For years, I’ve frequented the website for Fathom Events to see older films. Thanks to them, I finally watched classics like Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, My Fair Lady and Gone with the Wind. This is my first time watching today’s feature, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.
Labyrinth whisks you away to an odd fairy tale filled with magic, groovy music and goblins. It harmonizes Henson’s masterful puppetry design with singer David Bowie’s infectious songs. Thirty-five years later, Henson proves handmade effects can feel alive and solidifies himself as a unique visionary.
Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) breathes the worlds of theatre and Arthurian literature. She hates her step-mom and new baby brother, Toby. Her childish pleas to banish Toby away to Goblin King Jareth (Bowie) will change her life forever.
Connelly plays Sarah as spoiled, whiny and selfish. She learns to care for others along her journey. Her melodramatic line delivery works with her drama queen personality. Bowie charms as Jareth, taking a larger-than-life and playful approach. I imagine he won many women’s hearts when this movie came out.
Bowie blesses us with original songs pumped with pure 1980s energy. My favorite plays in the ballroom bubble, “As The World Falls Down.” Another favorite, the bouncy “Underground,” begins and ends the movie with harmonious gospel choirs. You’ll be tapping your foot to “Dance Magic” as Jareth jams with his goblins. “Within You” tops off the climax and final faceoff between Sarah and Jareth.
Henson’s team amazes in puppetry design for Labyrinth. My eyes were so busy analyzing tiny details in characters like Hoggle, voiced by Henson’s son Brian. Every bump, pimple, wrinkle and ridge add twisted realism to each individual.
A featurette played before my showing, Remembering Jim Henson. It included Henson’s children who run his company. You can see original puppet models used here and more at Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia.
The featurette showed interviews with Henson. When talking about directing, he said he wanted to leave a movie happier than he was coming in. That’s exactly what I felt. I didn’t want to leave Sarah’s adventure.
Henson also said his works focused on themes important to him. Labyrinth deals with the power of friendship, trust and realizing everything isn’t what it seems. Sarah becomes selfless, clever and compassionate when her journey ends.
MY RATING? 4/5. Labyrinth sucks us into a cult classic fantasy stylized like nostalgic children’s books. It fuses fantasy, music and beautiful practical effects to create something truly special. A family-friendly adventure still beloved three decades later.
I’ll cover more limited showings from Fathom Events soon. The 80th anniversary of Citizen Kane (Sept. 22) is next!
Fathom Events Official (https://www.fathomevents.com/)