Labyrinth

Film

Before she was an Oscar winner and sex symbol for the Hubert Selby Jr. set, Jennifer Connelly was a 16-year-old ingénue starring opposite Kabuki-style, feathered-hair-metal goblin king David Bowie in Muppet master Jim Henson’s 1986 one-of-a-kind fantasy flick. (Not to be confused with the 1985 Legend, starring Tom Cruise opposite Tim Curry wearing horns as the devil! Know your ’80s fantasy movies, people! Bowie, not Curry. Goblin, no horns. Teenage pre-hottie, not cackling pre-Scientology dwarf.) Anyway, this restored new print is a loony artifact from the pre-CG era when the rights to Lord of the Rings were apparently still tied up. (Henson uses puppets instead of computers, of course.) It’s a fairy-tale take on pubescence, as reluctant babysitter Connelly rashly wishes her wee crying brother would be taken by goblins—which naturally occurs. To retrieve the infant requires various tests and transformations in a journey through a Brothers Grimm carnival, with Sendak and Escher booths just off the midway. (The script was written by Monty Python’s erudite medievalist Terry Jones.) Connelly must also endure the amorous attentions (and songs) of Bowie—and, yes, there’s some sexual subtext as Connelly nears womanhood. (For girls who grew up in the ’80s, being transported in a soap bubble to a masked ball where Bowie serenades you with the synth-pop ballad “As the World Falls Down”—overdue for a karaoke revival, by the way—might seem the height of romance; now grown, those same girls know that most marriages to goblins end in divorce. Sad but true.) Another enduring oddity of the film: Though Connelly (pictured) now looks quite different, Bowie seems eerily unchanged after 19 years. Because goblin kings never age. You decide whether the same holds true for the film. (PG)

 
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