“I remember writing this one when there was a storm going on. They get like mad storms over there [in New York], like, apocalyptic. I’m always trying to think of different interesting ways to like describe somebody but compliment them too. So in that one, I like the idea that she’s not even a thunderstorm, she’s more than one. I quite like the fact she’s plural. ‘Thunderstorms’ meaning just, y’know, awesome!” — Alex Turner
Introverted Feeling (Fi): Sarah is clearly brimming with emotions – about her dad’s remarriage, her new stepmother, and her half-brother, whom she has to babysit… but she never directly references any of these emotions except in her behavior. She has dual natures in her feelings; one side of her is angry and resentful enough to offer up her brother to the goblins (even though she did not believe it would happen) and the other is willing to do anything to get him back. Jareth’s repeated attempts to seduce her away from the moral course she has set for herself meet with failure, because he cannot comprehend her intense internal emotional drive. She has no choice but to get Toby back. To do otherwise is to sacrifice her ethics. She shows warmth and kindness to Hoggle and other creatures in the Labyrinth, and cannot abide the thought of innocent creatures being tortured.
Extroverted Intuition (Ne): She prefers her rich imagination to the real world, and finds it very difficult to let go of her fantasies. Sarah is good at determining puzzles and working her way through them once she can conceptually see the problem; where she figures out how to choose the right door by determining that if one creature lies, the other always tells the truth, is classic evidence of intuitive thinking. She is easily distracted, but unafraid to change course in the labyrinth and choose another path. She is a creative thinker and problem solver, much to Jareth’s misfortune.
Introverted Sensing (Si): Underpinning all of her decisions is a sense of sentimentality; Sarah is nearly pulled off course when shown her old toys and room, out of a desire to return there, to safety and the securities of childhood. She refuses to let go of her imaginary friends even at the end of the story, despite choosing to grow up and put away her childish things. Sarah draws a lot of her imaginative concepts from books she has read and toys in her room; she also struggles to remember details of what she has read (“Oh, why can I never remember?”).
Extroverted Thinking (Te): In stressful situations, Sarah has a classic case of “state the problem.” She points out the logical impossibilities of every situation she finds herself in. She always takes the most direct method of problem solving (stealing Hoggle’s jewel purse to get him to help her, offering him her bracelet for his assistance, leaping to save Toby, smashing Jareth’s ballroom bubble with a chair). She can be frank and assertive when the situation calls for it.
Note: You can really see Jim Henson’s NeSi in this film, with its strange happenings and the fact that the entire story is a metaphor about female adolescence and maturity during a difficult time of life. The meandering narrative, the individual choices, the temptations all representative of deeper things, it’s much more than 80’s camp.
Introverted Intuition (Ni): “I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.” Jareth’s motivations are unclear at first and his intentions obscure, but riddled with metaphors. He is the one who sets up the labyrinth to test Sarah, translating all her fears, feelings, and emotional struggles into tests to determine her resolve. He takes her life and her essence and transforms it into an imaginative world that continually forces her to reject temptation and, in some ways, pulls her nearer to him. He foresees events and plans for them accordingly (“If she kisses you, Hoggle, I’ll make you a prince… of eternal stench…”).
Extroverted Thinking (Te): Ultimately, he wants to control Sarah and “rule” her, even though he shows no real interest in venturing far beyond his castle walls. His is a semi-complacent rule, driven through his need for mental stimulation (Ni). Jareth is very good at thinking on his feet and determining new plans of action whenever one of his traps fails. He frankly assesses creatures and Sarah and is not afraid to play hardball.
Introverted Feeling (Fi): It is not until nearly the end that Jareth reveals that he is in love with Sarah, and fascinated by her; but it is also a love built around his desire to possess and control her. He does not bring these emotions out until the last minute, in a desperate attempt to prevent her from destroying his fantasy world… or is it a trick? No one knows. Jareth does, but he’s not telling.
Extroverted Sensing (Se): Once in awhile, Jareth exerts himself enough to go outside the castle. Most of the time, he is more hands off than hands on… preferring to build traps and temptations from afar with his magic (intuition) rather than directly place himself physically in events (sensing).
Note: Ahh, the story that launched a thousand childhood fantasies about the goblin king. I mentioned loving this movie once to my uncle and he gave me a deadpan look and said dryly, “It’s not the movie you love. It’s David Bowie.” Yeah, Uncle Chris… it is. But there is no way in hell I’d admit it to your face.
Falling in love.
I’ll paint you mornings of gold.
I’ll spin you Valentine evenings.
Though we’re strangers ‘til now,
We’re choosing the path
Between the stars.
I’ll leave my love
Between the stars.
As the pain sweeps through,
Makes no sense for you.
Every thrill is gone.
Wasn’t too much fun at all,
But I’ll be there for you
As the world falls down.
- As the World Falls Down, David Bowie
It’s hard to beat Jareth the Goblin King’s style. He wants to show Sarah her dreams, distracting her from her mission. But is that his real aim?
Welcome to another edition of Throwback Thursday. With the recent passing of David Bowie, I figured it was only fair that I payed tribute to this extremely talented and beloved man. Although he was definitely admired as a singer and rockstar, and his music was superbly well written and popular, most people my age were introduced to Bowie through his movie career. And though he’s been in a fair amount of flicks, there’s one that so perfectly incapsulates who Bowie was, as well as tell an enchanting and fantastical tale. I’m of course talking about Jim Henson’s 1986 “Labyrinth”.
Fifteen year old Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) loves fairy-tales and fantasies, most notably a play called “The Labyrinth”. But she’s also noticeably frustrated with her life. One night she’s left to babysit her infant brother Toby, a task she obviously dreads. Her growing frustration causes her to rashly wish her brother to be taken away by goblins. To her horror, not only is Toby kidnapped, but she also must venture to the goblin kingdom if she wishes to save him. She meets the Goblin King Jareth (David Bowie), who tells her that the only way to save her brother is by solving the labyrinth which leads to his castle. If she fails to complete the labyrinth at a certain time, her brother will become a goblin forever. Along her journey Sarah encounters a handful of colorful characters, all that manage to assist her in anyway possible. But Jareth has his eyes fixated on Sarah, and is determined to keep her from reaching her brother, or ever returning to the real world again.
“Labyrinth” is a combination of many genres, most notably fantasy adventure. But at its core it’s a coming of age tale about a girl who learns to grow up. Sarah is childish and bitter at the start of the movie. She holds resentment towards her stepbrother, and only starts to mature during her journey in the labyrinth. The creatures that she encounters are not only necessary to her eventual escape, but they also teach her valuable lessons about appreciating others and seeing the worth in even the most insignificant of people.
As a kid I was enchanted by both the creepy yet undeniably beautiful world of the labyrinth and the goblin kingdom. It’s filled with so much wonder and intrigue, and every step can either lead to your victory or doom. I think as kids we find ourselves fascinated by these kinds of stories because they’re the type we were used to hearing and seeing at the time. “Labyrinth” is literally “Alice in Wonderland”, where the utter nonsense has been replaced by sheer unpredictability. This is even more incredible when you realize that the same man behind this movie, was also the creator of the Muppets. Kudos to Jim Henson and company for creating such amazing movies.
All the characters in the movie are great in their own way, especially all the creatures found in the labyrinth. Most notable is Hoggle, the dwarf that Sarah first meets prior to starting her adventure. He’s technically a “coward”, as he utterly fears Jareth and runs in terror when trouble is approaching. Yet he obviously cares for Sarah and slowly grows to become a courageous person. He naturally goes back and forth, never quite sure if he wants to help or not. But by the end he proves that he’s a good friend who will help Sarah in anyway possible. And it’s mainly through her friendship with Hoggle that Sarah learns to appreciate others for who they are.
Like many movies that we loved back in our childhood, we often grow up finding new and interesting things about it. In the case of “Labyrinth”, it’s been said that there’s an underlying sexual theme to it. This theory mainly comes in the form of Jareth and his unusual relationship with Sarah. However this actually doesn’t hurt the movie in anyway. If anything it actually ties into the theme of growing up.
Sarah is still holding on to her childhood way of living, but she’s at that age where she needs to grow up. Yet her dreams and fantasies are still very precious to her. When Jareth takes her brother away, he gives her several opportunities to forget about her responsibilities and simply embrace her dreams.
The relationship between Jareth and Sarah is important because it represents adulthood at its most provocative. In many ways Jareth is the physical manifestation of Sarah’s desires to be a women. He awakens her inner most desires and needs. But even though Sarah needs to start growing up, that doesn’t mean she’s ready to embark on such intense emotions just yet. She’s still after all fifteen and should step into adulthood gracefully, instead of plunging into a fantasy where she could possibly be trapped forever. The gifts that Jareth offers her are ones in which will enslave her, instead of empower her.
Speaking of Jareth, let’s talk about David Bowie and his role. Needless to say he’s the character that most people remember. He does all the things we expect from Bowie. He’s sexy, he dances, and of course, he sings…But what’s fascinating about Jareth is that he’s not really a villain. Although antagonistic from beginning to end, he’s also someone who genuinely seems to be smitten by Sarah. Everything that he does is in response to what Sarah wants or expects and therefore is very much a creation of her own imaginations. He can only remain in power if she were to stay with him and his kingdom. At the very end he offers her one more chance in giving up her search for her brother, telling her to love and fear him and he will be her slave. The proposition is both sickening yet saddening. It’s clear that Jareth can’t give Sarah a life that would be emotionally stable, even though it’s clear he wishes to make her happy. But he also proves that he’s fundamentally devoted to her in his own perverse way.
In regards to the final scene of the movie, I’ve noticed that some find it to be too happy and that it contradicts the message of the story. To that I respectfully disagree. The ending shows that though Sarah may have to grow up, she doesn’t have to completely forget about her dreams. As long as she’s in control of her desires, it’s not unhealthy for her to embrace her childhood every once and awhile. So when we see her and her friends together celebrating, it shows that she’s finally found that balance of being both a little girl and a young lady. And as far as Jareth goes, he rightfully looks outside from a window in his owl form, alone and silent. He can’t be a part of her life at this very moment… But one day when she’s ready…the owl will be allowed to enter.
It’s a shame that Bowie had to die so soon and so abruptly. To many it was a shock and truly sad event. What makes it even more tragic is that his death is just one of many other loses that have come to pass in recent time. But I don’t want to end this review on a sad note. Instead, I just want to express my gratitude to David Bowie for being an awesome star in my childhood. “Labyrinth” wouldn’t be the same without him.