Labyrinth (1986) (part 1 of 4)

We start off staring into the blackness. And no, not into the badass blackness of space. It’s the kind of blackness that you get in an era before CGI really hit its stride. In a way, that’s what makes this movie so cool—pretty much everything is shot using practical effects, so there’s a weird sense of realism here.

When it comes to the opening credits, however, the only pizzazz we get is a computer-generated barn owl occasionally flapping on and off the screen. It’s okay though, because soon, “Underground”, the first of several awesome David Bowie songs, starts up.

The beginning credits fade, and we find ourselves in an idyllic park-like setting. Idyllic, because of the lovely green grass and lack of litter; park-like, because it’s, umm… a park. Our heroine Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) runs into the frame dressed in her best pseudo-medieval cosplay outfit.

Labyrinth (1986) (part 1 of 4)

She stares gravely into the camera and spouts some heroic lines about her journey “through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered”, to rescue “the child that you have stolen” from “the Goblin City”. At the end, she hesitates and seems to forget what to say, and we realize she’s just reciting lines from a play.

Sarah curses and checks her little book, mumbling that she can never remember the next line. By the way, I spent my childhood watching movies with magical-looking old books, which really made my Baby-Sitters Club paperbacks seem kind of pathetic.

Labyrinth (1986) (part 1 of 4)

Compared to this and the book from The NeverEnding Story, it’s no damn wonder I always felt like I was slumming it with the BSC.

Sarah’s play practice comes to an end as she realizes it’s already seven o’clock! Oh noes! She calls her sheepdog, Merlin, and the two of them run home through a sudden storm.

Sarah hikes her dress up to reveal that she’s got some very normal-looking jeans on underneath. Let’s just assume this is the filmmakers trying to introduce a bit of symbolism about Sarah’s real-life obligations always lingering beneath her fantasy world… instead of, like, the producers wanting to avoid a panty flash or something.

Interestingly, there’s no leash on Merlin, but he follows her without distraction or hesitation, which is yet another unrealistic expectation I picked up from movies. I also don’t think she’s got any poop pick-up bags hidden in those skirts of hers, so she’d better hope Merl’s not ready to drop a deuce, or else Sarah can look forward to some hellacious fines.

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Multi-Part Article: Labyrinth (1986)

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