LABYRINTHStarring: David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud, Brian Henson, Dave Goelz, Frank Oz
Written By: Jim Henson, Dennis Lee
Directed By: Jim Henson
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Original Year of release: 1986
Rated: PG

Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is a fourteen-year-old girl who yearns for a fanciful life away from the responsibilities of caring for her infant stepbrother Toby (Toby Froud). Sarah wishes that the goblins would take him away and she gets exactly what she wishes for. Sarah learns that goblins are very real and so is their King, Jareth (David Bowie), who offers Sarah a chance to win back Toby. All she has to do is reach him in the heart of his Labyrinth.

Puppeteer and Master Storyteller Jim Henson followed up his film The Dark Crystal (1982) with a slightly lighter fantasy called Labyrinth. Collaborating with George Lucas and David Bowie enabled Henson to create one of the great cinematic fantasies of all time. The film is a perfect mixture of music, puppets, and special effects and is now celebrating its 30th birthday. 

As is the case with any film that has tons of special effects,  HD releases can be both a blessing and a curse. By placing the film in 4K Ultra HD, several flaws stand out like sore thumbs. Wires are now visible whereas before they simply were not there. Jareth’s castle floating apart at the end of the film perhaps is the most visible. The high definition aspects also point out how poorly constructed Hoggle’s head appears to be. Yet in complete contrast to Hoggle, Ludo appears to live and breathe like never before. Likewise for every little goblin that comes to life as it bounces around the screen. Their eyes have souls and true characters behind them.

king jarethThere are so many tiny gems tucked away in the wide shots that are now completely visible that heighten that Alice in Wonderland-like quality the film has always had. Jareth’s face etched onto a wall in the distance is a perfect tribute to Henson’s obsession with details. All of Sarah’s belongings in her bedroom are clearly inspirations for the characters inside the Labyrinth. Even Jareth appears on her mirror in a photograph with her deceased mother. Many of these moments and winks to the audience had been lost on DVD and VHS.

Several scenes just never looked right whether it was on DVD or VHS. The Firey dance number with Sarah is such a scene. The shooting of the scene was against black velvet, as to hide each puppeteer (there were three per puppet). This scene now has a yellow glaze on in HD, only highlighting it further. Thankfully, with all the insanity of each dancing puppet they more than make up for it.

Labyrinth

There are several new special features that Sony has collected here for this 30th-anniversary edition. “Recording Time: (09:31), is an incredible, albeit short, retrospective look back at Labyrinth. A highlight of this feature is Brian Henson speaking about working with his father for the first time on a motion picture as a seasoned professional. Brian Henson, mentions that his father really enjoyed making The Dark Crystal, but it lacked the fun he had working with The Muppets. After all, for Jim, the best failed takes, were the ones when everyone couldn’t stop laughing.

“The Henson Legacy Featurette” (10:36) is a look at Jim Henson’s family, career, and legacy. What fans of Henson will really appreciate, about this piece, is the spotlight on the Center for Puppetry Arts, in Atlanta Georgia. Here they restore and preserve Henson’s creations. Many of the creatures from both The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth now reside here.

“The Goblin King Featurette” (4:48) has Jennifer Connelly and Brian Henson regaling us with tales about David Bowie’s performance and on set antics. Henson states that Bowie was so relaxed, it was if he was on vacation. He was a joy to both cast mates and the crew. Often Bowie would head to the studio pub after shooting to relax and laugh them.

LabyrinthMany of the other special features are from prior releases. Brian Froud’s commentary track is probably unique being that he was the conceptual designer for the film. The must see from the original special features is “Inside the Labyrinth”. This Making-Of-Documentary is narrated by Jim Henson himself and spotlights screenwriter Terry Jones and conceptual designs by Brain Froud (Toby’s real-life father). Immediately one can appreciate the HD transfer again as we see this non-transferred documentary. Grainy and raw it shows its age. What it also reveals is the wizardry and practical thinking in making the creatures of the Labyrinth come to life. David Bowie is also interviewed throughout as many on set moments show exactly how much fun he is having. Star Trek: The Next Generation fans will be shocked to see choreographer Cheryl “Gates” McFadden break down the Masquerade scene and give goblins directions for the epic battle at the end of the film. This fifty-six-minute documentary (produced by George Lucas) is a must see for fans of Henson and the film.

A great returning special feature is “The Storytellers”. A picture-in-picture track featuring stories and comments by Cheryl Henson (Henson’s daughter), puppet makers Rollin Knewson and Connie Peterson, make-up artist Nick Dudman, and actor Warwick Davis (yes, the man who played Willow). This feature runs the length of the film and covers everything from puppet conception, construction, and then application. Cheryl Henson discusses her father in great length and allows us into what was his inspiration for characters, story and numerous scenes.

Special Features:

4K Ultra HD

  • Feature film in 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR)
  • Dolby Atmos soundtrack (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) *
  • Also includes the film and special features on high-def Blu-ray

Blu-ray Bonus Features Include:

  • 4K Restoration & Dolby Atmos soundtrack (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) *
  • ALL-NEW: “The Henson Legacy” Featurette

o  Jennifer Connelly and the Henson family talk about the art of puppetry and the magic of Jim Henson, along with a visit to the “Center for Puppetry Arts” featuring The Jim Henson Collection and over 100 puppets from Labyrinth.

  • ALL-NEW: Labyrinth Anniversary Q&A

o  Hosted by Mythbuster’s Adam Savage with participants Brian Henson, David Goelz and Karen Prell, and surprise guest Sheri Weiser.

  • ALL-NEW: “The Goblin King” Featurette

o  Remembering David Bowie with co-star Jennifer Connelly, and Jim Henson’s children Brian Henson and Cheryl Henson.

  • The Storytellers (Picture-in-Picture)
  • Commentary by Conceptual Designer Brian Froud
  • Original Making of Documentary “Inside The Labyrinth”
  • “Journey Through the Labyrinth: Kingdom of Characters” Documentary
  • “Journey Through the Labyrinth: The Quest for Goblin City” Documentary
  • Theatrical Trailer

[review]

Our Score

By Robert Trate

In my career as a writer, I have made Doctor Who giggle, asked Ahsoka Tano what underwear she was wearing, and spoke with a Raptor from Jurassic Park.

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