January 10, 2016 was the day that the world seemed to start turning lopsided on its axis even though it was a regular day. The sun rose, the old folks read their paper, and I made my way to school, but it was the day the world lost one of it’s brightest stars, David Bowie, leaving it a little darker. After a long and secret battle with liver cancer the singer passed away early that morning surrounded by his loving family. Millions were left devastated as the man who sung the songs that were stuck in their heads for years passed away.
It was the night I found out he passed away that I found myself singing ‘Dance Magic’ with my sister, I knew there was only one thing left to do. In a short remembrance of Bowie, I decided to watch one of my favorite childhood movies, The Labyrinth. Of all of Bowie’s quirky and colorful rolls ranging from The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976), The Hunger (1983), James Bond’s A View To Kill (1985), Absolute Beginning (1986), and many other films between and after, The Labyrinth still stands as one of his most beloved.
The films kicks off with the protagonist, Sarah, played by Jennifer Connelly whose forced to babysit her baby brother by her wicked stepmother so her. The foreshadowing in the movie is immediate as she acts out a scene from her favorite book, The Labyrinth, in her room filled with knickknacks and trinkets. The screen pauses on a small brown haired girl I’m a white gown spinning on a music carousel. Of course she’s interrupted by her brothers inconsolable crying, she enters the room still enacted the scene from the book calling on the Goblin King asking him to take away her little brother while throwing him around the room in an almost abusive manner.
The crying stops as she steps from the room, and so she does a double take only to find that her brother is in fact gone. Bowie, Jareth The Goblin King, appears in the window with a flash of lighting, fully clothed in grey cotton leggings and a cape and somehow making the get-up seem inconspicuous. He and his goblin accomplices, all made in Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, confirm that they have taken her brother as she asked, but she can get him back only if she solves his mass and ever changing labyrinth.
Sarah struggles through the twists and turns, as Jareth sits in his castle at the center of the maze singing and dancing with his band of puppets. He makes his appearances periodically through the film making sure the viewer thinks he knows more than everyone else knows, keeping you on the edge of your seat, and the movies characters lost. Jareth’s magic power is to create orbs with just his hands, but the orbs enable him to see / create merely anything he pleases, this allows him to show Sarah her dreams. He tries to give it to Sarah as a token of her dreams as she’s lost in a world of fantasy whether she’s in or out of the labyrinth. The film is so play-like in the aspects of its script and visual motifs, but the two star actors pull all of the puppets, props, and dry humor together to make it believable.
In the end, Sarah beats the maze and gets her brother back. Jareth falls in love with Sarah, but she obstructs his affection and returns to her normal life. When she awakens the next morning it feels as though it could have just been a dream. For The Goblin King, it’s assumable that he remained the same in the film that leaves you assuming the ends to all of its ties. David Bowie who immersed himself in the role say Jareth yearns for a different life, probably somewhere down in Soho according to rock legend, his growing love for Sarah revealed his angst and discontent, but the film leaves you hanging.
Bowie preserved the same electric presence as he showed in The Labyrinth through the his entire career until the day he died. He was planning on recording a follow up album to his most recent album, Blackstar. Although some do believe that Blackstar was a farewell to his fans, in his song Lazarus, he sings “Look up here, I’m in Heaven” and closes with “Oh I’ll be free, just like that bluebird, Oh I’ll be free”. There’s no doubt that Bowie’s art will live through generations to come, he will continue to stand as a beacon of hope for all of the misfits although his time has passed.