The year was 1986. I was in 11th grade and completely obsessed. When other girls were swooning over Jon Bon Jovi and Michael J Fox, I only had eyes for David Bowie.
I celebrated his birthday every year by dressing in my version of a tux, minus the jacket. Long before there was a satellite dish attached to the side of every home in the neighborhood, my parents had “First Choice” – one of only two “pay TV” channels. I watched the “Serious Moonlight” concert every single time it was broadcast and knew every note by heart (still do).
I had a group of friends who LOVED Duran Duran. So much so that each of them was nicknamed after one of the members of the band. After they learned of my preoccupation with the “Thin White Duke”, they started calling me “David”. I loved it!
Then, something happened that caused my brain to implode. Worlds collided in the best way possible. Jim Henson had teamed up with Brian Froud once again for a film called “Labyrinth”, starring… DAVID BOWIE! Let the fawning and swooning commence!
David Bowie plays Jareth, the Goblin King. He was apparently their first choice from the beginning and thankfully he also loved the idea, so the film was written with him in mind.
It’s a magical, musical adventure, combining themes from Alice in Wonderland with The Wizard of Oz and yet completely stands out as an original creation. The lead character, Sarah is also obsessed, but in her case it is with a book called “Labyrinth”. She carries it with her and often acts out the story in the park.
One night, after being “told” to babysit, she becomes frustrated with her baby brother and summons the Goblins. They do as she asks, taking Toby to the center of the Labyrinth – the home of Jareth, the Goblin King. Immediately regretting her actions, Sarah makes the journey into this world that is strange and at the same time familiar. She is told she has but 13 hours to solve the Labyrinth and save her baby brother. But when you’re in Jareth’s world, you play by Jareth’s rules and as Sarah is fond of saying, “It’s not fair!”.
Jim Henson spent more than two years developing the concept behind Labyrinth and put together a dream team to bring it to reality. Conceptual artist – Brian Froud, screenwriter – Terry Jones, executive producer – George Lucas, and David Bowie, who not only starred as Jareth the Goblin King but wrote and performed the 5 original songs for the film.
“Toby” was played by Brian and Wendy Froud’s son, also named Toby. Another interesting tidbit is that Cheryl McFadden (best known for her role as Dr. Crusher in Star Trek, TNG) was hired to do choreography.
No matter how many times I watch this, I still delight in the characters, the music, the world that Jim Henson and his team created. Whenever anyone asks me to name my top 5 favorite films, this remains among them and I can’t imagine a list without it.