Updated: Apr 1
Today’s post will highlight one of my favourite stories, of all time. For those of you who know me personally, you’ll know that my all-time favourite film is Labyrinth. You might have already gotten sick of me talking about it non-stop for the past seven years…well suck it up, because I’m doing this for those who don’t know me.
So, I’m going to bore you all with a rambling rant on what makes Labyrinth so great! Also, be warned, this is a TDLR post, for those of you who don't like to read, I'm sorry, but there is no short version here.
Oh, and one more thing this post contains spoilers, so if you want to watch the film, look away now!
The Muppets Have Gone Crazy!
Let’s start with what the film is about. It follows a young teenage girl, called Sarah, who felt like her life was unfair, to the point where she wished away her half-brother to the goblins. Her wish comes true, and because she regrets her decision, she tries to bargain with the Goblin King to get him back. Of course, being the King of the Goblins, he refuses, but offers Sarah a challenge, to win her brother back.
Sarah accepts, and has to travel the labyrinth that surrounds the Goblin City, and the castle. Along the way, she picks up three unlikely friends, and with their help manages to win her brother from the goblins and their King.
Now that you know what it’s about, here’s a bit about the making of the film itself. It was the very first of its kind, and it was pretty difficult to accomplish, especially for the actors, because they had to act with puppets!
That’s right, nearly the entire cast of Labyrinth were puppets. The only human (or live creatures) that graced the screen were Sarah, the Goblin King, Merlin (the dog) and Hoggle. Ok, Hoggle is a different story, because he’s half puppet, half human. That’s because, the actress Shari Weiser was literally Hoggle’s body, while his head was a robotic puppet, controlled by Brian Henson.
What's So Good About The Film?
Alright, it’s old, it has scary puppets, it’s not that great in terms of quality, so it makes sense kids would be scared of the film, but what makes it great is the story behind it, especially if you’re a young girl, who’s on the cusp of womanhood. A lot of the time, a female lead is represented as a damsel in distress or an already badass woman, who can kick the bad guys to the curb, but there isn’t a lot that shows you how that princess turns into a queen, and I don’t mean she gets there because of a guy…in the romantic sense…hang on…
So, the general consensus is that the film is a “coming of age” kind of film, and it’s basically a twisted version of Alice In Wonderland, which is true, but instead of facing off an evil queen, she faces off with an evil king. In this sense, she’s basically turning down the temptation of remaining a spoilt princess, in favour of growing up and being a woman, in charge of her own destiny.
Now, what I like about this film is not only the message it gives to young girls, which basically tells young girls that they can be their own heroes, even when you like being feminine, but it’s also the fantasy elements in it. A lot of the time, the fantasy realm is kiddie-fied because otherwise the story could be too scary for the kids. This takes the original tales of fairies and uses it as a plot point.
Here Comes The Origin Stories!
Ok, so here are the examples I found in the film that point back to the original stories of fairies and fairy creatures. The first one is the most obvious one, and that’s the deal Sarah made with the Goblin King. Making a deal with a fairy or Fae creature is never a good idea, especially if you give them lots of loopholes. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that the Goblin King took advantage of a few major loopholes Sarah wasn’t aware of.
The deal was that if she could make it to the castle beyond the goblin city in 13 hours, she would get her brother back, and go home. Now, in the film, you’ll notice, he sped up her runtime, so instead of having 13 hours, she now had 11. Ok, so I’m all for the “she did it in 11 hours, so technically she didn’t have to rush at the end”, but remember this is the fairy world, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s their world, and their rules. So, if the Goblin King says he shaved two hours, he shaved two hours, and there’s the major loophole he exploited, all because she insulted his labyrinth.
Another loophole he exploited, was the fact that he was actively slowing her down. After all, the deal was, if she could make it, not when. So, it makes sense he would try to interfere with her run…in a twisted sort of way. If Sarah hadn’t been too caught up in the wonder and magic of it all, she would have probably seen the errors of the deal she’d made. So, when it was struck, she could have forbidden the Goblin King from interfering, or ensured that she would somehow make it to the castle hours in advanced, or even have him help her through the labyrinth, if she chose the right words.
Of course, making deals, and wording those deals aren’t the only thing the Fae and fairy are known for. These creatures, according to lore, are mischievous and will do anything to entertain themselves, even to the point of making a human’s life miserable. The first instance of this, is when the fairy bites Sarah’s finger. In modern stories, fairies are “nice” creatures who “grant wishes”, but as Hoggle says, “Show’s what you know!”. In the original tales, they are anything but nice. In fact, they can be downright evil if given the chance. So, Sarah having her finger bitten, should really be considered a love bite, because that is the least, they could do to a human.
The last example I could find, is in the constant reminder the labyrinth creatures tell Sarah “Don’t take anything for granted.”. It’s a message we tell our friends, family, even strangers, when the opportunity arises. The fact that this is repeated several times should ring especially true, since Sarah is facing a magic as old as civilisation itself (if we’re to believe that this magic actually exists). In the old fairy stories, ANY Fae creature should never be trusted, and I mean NEVER!
They are cunning, they are smart, and they will do anything to get what they want, and if they lose, they will not take that loss lying down. So, when the old crone at the garbage dump lost her hold on Sarah, she literally tore down the place, and I’m guessing it wasn’t to help set her free. In fact, from what I can tell, she was trying to bury Sarah in the massive pile of junk. You can also see that in the peach dream, all the partygoers are leering at Sarah, and mocking her, when she breaks free of the Goblin King, as if they were bullies, because they lost out on keeping her there in the dream. You can also bet that since the Goblin King lost, he would have something in store for her and his citizens, even if the movie has ended.
The Fairy Tale Never Just Ends
What I like about this film is that it doesn’t have a closed ending. I mean, for a child yes, it has ended, because Sarah won back her brother, and returned home, but for us adults, who know otherwise, the story isn’t done. Now, yes, I know it’s probably just those of us who really want to see Sarah and the Goblin King get together, but you have to admit, that even if you’re not a shipper of the “Sareth”(...or "Jarah"?) ship, the fact that the Goblin King is not completely defeated is an open ending.
If we are to have this book closed once and for all, either the Goblin King needs to die, or he has to have a happy ending. Now, in my case, I see him have a happy ending…particularly with Sarah…since I do ship them. That is not my point, though. What I’m trying to say is that if we want to see the film end, either it needs a sequel, or you can end it through fanfiction. Now this is where it gets a bit complicated.
I wouldn’t mind a sequel, but it must be done properly. Of course, that means bringing in the original characters, and reinventing the aesthetics of the film, to fit modern audience expectations. However, considering the fact that the Goblin King’s actor will no longer be making any more appearances, I think it’s safe to say we can rule out a sequel. Ok, so if not a sequel, a remake? Uh…that’s ok…but DO NOT MESS WITH THE INTEGRITY OF THE FILM. What I mean to say is, if you’re going to do a remake, do so at your own risk. It’s always a hit and miss when it comes to remakes, and if your plot lacks the same magic and wonder this one had, then you are definitely going to miss…bit time.
The only other option I can think of, to close out this story completely, is by reading fanfictions, and I don’t mean the ones with plots that play around with the idea that Sarah misses the Goblin King, or the ones where the Goblin King is actively trying to get into Sarah’s pants. The ones that should be read, the ones with the right character developments, in my opinion, are the ones where they are both thrust into a situation they didn’t ask for, and actually bond over it, because if you think about it, and I mean really think about it, neither of them really have any feelings for each other. In fact, I’d say that the whole “fear me, love me, do as I say,” schtick was a ploy to get her to abandon her brother. Ergo, they would have had nothing to do with each other after she won.
Now, there could be a small ounce of feeling on both ends, like a little spark at the back of their minds. For example, she could have noticed his gentleness in the ballroom, or he could have been attracted to her fiery spirit, when they had that little tête-à-tête in the tunnel, but nothing more than a passing thought. So, if you really want to go with a “he was madly in love with her” kind of route, you’re going to need to have a very well-thought-out background, for it to make sense, because if it was just from that run alone, then you might as well throw them in a room with nothing but a big ole bed, and let them have at it. A good fanfiction will close the book for you, and I believe I’ve found some really good ones that I could play with, if I decided to.
I won’t tell you what they are, at least not today, because this would be one helluva post, and it’s already long enough as it is. So, for now, I’m going to get you guys to do some digging. Why don’t you guys try to find the original telling of every fairy tale you know. So, the original Cinderella, the story of Sleeping Beauty (which in the original tale is called Sun, Moon and Talia), the original story of Snow White. While you’re at it, look up the lore on fairies and the Fae. You’ll find that loads of the things I’ve said here are true (or as true as the lore goes), and then some.
Well, that’s it from me today. I hope you enjoyed this little rant I’ve gone on, and I hope you guys have learned something interesting. If you haven’t watched Labyrinth yet, I highly recommend that you do. It’s a great film, and if you have any kids, especially girls, I suggest you get them to watch it. It’ll teach them the importance of being compassionate, while still being your own hero. Trust me, it got me through a very tough time growing up, and I feel like I’m the better for it. Anyway, I’ll see you guys soon!