Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Labyrinth [1986]

US puppet/live-action movie (1986). Henson Associates/Lucasfilm/TriStar. Pr Eric Rattray. Exec pr George Lucas. Dir Jim Henson. Spfx Richard Conway, George Gibbs. Creature design Brian Froud. Special acknowledgements Maurice Sendak, estate of M C Escher. Screenplay Terry Jones. Novelizations Labyrinth: A Storybook * (1986; vt Labyrinth: A Children's Storybook 1986 UK) by Louise Gikow and Labyrinth: The Novel * (1986) by A C H Smith. Starring David Bowie (Jareth, King of the Goblins), Jennifer Connelly (Sarah). 101 mins. Colour.

Fantasy-obsessed teenager Sarah, left by her Stepmother in charge of baby half-brother Toby, inadvertently uses the correct Magic Words to call on the King of the Goblins to take the child away forever. She changes her mind, and the King, Jareth, appears to her, offering her in place of Toby a crystal ball which will bring her all she dreams. As she is obdurate, he instead offers a Contract: she may have Toby if within the next Thirteen hours she can reach him through the Labyrinth that lies between here and the castle where he is held – otherwise Toby will become a goblin. In this Quest she eventually succeeds, though not before encountering Fairies that appear cute but are spiteful and biting, the untrustworthy Dwarf Hoggle, the friendly Monster Ludo and much else besides. In the end all that saves her and Toby from Jareth's duplicities is her ritual incantation of the words "You have no power over me", which enables her to perceive (> Perception) that he and his kingdom have been only Illusion.

L's many flaws obfuscate its undoubted virtues. Several dull songs are rendered as if rock videos; the effect of the visually and conceptually highly impressive Last Battle of wits, conducted in an Escheresque stairwell, is thereby destroyed. A further worm at L's core is Bowie's flat performance as Jareth; as Connelly's Sarah is a confident, positive evocation of virtue, the contest between Good and Evil becomes one-sided. In L the Devil does not have all the best songs; and, given many of the best lines, proves incapable of delivering them. [JG]

further reading: Labyrinth: The Photo Album * (photo coll 1986) by Rebecca Grand.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.