Sarah is the main character of Labyrinth. She seems to be an average American girl, but we don't know
much about her. Not even her true age, her last name ("Williams") is never actually mentioned, and we
only get a few minutes to know her before she's thrown into the Labyrinth. Really, they only tell
us the traits that are directly relevant to the plot and its resolution (and even the connections there are
Sarah looks about 18 years old but is supposed to be 15-16. Her stepmother says that should "have dates at her age,"
but Sarah doesn't have a boyfriend (despite being beautiful), because she spends her time daydreaming. She has to
because her real life blows. Her father is a complete tool with no personality, she has a strained relationship with her stepmother,
and her baby brother is a burden on everyone. No one understands her or seems interested, so she relies on her imagination
to make life bearable, and her room is full of toys and collectibles from her childhood. She's supposed to
be in the transitional phase between child and teenager, having to decide which world she would rather live in.
Her fantasy world is clearly superior and the problems
with her real life are never addressed. This is why Labyrinth does not really work as a movie
with a moral, and why Sarah's ultimate decision makes no sense. But, moving on...
Sarah is hung up on her biological mother, "Linda." Linda is an actor who lives
independently (maybe on the road) performing
in plays and enjoying the carefree, artistic life that Sarah wants for herself. So Sarah plays make-believe, dressing
in costume and pretending that she can bring these fantasies to life. It's escapism, what people
do for a measure of happiness when
their lives are terrible. (In a striking parallel, this is what "Labyrinth" is all about and
how it serves people in our world, too. Accidental fourth wall thing, that.)
Sarah Meets Plot
We only get to experience an opening scene in Sarah's real life. She's in the park practicing lines from a play
called "The Labyrinth." She's all alone (except for her dog, an Owl, and ninety people on the film crew) and it's
not clear if
she's in a real play or just doing this for fun. Then she has to go home in the rain, face her
stepmother, and get sentenced to babysitting Toby.
Enter Jareth (David Bowie), the man of Sarah's dreams and the solution to all her problems. He'll take Toby away, give her
a magic crystal (very possibly,
a portal to make all her wishes come true), and the adventure of a lifetime in a fully actualized fantasy world. But Sarah doesn't know how to process this. Maybe she's kind of dumb,
or it's all too much too fast? Most people would be ecstatic to find David Bowie '86 in their house, especially in a
bedroom with bed adjacent. We'd say it's time to get busy and freaky in that order, but Sarah
interprets all of these things as "bad" and sees Jareth as her opponent.
Sarah is obviously a good person and wants to do the right thing, but her motivations otherwise are a mystery.
She hates her real life, gets a taste of something much better, then decides to go back to her real life.
We try to give her the benefit of the doubt, like she's just confused about
everything because she's at a tumultuous time in adolescence. But it doesn't help that the script gives her no opportunity
to share these ideas with the audience. Once in the Labyrinth, she never mentions her real life or her parents
or reflects on her situation, so she's
shallow and not the most sympathetic lead.
As much as about Jareth, she's uncertain about Toby. At first she sees him as
exactly what he is: an annoying, wailing infant that even his parents don't want to take care of. Then she
expresses concern with one of the strangest lines in the movie, Re: Toby's being kidnapped by the goblins:
"He must be so scared."
Why would he be scared? He wouldn't know what "kidnapping" is, and as a baby he wouldn't even know that anything
strange was happening. And even if he was afraid, he would be what? Crying? That was all he ever did at
home anyway. We think her real motivation with Toby is to find him so that she
doesn't get in trouble with her parents for losing him. (How the hell would she explain it?) After all, this is what
teenagers are most concerned about: Getting busted.
Sarah was played by Jennifer Connelly. She's talented and also beautiful - a genuine, earthy
beauty with a
fairy-tale quality. Like someone who doesn't quite belong in the ordinary world and would make
a better princess than babysitter. Her performance is very natural and goes without a hitch; we don't hear a bad
read from her in this whole movie. Her having less experience may have been an advantage, because
she worked well with the puppet characters. Perhaps she didn't have to make as much mental transition from live
as Bowie did. She also had a lot of quieter scenes with fewer characters and less distraction, which is conducive to
better takes. (Bowie's scenes were often crowded, and some very complex. He had to work with
swarms of goblin puppets that didn't even have people in them.)
At any rate, it's no wonder she's gone on to such
success. She was one of those young actors that just have the right instincts, and you can feel it in this film.
The Hotness of Jennifer
Male fans of Labyrinth often find Jennifer very hot.
She was only 14-15 at the time, but had this amazing, combined look of grown-up and childlike. Supposedly she's only 5'7" (?) but she seems extra tall, like leggy and well-proportioned.
Probably why she got modeling gigs early on. She also has sexy eyebrows, beautiful-color eyes (like hazely green)
and just an overall unique look that is captivating.
It's a good thing she's in this movie, cuz she balances out the hotness of David Bowie and gives the male
viewers something to froth about, so it's not a total Chick Flick.
Sarah is star-crossed with Jareth, the compelling and stylish Goblin King. He's a goblin in name only, appearing as
a dashing, leather-wrapped Englishman who can transport himself between the Ordinary World (Sarah's) and The
Underground. That's his own, magical kingdom where he seems to have absolute power, and he's booked as the villain of this
story. But "Labyrinth" is far more wonderfully convoluted than that.
It turns out that Jareth is in love with Sarah and has "given her certain powers." One of these is to make wishes that he's apparently obligated to obey. (This is a special deal. The Love-Power relationship thang between Jareth and Sarah is
complicated yo.) Jareth is very taken with Sarah and likes to follow her around and stake out her house. We think he was
just waiting for her to use the wishing power, because he swoops in as soon as she wishes for the goblins to take Toby away, and
sets her up to solve the Labyrinth.
Because the Labyrinth is the Goblin King's creation, Jareth is like the spirit and driving force of this movie. He's way
more interesting than Sarah.
At the end of this story, Jareth admits in his roundabout way that he loves Sarah and has done everything in his power
to satisfy her - by making the Underground into her dreamworld, and even that he's been acting like a villain
just to fulfill that role in the fantasy. He wants her to love him and join him, marry him (or the goblin
equivalent - some kind of elope thing with horns?), or at least be his GF. Ideally his LTR, but failing that
some kind of possibly-sexual BFF or straight-up FWB. The film isn't specific, but he does offer her every happiness, saying that he will "be her slave."
He's an intense, passionate guy and pretty straightforward about this arrangement (he's calculating, but not a
liar). His definition of Love includes elements of control and possession, but nobody's perfect. For enabling all of your
dreams to come true, this is a sweet deal that
Sarah should jump on, but she declines for reasons that no one understands.
Jareth actually considers Sarah "cruel," and ungrateful for all he's done. He's worked hard to keep her fantasy world
alive, and she doesn't appreciate it. "Labyrinth" is so cool because it flips the Hero/Villain roles this way, and
you're not sure who to feel for when it's over.
The Hotness of David
Jareth is supposed to be Sarah's Fantasy Guy, someone she would want to date or love, who would be her introduction to romantic relationships. So they designed Jareth with the qualities that would be most
attractive to a younger girl like her.
Naturally, the casting went straight for the most sexually-desirable rock star: Super-handsome, musician-gone-actor David Bowie. He was given rein to make Jareth his own, and infused
all of his
general appeal and chick-magnetism to tremendous effect. They intended to make a dreamy guy, but they ended up with
an irresistible, fantasy superhunk sexbeast that most girls (regardless of age) become hopelessly crushed on.
Jareth's continued popularity suggests that maybe girls' tastes don't change much throughout their lives.
The fan community (and apparently much of the non-fan YouTube Community) is full of adult women who still find Jareth
hot even 25 years later. Or maybe he just got his hooks in us at a certain age and now we're stuck on him.
Bowie has that effect on people, and we think the draw of Jareth is something inherent to David. And not just his beautifully-carved face or his
nicely-carved body that shows like a champ in some of the clingier wardrobe. Bowie has an energy about him,
the glow of performance art, or maybe it's something more hidden that attracts people.
He has an inner spark that radiates, talented in so many different fields, and with a total uniqueness
that pulls and fascinates. It's Bowie Magic, and then they draped it in ripply leather and glittering black and gave
it Jareth's perfect, bad boy haughtiness. And some tasty, tight pants.
For fangirls, it's ShangriLa. That's why we made:
Jareth's Section !
(It might just be more Jareth than you can handle.)
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