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10 reasons why Labyrinth and Jupiter Ascending are the same movie

While there are obvious differences between the two films (which I’ll expand on in a later post), I’ve frequently discussed Jupiter Ascending and Labyrinth in the same breath. Here, I plan on outlining the most striking parallels between the two films. Have you seen one film but not the other? If so, does this pique your interest? Let me know!

1. The heroine 

In both films, the lead is a young woman dissatisfied with her dull, everyday life and marked by the absence of a parent (Jupiter’s father died before she was born, and Sarah’s mother left the family when Sarah was a child). Jupiter is bored and disillusioned by a string of bad breaks, and feels undervalued by her family members. Sarah, meanwhile, is frustrated by her dull, suburban existence, and considers herself taken for granted by her family. Naturally, this means that they’re both ripe for adventure and transformation.

2. Surreal/episodic adventure

Inadvertently, Jupiter and Sarah find themselves plunged into a fantastical world they had no idea existed before. They are faced with a series of loosely connected trials that they have to overcome before facing down against the larger-than-life big bad, who is - in both cases - threatening the safety of their family members. Jupiter and Sarah navigate their weird surroundings with admirable calm, demonstrating great courage and resilience in their efforts to return home.

3. Wizard of Oz plot

The Wachowskis (directors of Jupiter Ascending) and Jim Henson (director of Labyrinth) have acknowledged the influence of The Wizard of Oz on their respective films, and it shows. Jupiter Ascending and Labyrinth both follow a heroine who is whisked away to a fantastical other world and is intent on making it home at any cost, making new friends along the way and overcoming various diverse trials and enemies. Perhaps the best element of this link is that the Wachowskis are on record as saying that Caine, Jupiter’s burly, brooding love interest in Jupiter Ascending (who’s also half wolf, because of course he is), was modelled after Toto. Woof!

4. Family above all

in both films, the absolute priority for the heroine is her family. While she doesn’t fully appreciate them to begin with, feeling somewhat neglected and taken for granted, the threat of their loss spurs her into action and sees her go to any lengths to save them. While other bonds are formed over the course of the heroine’s adventures, her focus on her family and her desire to return to them never waver, even superseding concerns for her own safety.

5. Fantastical menagerie

Both films are populated by a diverse assortment of bizarre and weird-looking characters. In Jupiter Ascending we meet all sorts of alien and genetically modified creatures, including a humanoid pilot with an elephant’s face, a half man/half owl and a race of super-evolved and intelligent dinosaurs (who, incidentally, wear leather jackets). In Labyrinth, amongst many, MANY other creatures, you get a fox terrier who fancies himself a knight, a man with a bird growing out of his head and a goblin woman who permanently carries her manifold possessions around on her back. In short, both films are bursting at the seams with imaginative and out-there creature/character designs.

6. Glitter, glitter everywhere!

It’s difficult to identify a single shot entirely absent of glitter in either film, since it’s everywhere. In Jupiter Ascending, more than 1.3 million Swarovski crystals were used to make the costumes shimmer. In Labyrinth, meanwhile, 77 pounds of pearl glitter were used to make the walls of the ballroom sparkle. The sets sparkle. The costumes sparkle. The hair sparkles. Everything sparkles.

7. The Python connection

Both films have connections to former members of the Monty Python team, lending them flashes of surreal and distinctly British humour. Jupiter Ascending features a quirky and humourous homage to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil - best of all, the scene is topped off with a cameo from Gilliam himself. Labyrinth’s script was credited to Terry Jones, and while major changes were later made by others (leading him to distance himself from the film in subsequent interviews) the final film still has a strong strain of Python-esque humour.

8. Flamboyant aristocratic villain(s)

The sneering villain with the clipped vowels has been around since the invention of the sound film, but it’s rare to see the stereotype taken to the extremes embodied by Lord Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne) and Jareth the Goblin King (David Bowie). Both men are flamboyant and vain to ludicrous degrees, changing costumes from scene to scene to showcase their fabulous (and glittering) wardrobes. They also have a flagrant disregard for their underlings, variously kicking them, screaming orders in their faces and casually terminating their lives. Finally, both men are more than a little obsessed with the heroine, tracking her progress and demonstrating disturbing and deeply conflicted feelings in relation to her. If David Bowie didn’t have God-level charisma, Jupiter Ascending would actually have the upper hand in this area, since it has not one, not two, but three aristocratic villains (Balem has two equally conniving and dissolute siblings, Lady Kalique and Lord Titus, who Jupiter meets beforehand). And, of course, every last one of them is thoroughly British. Who would have it any other way?

9. Strength from within (mild spoilers)

While physical strength is usually depicted as the ultimate force in big-budget, high-concept filmmaking, Jupiter Ascending and Labyrinth have their respective heroines triumph through their spiritual strength as opposed to any physical clout. Without spoiling anything, the key moments for both heroines have them deny the villain’s hold over them by giving voice to a simple but resonant truth they’ve always carried within them. These proclamations mark moments of defining self-realisation and leave the villains they’re directed at disbelieving and defeated, triggering their ultimate destruction. 

10. Lessons learned (mild spoilers)

In the end, the heroine returns to her family and seemingly picks up the mantle of her old life. While it’s easy to dismiss this as regression, both films make it clear that the heroine has undergone an important change - a change in outlook. Instead of feeling like she is drifting through a mediocre existence, Jupiter finds both purpose and a sense of belonging - she is happy to return to her cleaning job for the time being because it is finally her choice to do so, not a duty being forced upon her by circumstance. Equally, her family demonstrate that they love her just as much as she loves them, buying her the telescope she had craved because it was the same as the one possessed by her dead father. Sarah, meanwhile, learns to value her brother - and indeed her whole family - after losing him and realising what he meant to her. She is ready to assume responsibility and make peace with the injustices she had previously been fixated with. While both heroines return home, they maintain contact with the new world where their adventures took place. In short, the resolution to both films represents a balance being struck between the mundane world and the fantastic one - and this balance, in turn, makes change and growth possible.

That’s it for this post, folks - I hope you found this a fun and interesting read! Did I miss anything?

“This collage found on the link above pictures Jim and Pam, of course, but also Ola Hudson and her son Saul, which later became Slash, from Guns and Roses. Ola was a close friend of Jim and Pamela, she was a famous designer and used to own a neat little boutique called Skitzo. Later, she designed outfits for rockstars, including such as David Bowie. Pamela worked in the shop for some time and regularly babysat Slash, when Jim would also come around often at the store. Pamela eventually even modelled for the store, where she was taken in photo by photographer Paul Ferrara. Unfortunately, the pictures haven’t surfaced so far though.” [x]

Oh my god, I love that song so much! It was something we were trying to get done for many, many, many months. Brian Reitzell had known some of Siouxsie Sioux’s people and I had been such a huge fan of hers — Siouxsie Sioux and David Bowie are kind of like the mom and pop of my musical tastes, I’ve seen her in concert more than any other artists — so for me, the honor of having her write an original song for the show is a career high and one that I’m still on, because I love the song. It feels like a James Bond theme and it’s big and poetic and lyrical and she hasn’t released a song in eight years. We asked and she said, “actually, I haven’t been inspired to write in a really long time, but this show inspires me and so yes, I’ll do it.”

We talked about the love story, that it was a love story between Will and Hannibal and the song should be a love theme, and she wrote “Love Crime.” It’s exactly what the sequence needed, and it was one of those where I had said to Brian Reitzell when I finally finished editing the episode, I was like, “this ending, it’s yours to save, because I think it needs to be better and we really need you to put your magic on it.” And he was like, “well, I just got the Siouxsie Sioux song…” And we had a listening party over at David Slade’s house; David and his wife Erica and Brian Reitzell and I were just sitting there, and everyone just kept pointing to their forearms because they were getting goosepimples and chills from hearing it.