The Videos !



Two videos were made for Labyrinth, following the intended singles for the soundtrack. "Dance Magic" was trotted out on the airwaves, but As the World Falls Down and Underground got the Goblin King's royal treatment: Full videos that even featured characters from the movie. They're both awesome and have that inimitable 1980s style of video, alternating time and place and suggesting weird narratives that can make sense if you concentrate enough.

Back in '86-'87, we never knew that these existed and we never heard any of the singles on the radio. Dunno how we missed all of it, but it's ok. We can catch-up now because the videos were released to DVD:

The Best of Bowie!

This is basically the only way to see them, along with tons of other great Bowie videos. Definitely pick this thing up.










As the World Falls Down

This one wasn't released for public play on MTV. They went to the trouble of filming it with care and attention, making it relevant to the movie and properly weird as a classic 80s video, and then never aired it. No one seems to know why it was slated and then cancelled, but this was a waste of money that sat in the can for sixteen years.
Watching this video now is odd and fascinating. Just knowing that you're witnessing something that's been buried for so long and that was intended for a totally different audience - another generation from another time. Or maybe you were supposed to be the audience, but the right intersection of spacetime and causality never happened, so now our reality is out of synch and we're trying to correct it by watching the video too late. It's like one of those Star Trek eps where the time fabric has ruptured. Not the ones where the plotline keeps repeating, but the other kind where only one character is aware of the problem and has to fix it, and no one else believes him or knows what he's talking about?



The Video

This is the love song for Jareth and Sarah, a beautiful sidetrack from Labyrinth's narrative. It's Jareth's attempt to distract Sarah from her responsibilities and make her love him and want to stay Underground. But the Video creates a love triangle with the addition of a totally unknown girl!

Video enters on a balcony window, where said Girl is sitting in her room. She is dark-haired, beautiful, and lost in thought. She has a typewriter and a Xerox machine, so she may be a paralegal intern, or at least an aspiring Office Depot associate. (Actually, back in the day we used to call that thing a "Ditto Machine.") It's not even apparent how old she is, maybe 20-something.
The copy machine starts printing images of Bowie, and the video starts intercutting multiple time periods. Girl seems to have a BF who looks like Bowie and is a singer, but we also get images from Labyrinth, and Girl even has a Labyrinth poster in her room. She's pretty sweet on this Bowie Lookalike, and then Hoggle shows up with a painted portrait of the Girl. Even Sarah appears, but only in archival footage from the film. But Hoggle is really there and even hangs out with Bowie Lookalike as though they're friends. At least, we think this is a Bowie Lookalike and not meant to be Bowie himself. He's probably Video Bowie, the guy who goes on adventures in the video and nails China Girl while Real Bowie performs the gig via intercut footage. It's only confusing because this Video Bowie is also a singer who performs.





The New Girl

We're not sure why they cast another girl for this story. It would have been super awesome to have Connelly in it, with Sarah trying to live her life in the Ordinary World but still being haunted by memories and love feelings for the Goblin King. Maybe she wasn't available or something. We read somewhere that New Girl was selected because she was more adult and could therefore legally have Bowie Lookalike as a real BF. But that's a strange concern, because New Girl has no physical contact with Jareth or Bowie, and the relationship is never defined.
You'd think that between all of these guys - Jareth, Real Bowie, Video Bowie, and/or Bowie Lookalike - somebody would get to tap this, but no. (Despite all the visual sex cues, "Labyrinth" is actually the ultimate exercise in cock-blocking.)





The Meaning?

We dunno what this video is about, but maybe New Girl is supposed to be a grown up version of Sarah? And Bowie Lookalike is actually Jareth posing as a regular guy in the Ordinary World and trying again to romance her. Or maybe Labyrinth is just a "movie" in this world, and New Girl is just a random girl who, like most, has fallen in love with actual, Real Bowie because of it.

This could explain why her Real Life is shown in B&W. Shades of gray appropriately suggest boredom and lifelessness, and only the Labyrinth footage is in color, because once you've seen Labyrinth and Jareth has taken your love and absconded Underground with it, your Real Life becomes drab and pointless and everything in it blows chunks.

This situation is a bummer, and permanent. The creators of the video seem to understand that, and even express it through the haunted Xerox Machine; it ends this tale by displaying an image of eternity. The copy machine is magical and will keep printing Bowie and Labyrinth pictures forever, long after its paper trays are empty, and long after New Girl has gone on to assistant-manage an OfficeMax. But that's a story for another video.












Underground

This is the coolest video ever!! We love this song, and this is a most artistic expression of its deeper concepts. We start with Bowie - Video Bowie or Real Bowie, it's not clear - looking beautiful in color as he plays a gig in an underground club. Below street level, the night is so chill that he's singing in vapor (!) and wearing an elegant leather coat - very long and just shy of Jareth. He goes out into the alley and has an adventure "Underground," encountering Labyrinth characters and even flashing back to previous videos, previous stage personas, and stardusted ephemera in general. (Watch carefully and you can even see Screaming Lord Byron!)





This video gives insight on what the Underground is and how to get there, but it's still a mystery even after we watch Bowie demonstrate the technique. He walks down into the cobbles of an alley and this induces a flashing of memories. We journey into his brain and the world turns to glowing scribbles of the subconscious, a spiral staircase that opens into a long, tumbling fall. And boom, he's in a drawing of the Labyrinth, complete with sketchy corridors and doodle versions of Hoggle and the Junk Lady. Even the scribbly version of the Blue-Eyed Eyeball Plant is here !!






The Video

Video Bowie loses his direct connection to the magical, scribble-world, and he ends up in the club again, alone. (But he's suddenly in different wardrobe for no reason. So clearly, Jareth's magic is at work.) Now there's no boundary between the real world and the Underground. Labyrinth characters invade the city: Goblins are everywhere, The Eyeball Plant is growing in the street, the Junk Lady wanders around, and even the Helping Hands are doing backup vocals.
Video Bowie gets into it, singing and dancing it up in his new wardrobe (complete with rever's gloves, you sexy thing!), grooving with scribble chicks that jump off the wall, and it's all fun and trippy. Then the most awesome thing happens: Bowie discards his "Real Body" shell, and his glowing, scribble-Self jumps out. He goes back to the cobbles and walks down into them, leaving the Ordinary World behind forever.
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"Daddy, get me out of here!"

Ziggy, The Duke, The Bowie, Halloween Jack, The Gentleman... Bowie has a lot of nicknames. He seems to get a new one every two or three albums along. For Labyrinth, he earned the unusual title of Daddy among the fans, because Underground uses this phrasing. Daddy is the guy who controls where you live in the world, where you go, and (apparently) when/if you get to escape to the Underground. We dunno if Bowie intended this Father Figure to be himself, Jareth, or a God concept ("Heavenly Father"), but we assume that he's speaking for Sarah when he calls out, "Daddy, get me out of here!"
We think that Jareth is the likely identity of "Daddy," as he controls the Underground and actually does want Sarah to live her dreams. This would establish him as some kind of God figure, at least in her mind.






What IS the Underground?

It's a big deal that even Video Bowie can't resist the savage jaw of the Underground. He gets a taste of it, the incursions on his reality begin immediately, and within three minutes he's doing what we all fantasize about doing: ripping off our skin and turning into cartoons. This magical realm must be a perfect experience, drug-like and so fun and peaceful that no sane person could refuse it. But what is it exactly?

A...Heaven
In keeping with Jareth's role as a Godlike, fatherly figure, the Underground may represent the afterlife. "A land Serene, a crystal moon." "You'll find someone true." "It's only forever." Peace, Truth, and Eternity are often associated with a rarefied afterlife.

B...Death?
There seems a literal interpretation of Underground, as Bowie gets there by walking underneath the city street. This could suggest "Six Feet Under," death as a passage to this magical realm. As Bowie says, "Nothing ever hurts again," and pain and debility are mortal concerns.
But he also says "Wanna live Underground," meaning that this is not true Death, but a modified form of Living.

C...The Subconscious
Sub = Under. The Underground is a realization of all of our fantasies and hidden desires. It's like a heaven that we manifest with our own imaginings. Bowie proves this when his mind is actually tapped just as he finds the staircase. It's the journey inward that enables the Underground to be an outward reality.

D... ALL of These! Interdimensional Potluck !
A, B, and C are examples of our limited human ability to define such a huge concept. The Real Underground is a mixture of these things and seems to exist in another, concurrent dimension. To get there, Bowie actually freefalls, flying past stars and galaxies before approaching a radiant, sun-like portal. The Labyrinth landscape is just one possible environment of this place; actual Underground may be a parallel universe or out in space somewhere.


At any rate, the Underground is so cool that Underground doesn't even contain footage from "Labyrinth." (Really. Not one frame.) Most of this thing is an advertisement for the place itself, basically a promotional video for the Underground Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. Some of it is a display of Bowie's talents, his showmanship for playing gigs, working the money shots perfectly, and being strikingly handsome in a leathery Jareth-crossover.
The rest of it is a not-so-subtle commentary on how much your life sucks.






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