Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Labyrinth

Labyrinth was the first movie I ever saw on the big screen. I was six at the time and I still remember that CGI owl at the beginning and how real it looked. I have seen Labyrinth many times since and it just doesn't get old. The actors of course are brilliant, Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie. The fact that anyone is able to concentrate on anything in the, um, face of David Bowie's trousers says a lot just about how good they are.

But what makes this film so wonderful is all the thought and work that went into it. Apart from the owl, there is no CGI. There are however a ton of models, puppets and matte paintings and a huge amount of creativity when it comes to really weird characters. All the goblins are unique and you can spent the whole film just looking at them. They even all have a backstory, Brian Froud published a companion book "The Goblins of the Labyrinth" that I can only recommend.

Whatever Sarah meets in the Labyrinth, it's real in a way that no CGI can ever accomplish. That enormous battle robot she and her friends come up against when they enter the Goblin City? That thing is not a model. It's a fifteen feet tall hydraulic puppet (named Humongous) and when it swing its axe at them, that is not a trick shot.

You will never have noticed all the little details after you've watched Labyrinth once. Or after the fifth or tenth time. Sarah's room alone is a great example. The camera sweeps the room at the beginning and the whole movie is there, down to a Jareth doll, but you cannot take it all in so quickly. The battle at the Goblin city has so many hilarious details, just happening in the background. I mean, there are milkbottles in front of the gate to the castle on the edge of the Goblin City. The DVD has an hour-long documentary that is highly entertaining and reveals just how much work went into the movie. And how annoying those black chickens were.

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Labyrinth is a great movie for kids, they love the goblins and big, gentle Ludo and the slightly insane Sir Didymus and all those wacky creatures. But it's also a great movie for adults who can enjoy all the stuff the kids love and all the parts of the story that go right over the kids' heads.

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