“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered I have fought my way here…” to the 30th anniversary of the beloved fantasy film. How has it been 30 years?!? This is one of my all-time favorite films. I still remember watching it for the very first time with friends soon after its home release. It was also the most borrowed video in my grandmother’s vast video collection. It was the one video my sister and I never disagreed on. And to see this beloved classic reach this milestone and be so wildly celebrated, brings joy to my heart.
Just in case you live under a rock, Labyrinth is a fantasy adventure about a teenage girl’s journey to rescue her baby brother from the Goblin King before it is too late. Of course Jareth, The Goblin King, only took Sarah’s brother because he was in love with her. In Jareth’s own words, he was just looking for someone to “fear me, love me, do as I say”. Sarah knows what is right though, and journeys to save her brother from becoming a goblin; meeting lots of interesting characters and friends on the way.
The super-imaginative Jim Henson helped create the world of Labyrinth. He also directed the film. As a kid, I was familiar with Henson from the Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and even The Dark Crystal (which I saw and liked without fully understanding it). But for me, Labyrinth was different. Maybe it was the human female lead. Maybe it was the music. Maybe it was the incomparable David Bowe in those tight pants “juggling” crystal balls. I could not get enough of this movie
The road to this fantasy classic was not easy though. In a time when theatrical releases were EVERYTHING; it failed to perform-not even covering the production costs. It is said that Henson took the “failure” hard, considering it was his direction that doomed the film. But in 1986 when the film was released, the home video market was just starting to come into its own. Once on VHS, word was able to slowly spread about how incredible this movie was. The fandom began to grow until it became an unstoppable boulder. I consider it to be the 80’s answer to the Wizard of Oz; I still pull it out a couple times a year.
That brings us to this 30th anniversary. As a special treat for all the die-hard fans, Labyrinth was released back to select theaters for just two days-September 11th and 14th. I knew I had to get tickets for one of these showings. They were reasonably priced and located, and I was able to go without the hassle of heading into the city. I was so excited to be able to see it run on a full sized screen, with awesome surround sound in a crowd of equally excited fans of all ages. The special showing also included a short documentary on the making of Labyrinth, which included some great behind the scenes glimpses. And then the movie began. Right from the opening chords, you could tell how excited the audience was: clapping, singing and quoting along with the entire thing.
I hope you join with me in celebrating this classic fantasy film. Find your own way to pay homage to your love: Dress up in your backyard and practice quoting “For my will is as strong, my kingdom as great”. Learn how to juggle crystal balls (yes I have done this). Sing at the top of your lungs “Magic Dance” while jumping around. Or just howl to see if you can make friends with rocks. Ludo, Didymus, Hoggle, Sarah, and Jareth should all continue to inspire us and hold a place in our lives. And if, during the course of your celebration, you come across a little worm with a blue tuft hair, be sure to say ‘Ello.