Labyrinth: Anniversary Edition Jim Henson

Labyrinth: Anniversary Edition Jim Henson
Having seen Labyrinth 20 years ago, watching it again leaves me with one question: Did Bowie’s "package” really need to be so flagrant? Following up 1982’s The Dark Crystal seemed like an impossible task for Jim Henson and as Labyrinth shows, it was. Henson once again eschewed the light-hearted feel of The Muppets for something a little darker but Labyrinth pales in comparison to its predecessor, both technically and in storytelling. It’s a much simpler tale: while babysitting her no-good baby brother Toby, Sarah (Jennifer Connolly) wishes goblins would take him. Some uncanny flashes occur and poof, little Toby’s in the hands of Jareth the Goblin King (a ridiculous looking Bowie). To save him, she must enter the Goblin City and retrieve the toddler before he’s transformed into a goblin. The story isn’t a bad one but the journey is plagued with all sorts of acting histrionics, bad musical bits and a quixotically romantic connection between Sarah and Jareth, which feels inappropriately creepy. Plus, the ending is hardly fulfilling; he has no power over her? C’mon! Thankfully conceptual designer Brian Froud takes on commentary duties, detailing the inspiration and intentions for his vision, like the complex makeup for Bowie’s role, which was part Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, part Kabuki theatre, part pop star, etc. He definitely enhances the viewing experience, explaining his reasons for the many questionable choices — though he admits to believing in fairies so really, how much of what he says can you believe? Interesting note: after five years on The Dark Crystal, he and Henson’s crew took another three years for Labyrinth, and his son Toby played the baby. "Inside the Labyrinth” is a previously released and extremely dated "making of” featurette that shows everything from Bowie in the studio recording the soundtrack to Henson riding a bike on set. "Kingdom of Characters” and "The Quest for Goblin City,” however, are both brand new. The former features interviews with the puppeteers, as well as executive producer George Lucas, and centres on the difficulties that came with characters like the giant Ludo, who was part human, part puppet. The latter recycles some of Froud’s commentary for how he conceived the model, emphasising the importance of the script by Monty Python’s Terry Jones, which is captured best by Henson’s son, Brian: "I think he needed a bit of the absurd back.” Well, he certainly achieved that. (Sony)