There’s a moment of magic in Labyrinth you might never have noticed on the small screen. Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is threatening to say the words that will make her little brother disappear when the movie cuts from her suburban home to a screen brimming with goblins’ faces, peering out at us like we’re peering in at them. It’s surreal, hilarious, and proof that in Jim Henson’s worlds the impossible can appear without warning.
Labyrinth is so beloved today that it’s easy to forget it was a critical and box office disappointment back in 1986. And yet it had a witty screenplay by Monty Python’s Terry Jones; five new songs by its Goblin King, David Bowie; amazing puppeteers including the up-and-coming Kevin Clash, later to become the man behind Sesame Street’s Elmo; even a puppet fox riding a real-life dog like a horse. How could anyone resist? Luckily it found new generations of fans thanks to home video. Bowie remarked that now “every Christmas a new flock of children comes up to me and says, ‘Oh! You're the one who's in Labyrinth’!”
It might not have the spiritual depth of Henson’s earlier masterpiece The Dark Crystal, but Labyrinth makes up for it in playfulness. It slyly introduced audiences to logic puzzles, MC Escher staircases, destructively codependent relationships, and David Bowie’s frankly alarming codpiece. If there’s a moral to this story, it’s in an ending that quietly suggests – just like in The Dark Crystal – good and evil might be less distinct than we’re taught to believe. And neither is as important as magic.
Limited season of a new 2K digital presentation in 5.1 surround sound.