is worth the change.
A profound message this Monday.