The Great Family Film Poll: Labyrinth

Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie are the human stars of the trippy, wonderful Labyrinth.
Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie are the human stars of the trippy, wonderful Labyrinth.

A trippy, beautiful and wild film that serves as a timeless ode to Jim Henson's boundless imagination, Labyrinth is my favourite kids' film of all time. It's a bizarre tale set in an amazing fantasy world created with the film-maker's trademark fusion of astounding puppetry and human talent.

A young Jennifer Connelly stars as Sarah, a dreamy teen angry at being left to look after her baby brother while her parents go out. Wishing he be taken away, she's mortified when he is - by an alternate dimension Goblin King played by David Bowie. Thus she must embark on an adventure into his fantastical land to rescue the infant, meeting weird and wonderful creatures along the way.

Some of them - Hoggle and Ludo in particular - are a big part of why this film is so beloved. That they are physical beings moving about in a very tactile world makes them incomparably more real and lovable than CGI creations in a CGI world.

There's a truly 80s feel to the style of fantasy Labyrinth exhibits, helped in no small part by the classic soundtrack.

The funky synth score work by Trevor Jones is great, but the original songs by Bowie - especially Underground and Magic Dance - are iconic.

For some children, Labyrinth may be quite a scary film; I remember the hallucination sequence freaking me right out when I was a youngster myself. Others may recall Bowie's notable bulge disturbing them.

It's hard to overstate the weirdness of the film, partly written by Monty Python's Terry Jones and executive produced by George Lucas. It may be their attempt at fairytale grandeur like the classics seen in Sarah's bedroom (Alice in Wonderland, Where the Wild Things Are, The Wizard of Oz).

But the very contemporary (for the time) spin they gave it, the funkiness rock god Bowie imbued it with and the way the direction emphasises the craftsmanship of Henson's Creature Shop make Labyrinth a unique oddity that never ceases to impress.

- Daniel Rutledge, Flicks.co.nz contributor

- NZ Herald

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