…in which I talk about my love for Labyrinth. With footnotes.
Ever seen Jim Henson’s Labyrinth? If not, you need to rethink your life. Just sayin’.
I love this movie. Not only is the music fantastic (all songs by David Bowie, need I say more), but it has this girl:
and this guy:
There are a lot of reasons I adore it: it’s wildly imaginative; the music is brilliant; there are muppets, and Jennifer Connelly; and David Bowie sporting a mullet that would put MacGyver* to shame. But more than that, the strength of the story and characters, specifically Sarah, is what resonates with me.
Because it’s the story of a girl who says No. And wins.
Jareth, the sparkly, devious, goblin king, has stolen Sarah’s brother and whisked him away to the Labyrinth, giving Sarah 13 hours to solve said maze**. Or else he will turn Toby into a goblin. Rather than risk losing, he throws various wrenches into the works and eventually attempts to seduce her. Keep in mind this a family film*** so said seduction involves a ballroom and music and a gorgeous puffy, sparkly dress. And a dance with a handsome king. Watch the video, you’ll see what I mean. And yes this is possibly my favourite song in the film.
Up until this point, Sarah has been running around dressed like a teenager. Suddenly, she is dressed like a woman and in a very adult environment. And someone – a man not a boy – notices****. Keep in mind she’s fifteen. And if you watch her face (go ahead, watch the video again. You know you want to 😛 ), you can see she’s trying to figure out if she’s comfortable with this whole scenario. She’s at an age where you’re not a girl and not a woman, but something in between, and she’s trying to navigate her way through that in-between stage. Been there. Not easy.
So there she is, on the king’s arm. And he’s singing to her and treating her like one of his adult courtiers. (Take note of said adult courtiers in the vid) For a while she seems to go along with it, but eventually remembers what she’s looking for and breaks free from the illusion.
Fast forward to the end of the film. She’s practically won. And then Jareth appears with his final offer:
“Fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave.”
And her response?
“You have no power over me.”
In doing so, she comes into adulthood and acknowledges her sexuality on her own terms. Not on somebody else’s. She learns, early, how to say No to something that isn’t right.
And Jareth? He’s defeated. Her refusal is seen as a definite thing. It doesn’t covertly mean “yes”. “No” means “No”. End of story.
As it should be.
I promised you footnotes:
*And if you have no idea who MacGyver is, you need to rethink your life again. 80s/90s TV shows FTW.
**Technically a maze and a labyrinth aren’t the same thing, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment. Carry on.
****Personally, I think Jareth does actually fall in love with Sarah, but it’s moot because he still acts like a skeeze. That’s also a whole other blog post. Maybe.