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Persephone Movie Club: Labyrinth

What’s not to love about Labyrinth? It’s got Jim Henson creatures! Jennifer Connelly! David Bowie! And perhaps most importantly, David Bowie’s pants

Poster for Labyrinth, showing David Bowie as the Goblin King holding a crystal ball in which we can see Jennifer Connelly as SarahLabyrinth is the story of Sarah, a somewhat bratty teen girl who resents having to share her world with a stepmother who doesn’t understand her and a baby brother (Toby) who cries and needs to be babysat every weekend. Finally, fed up with it all, she tells Toby a story from her favorite book to play-act, also called Labyrinth, and much to her surprise, her brother is actually taken by the goblin king (Jareth) when she asks. She begs him to return Toby; she didn’t mean to really send him away, but Jareth tells her she can only have him back if she can get through the labyrinth to his palace on the other side of the Goblin City. Oh, and she only has 13 hours to do so, otherwise Toby will become a goblin and she’ll never see him again. Somewhat to Jareth’s surprise, Sarah accepts the challenge. She really does love her little brother.

The way through the labyrinth isn’t easy, of course. Things aren’t always what they seem, and Sarah starts out whining that the whole thing isn’t fair. The fairies bite, the walls seem to go on forever without turning, the creatures of the labyrinth move all the markers she tries to leave for herself. Along the way, she befriends some creatures; Hoggle, who fears punishment from Jareth and betrays her but comes back to help her in the end, Ludo, who she rescues from torture at the hands of other creatures, and Didymus, who was sworn to prevent anyone from crossing the bridge across the Bog of Eternal Stench without permission and joined Sarah after she realized she could simply ask his permission. After overcoming many setbacks and eventually fighting their way through the Goblin City, Sarah reaches the palace with only minutes to spare and then confronts Jareth in a totally awesome M.C. Escher-inspired room of stairs leading in all directions. Finally back home safe with Toby, she gives him the teddy bear she’d resented him playing with just hours before. She’s grown up.

What’s your favorite part of the movie? Have you ever wanted to send crying babies off to live with the Goblin King? (Noooo, of course I haven’t. Never.) How long do you think “Dance Magic Dance” will be stuck in your head after reading this? Any favorite gifs from the movie? (I’ll share mine in the comments.)

By [E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

25 replies on “Persephone Movie Club: Labyrinth”

I’m kinda freaking out now. Allow me to explain. I recently watched Labyrinth for the first time. I was intrigued because my daughter had a tee-shirt which she wears as a nightgown that depicts Sarah in a really cool piece of original art, by Karen Hallion in the style of Alphonse Mucha. I got the shirt at a thrift store because I thought she’d like it. It took me a while to figure out that this movie was the inspiration for the shirt. Anyhow — got the DVD from Netflix, watched, was suitably amazed. Today I looked at the review of the soundtrack on All Music Guide, where the film is described as a “variant on the Persephone story.” That’s just what I said to my wife. So that led me to Google “labyrinth persephone,” which in turn led me to discover this review and Persephone Magazine.

This may not seem remarkable to you yet but let me add the kickers: My daughter’s named Persephone (and I gather this site is named after a founder’s daughter of the same name) and what’s more we appear to have been watching the movie at the exact time this review was being posted.

Well, thanks for adding a little magic to my day. I’m attaching Karen Hallion’s fine artwork for your amusement.

Pan’s Labyrinth is about eight kagillion times darker. Also the focus is more on the aspects of her escaping into the stories because she needed a world where she was just a little bit more the arbiter of her own fate and where her actions were more meaningful. Ofelia is living a legit horrible life, the Sarah suffers from mild case of being a teenager

Wee Free Men has a stronger emphasis taking responsibility than on realizing that there is a difference between what you think you want and what you actually want. Tiffany did not have to enter the fay world to save her brother, she did it because she knew she should. Sarah is sucked into the labyrinth which is all but built to match her romantic ideas of adventure. The end of the film involves her confronting Jareth who is exasperated with her for not liking what he has done, because he was doing what she expected of him.

Ahh this movie is the BEST! Lines from this movie are still in heavy rotation in my vocab. The junk lady and the old goblin with the vulture thing on his head are my favorite goblins. I am serious when I say I want to model my wedding dress after Sarah’s masquerade dress, I mean that head piece thing is way cooler than a veil right?

You don’t understand how much I love this movie. When I was a kid, our video store run consisted of me leaving with either Labyrinth, Secret of Nimh, The Last Unicorn or The Goonies. Labyrinth was always in heavy rotation.

What’s funny is that there are parts of this movie that truly terrified me, but I would keep coming back for more. The things my parents let me watch as a kid is truly amazing.

LOVE the Last Unicorn. LOVE it so very much. The animation is so beautiful and terrifying at the same time. The Harpy and the Manticore, when all the unicorns come running, how hauntingly beautiful she was as a woman… Argh, want to leave work and go home to watch it.

I fucking love this movie. One year, a friend of mine was David Bowie of Labyrinth, complete with extra padding in the crotch of the stretch pants.

Anecdote time: I live in a really nice neighborhood in Brooklyn, that I stumbled into via the good graces of craigslist after years of living in terrible apartments with terrible roommates and terrible landlords  (there’s no way I could afford it without my weird situation, my rent is pricey for me but literally half of of what a room next door costs). Anyways, it also happens to be the neighborhood that Jennifer Connelly lives in. My hood is one of the few in NYC with  the originalish ye olde street layout, so they actually close off about 6 blocks worth of streets for trick-or-treating and everyone sits on their stoops with all their neighbors and hands out candy. There are kids from all over who Brooklyn come to do this. Last year, who comes to my stoop with her kid, but Jennifer freaking Connelly. The best part? The child is dressed as DAVID BOWIE. it was Ziggy Stardust Bowie and not Labyrinth Bowie, so it took all my restraint to not ask her about Labyrinth, which I’m sure she does not want to talk about since she’s a serious actress now. Still awesome! (No Paul Bettany, but you can’t have it all).

Labyrinth is my very favorite movie in the entire world. I have ever line memorized.

My Labyrinth TruFax:

In 8th grade my best friend and I watched this movie every day after school the entire year. Not even joking. We had to switch between our houses because our families wanted us to die.

I had a DVD player once that would randomly put on subtitles and there’s a part with the creatures after Ludo is set free where one of the biters says, “Oh my aching sushi!” This has become a common saying among select of my friends. Also: “Your mother is a friggin aardvark!”

One day at my last job the director actually noticed that I never say ‘hello’ to people. I always say ‘ello’. Nobody else has ever noticed this. He didn’t know why I said it. But I told him he it was close enough.

My bank allows people to name their accounts creatively. My checking account is ‘The Bog of Eternal Stench’.

I remember as a girl feeling like I should not be looking at IT. I’m sure I’m not alone in the fact that David Bowie’s pants were part of my sexual awakening.

I had a major geek moment when I noticed Gates McFadden (Dr Crusher on Star Trek: TNG) in a making of  documentary. It wasn’t under her name so for years I thought she had a twin sister.

Okay I should stop now. I’m so excited this is the movie here!

GET THEE TO THE NETFLIX! Shit, even Lexie’s seen most of it. She planted herself in my lap while I was watching it and then subjected me to a never-ending stream of questions. “What’s that? Are they going to fall in the water?I don’t think they want to fall in the water! Where are they going? Are they crossing the bridge? What’s his name?”

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