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Greer Gilman, master of purple involuted mock-Jacobean epics, muses about one of my favorite themes. The girls who have adventures in labyrinths fare differently compared to the boys. [Also she has a bone to pick with Tehanu's crabbed domesticity in Ursula Le Guin's novel of the same name. So do I, Gilman. So do I.]

I like her observation that the girls [Ariadne, Alice, Eilonwy from -- yack! -- the endlessly irritating Book of Three, Arha/Tehanu, Sarah] find their ways out; they know where they're going. Meanwhile, the boys [Theseus, the White Knight {?}, Taran, Sparrowhawk/Ged, Jareth] don't; they get lost and bonk around aimlessly. They're "clueless," Gilman says, which is to say without a clue...or without a clew, Ariadne's map-like ball of thread that knows the way through the passages. ["Clue" as a hint of a guide derives from "clew" qua thread. I love etymology!]

So why do we only hear of the boys getting out and through the maze? Why don't we ever hear of the girls who get to know their labyrinths and walk through the darkness, unafraid of Minotaurs?

Beats me. For some reason, Inanna's descent to the otherworld ain't considered as compelling. Why not???


Goin' to read Moonwise again, even though it drives me up the wall.

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Janna surprised me a few days ago with a hardcover reissue of A.C.H. Smith's novelization of Labyrinth, [re]published at the end of April. This version contains the same novelization text as the original 1986 paperback, but omits the insert of color stills. It does, however, contain previously unpublished goblin drawings by Brian Froud, as well as pages from Jim Henson's journals, in which he jotted notes about his original conception for Labyrinth in 1983.

I care nothing for the novelization, as it's indifferently written, but the supplemental material intrigues me. I'm most interested in Jim Henson's notes, which I haven't cracked yet, except for a brief glance, during which I caught the phrase "Goblin King = death?" That made me think back to the afterword of the 20th anniversary edition of Brian Froud's book of conceptual drawings, Goblins of Labyrinth, in which he envisions Jareth "with the worms of death eating through his armor." I haven't been able to forget that image, so I'm curious to see how Henson wanted to develop it. I also wonder exactly which fairy tale Froud's referring to.
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I took advantage of some discount coupons at Renderosity yesterday to purchase the following items, all of which make me think of my favorite movie.

First there was Beautiful Darkness, a V4 eye makeup resource by PureEnergy and hotlilme74, because Jareth's eyeliner may be thick, yes, but it doesn't make the sharply demarcated swoopy shapes that he prefers. Labyrinthian because the Goblin King has eyeliner as seen in this kit.

Next I started poking around in the "Fairy: Props/Scenes/Architecture" subsection of the marketplace, where I discovered that content creators have a puzzling obsession with making mushroom houses for sprite-like characters. While ignoring the plethora of fungus-based residences, I happened across ironman13 and EmmaAndJordi's Enchanted Bubble, which I quickly snapped up. I can think of all sorts of fun things to do with this: blow soap bubbles, trap people inside it [okay, not so fun], scry with it, repurpose as crystal balls... Labyrinthian because magical balls [hah hah hah] feature prominently in the movie.

Then I clicked on yet another fairy ring set and discovered an adorable figure atop one of the mushrooms. A little research informed me that she was Anceata, one of a pair of figures by my latest favorite figure creator Nursoda. Of course I had to check Anceata and Semil out, and they promptly hopped into my cart. I tried to convince them that they were unwanted, as I already had a scrawny figure with a big bobble head, pointy ears and oversize hands [Telka, also by Nursoda]. However, Anceata pointed out her devastating cuteness, especially with her round and pointy little chin, wide mouth and glasses, so I allowed them to stay. Labyrinthian because Nursoda explicitly cites Brian Froud, designer of many Labyrinth puppets, as an inspiration for his work.

Links to other suggested products on Anceata and Semil's page directed me to Poisen's Eyeball Garden 2 Posable. I've always found the eyeball lichen one of the most memorable and inventive elements of Labyrinthian scenery, but also one of the most revolting. Since I've been kitting out my runtime with fantasy elements, I decided to toss the eyeball plants in there. I have successfully reduced my revulsion by telling myself that these are not actually plants with vertebrate eyes, but instead plants whose flowers mimic said eyes for unknown reasons. I'll bet you money that the slightly sadistic alchemist responsible for other Experiments is behind the eye plants too.

By this time in my order, I was only cents away from $40.00, which would make me eligible for a 20% discount. I wondered if there was anything I could that would put me above that threshold. I went with Schurby's Landscaping Hedges, mostly because, in a Labyrinthian mood, I was thinking of hedge mazes. They'll also be nice for putting in front of digital houses, though.

Speaking of digital houses, I got another item recently that reminds me of Labyrinth: the Ant Farm's NeverHome. This neighborhood of narrow, peaked houses resembles the ramshackle structures of the Goblin City in their brownness and pointiness. I like how they look realistic enough to be interpreted as standard residential buildings, but stylized enough to be slightly uncanny.

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"Underground King for M4." Bulge-related morphs included, much to my amusement. Hair not included, much to my disappointment.
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Yesterday I picked up Lauren Oliver's Spindlers from the library. As I could tell from the cover, it involves a brave girl descending into darkness to rescue someone she loves from creepy monsters. I always have loved stories of girls going underground, the modern Urtext of which is that book that people today think is Alice in Wonderland, but is really Alice's Adventures Underground by Lewis Carroll. [Sidebar: the ancient Urtext is that possibly of Persephone or maybe even Inanna.] Anyway, such a basic story of transformation is very difficult to do justice to, and, unfortunately, The Spindlers fails.

The Spindlers follows protagonist Liza as she goes underground to save her younger brother from arachnid creatures that have stolen his soul to eat. Oliver writes well, even beautifully at times, but she can't plot, can't pace and can't tie anything together. Guided by a large nervous talking rat, Liza trudges from event to event. There's a market of lost things, a seductive palace dance, a ridiculous kangaroo court, a river of knowledge, a forest of evil trees, a rickety bridge guarded by a keeper who demands a fee, a drugged smorgasbord, a threat of being devoured, a helper who turns traitor, a distraction of monsters by throwing rocks to set them upon one another, a hall of misleading mirrors, an invitation to stay in the dream forever, a traitor turning back into a helper in the nick of time, a showdown in which the ruler falls to pieces along with the castle, blah blah blah. 

I can handle threadbare elements if they're well executed, but these here ain't. Modern tales of girls going underground tend to be about the messiness of perspective, the slipperiness of life and the challenge of maintaining one of the few constants -- love, affection, loyalty, family, one's own moral compass  -- in such a promising, threatening morass. I, however, have no idea what The Spindlers is about, but it's not that. Why does Liza have these particular experiences? Instead of being Liza's own psychological landscape, the underground functions as a vacuous adventure dispenser. There are no unifying concepts or themes, just a serialized circus of oddity without significance. The Spindlers takes a nifty concept and runs it into the ground with triviality.

It's really a Labyrinth ripoff. It's like Oliver discarded all the good parts of the movie [the context provided by Sarah's room's contents, wonderfully designed puppets, the odd, very British flashes of humor, that dude with the balls] and, for some reason, decided to run with the concept of a whiny kid fighting some royal villain for custody of her little brother. The Spindlers really jumped the shark when Oliver, for no particular reason, gave Liza a penchant for saying, "That's not fair!" -- which is, of course, Sarah's refrain in Labyrinth. I then became distracted, imagining Liza's words in young Jennifer Connelly's petulant whine. Ugh.

This is not a book that pisses me off. This is just a book that disappoints me. Clearly it's time to cleanse my mind by reading all of Alice's adventures. 
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She makes me actually like the song. I always thought that the lyrics were, "I'm coming out, so you'd better get this party started." 

The mist, masks and mirrors are making me think that someone needs to mash this cover up with images from the ballroom scene in Labyrinth.
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I love this piece of fan art, Evil King 2, by MarylinFill on DeviantArt. She accurately captures the menacing underworldly power that emanates from him when he first appears. Reminds me of the Major Arcanum the Magician. Also the kind of air I was trying to evoke with Timonium.
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...I will put this in a new entry, so as not to detract from Sarah's triumph. After Sarah says, "You have no power over me!" I just love David Bowie's final facial expression. He looks wrung out, worn down and deflated.  He's not angry at all, just disappointed and hopeless. He knew it was coming; he knew it a long time ago, all the way back in the ballroom in a bubble when Sarah wrenched herself from his arms and escaped. He knew it when she ran after Toby in the stair maze, instead of him. It's the ineluctable trajectory: dude is goin' down.

Read more... )
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Though generally not a fan of Jennifer Connelly's one-note performance as Sarah in Labyrinth [where that one note = HUH???], I do love the way she delivers that line. She starts off reciting the little climactic speech from the play that she was struggling with in the beginning.

As she begins, you can see her speaking pro forma, mouthing the words because that's the function of the Protagonist during a Showdown with the Antagonist. Staring into middle distance, not really at Jareth, she goes through the motions necessary to achieve the Climax...

...And then she stalls on "kingdom as great." While she's wracking her brains, Jareth takes the opportunity to butt in with a truly ridiculous show of groveling: the "Do as I say, and I will be your slave" speech that has launched a thousand kinky OTPs.

Sarah continues to try to remember the next Step in the Formulaic Process, but then you can actually see the moment where she stops. She looks up at Jareth and really perceives him for the first time in that scene. You can see her realizing that, for all his bluster, he's terrified of her. You can see her deciding that he's no longer worth it. You can see that weight of terror lifting from her shoulders. You can see her confidence blooming as she looks straight into his eyes, standing up a little taller, even smiling a bit.

At that moment, she's finally full of herself and her own power. You can see her pride and her hope and her determination when she states with calm finality and some amazement, "You have no power over me." Those words happen to be the Next Words in the Spell of Confrontation, but, more importantly, they are the words with which Sarah seizes her own agency after an entire movie of being a whiny, reactive, powerless girl. HURRAY!!!!
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Mary Downing Hahn's Look for Me by Moonlight tells the story of 16-year-old Cynda. She spends the winter at her remarried father's isolated Maine inn, where she feels left out of his new family. She ignores the overtures of friendship from a fellow loner her age, Will, in favor of the only person that she feels understands her: the elegant, cultured Vincent, who is at least twice her age [well, actually more like 31.25 times her age, but he looks 30].

Vincent plays on Cynda's crush and enthralls her so that he may drink her blood. She finds herself powerless to resist his commands and even to tell her family how he is sapping her will to live. The climax occurs when Vincent manipulates Cynda's 5-year-old half-brother Todd into becoming his next victim. Wrenching herself from her enchantment, Cynda enlists Will's help and, with some supernatural aid from the ghosts of previous 16-year-olds that Vincent has drained, eradicates the vampire.

I fucking love this book! As a novel for kids from 9 to 13, it's written simply, but evocatively, with the usual mastery of creepy atmosphere demonstrated by Hahn in most of her stories. At the same time, even though it's a YA book, Hahn directly engages with the combination of sex and death that makes seduction by vampire so peculiarly potent. I mean, everyone in the entire book [including Cynda] worries about Vincent taking advantage of Cynda and even raping her, though, thanks to Vincent's machinations, Cynda's parents end up believing that Will represents a sexual threat to her. After reading so much YA paranormal romance bullshit [oh hey there, Twilight saga!] that doesn't seriously address the power differential between the mortal female protagonist and the vampire male love interest, I am so glad to read a well-written exposition of the temptation and also the supreme, cold ickiness of finding out that your fantasy is made of ice that wishes only to penetrate you and kill you to the core.

Look for Me by Moonlight reminds me strongly of Sarban's Doll Maker, another nearly allegorical, simply written, evocative novel in which a young woman dances with, goes under and then, finally, resists and pulls free from, an older man who sexually dominates her and prefigures death. As Cynda almost becomes Vincent's icy object, so Clare in the Doll Maker almost becomes Niall's doll, but they both end up overcoming those men who would occupy them. Interestingly, both of them use the ambivalent, cleansing power of fire to effect their final transformation from thrall to independent agent. [Kill it! Kill it with fire!!]

Look for Me by Moonlight also reminds me of Labyrinth. I mean, heck, it's about a 16-year-old girl [Sarah] who feels displaced from her family due to her mother's absence and her father's remarriage. She resents her half-brother [Toby] and spends much of her time living in fantasies [that damn play] where she is convinced that an older dude [Jareth] cares for her. Ultimately, though, she realizes that the older dude means death, so she must rescue her half-brother and herself from his clutches. Of course, Look for Me by Moonlight lacks the added layer that Labyrinth has of occurring entirely within the protagonist's mind. Therefore Cynda needs to neutralize Vincent, while Sarah, in my interpretation, should be doing something more complex than that with Jareth. In any event, I will never tire of reading feminist tales of girls kicking oppressive patriarchal ass and coming into their own power based on warmth, love and connection.

Jareth is such a pedophilic vampire. I mean the one in the movie.

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I've been a fan of contact juggling ever since I first saw it in Labyrinth. This individual does a stellar job of it, accompanied by smooth cinematography and pleasing score. I've always liked how the balls appear to stick to the jugglers and/or defy gravity.
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As much as I like smirky Jareth, I'm also a big fan of contemplative Jareth. [Hey, lookit my userpic!] Also known as "Oh shit" Jareth. :p
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I found this Tumblr dedicated to a Spanish collector's memorabilia hoard. As I page through the photos, what most strikes me is all the candids of Jennifer Connelly with a beautiful grin on her face. I've been ragging on her for years because she portrayed Sarah in a near-constant state of open-mouthed stupefaction, to the point where I thought she was seriously incapable of other expressions. Now I realize that she made a conscious choice to hang her mouth open all the time. What a pity, as Jareth would say; I think the movie would be vastly improved if she had just presented a neutral face with closed lips.
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Archaia will release a manga about Jareth's backstory. Meh. Just because you can write sequels/prequels doesn't mean you should. Please refer to the wretched Return to Labyrinth manga series for a case in point.

I have a "to read" tag. I should probably have a "not to read" tag. :p
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I bought my Souldoll Zenith Shiva G with the express purpose of making her look like Jennifer Connelly's character, Sarah, in the 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth, which is my favorite in the whole world. My Sarah is not exactly the same character as Sarah in the film, but she is bookish, fantastical and quiet, like her film inspiration. Anyway, I wanted to give her the outfit that Sarah wears for most of the film when she is questing through the Labyrinth to rescue her baby brother Toby.

Arianne02 did the faceup to look like a young, freckled Jennifer Connelly, while the talented Isabeau made Sarah's blouse and vest as accurate to the film as possible. The wig is a size 7-8 "brown black" from Monique. Soom supplied the Mecha Angel jeans [yes, I know they are sparkly], while the inaccurate [but still cute] stripey socks came from Obitsu, the black loafers [should be brown] from Dollmore. Just for an in-joke, I gave Sarah a button with a picture on it of Jareth, the Goblin King, who seems to be in love with her and who serves as her antagonist throughout the film.Read more... )

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So I was reading reviews of Return to Labyrinth, volume 4, a shitty manga predicated on Jareth naming Toby as heir to the maze. As I did so, I said to myself, “Some movies just shouldn’t have sequels.” And Labyrinth is one such. It creates a convincing and immersive world that wraps up conclusively at the end of its time frame and needs no embellishment in the form of further adventures. [That said, I will not censure fanfic writers for doing their damnedest to prove me otherwise. :p ]

As I scanned the reviews, a thought occurred to me: the sequels to Labyrinth stink for many reasons, one of the major ones being that they expand on the human population of the Labyrinth. The Return to Labyrinth series, for example, brings in Mizumi, Queen of Moraine [what?!], her two daughters, a mysterious girl named Moppet, etc., etc., etc. These additions negatively affect the original, true population of Labyrinth, i.e., just Jareth.

In order to prove that more humans in the Labyrinth is a bad idea, I should probably tell you why having only one is a good idea, no? As the sole human in the Labyrinth, Jareth provides a 1:1 correspondence to Sarah. He matches her. He becomes her complement in a way that clearly identifies him as a central figure of fantasy fulfillment, undistracted by other people. His symbolic appearance as the flip side of Sarah [hello there, Jareth, walking on the underside of the Escher maze while Sarah runs along the top!] is obviously telegraphed in his solitude. Jareth as sole human makes his symbolic role and his connection to Sarah crystal-ball-clear [nyuk nyuk].

Jareth’s aloneness also highlights another important aspect of his and Sarah’s character: their loneliness. Just in case you weren’t convinced by his pre-Magic-Dance boredom that Jareth feels lonely, his sad isolation also comes through in the sheer numbers. That is to say that he’s outnumbered by Muppets. He sits in his castle, spinning idle fantasies, in the same way that Sarah roams the park alone, practicing her lines with no one. Jareth’s singleness underscores the dangerous estrangement that Sarah suffers when she’s too immersed in her daydreams.

Having more people than Jareth in the Labyrinth depersonalizes the whole adventure for Sarah by diffusing Jareth’s symbolic heft and downplaying his twinship with her.

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I'm buying a Souldoll Shiva G from the DoA marketplace. Her name is Sarah, inspired by Sarah from Labyrinth [dreamy, bookish and shy, but not as whiny or as stupid with her mouth hanging open]. She's coming with this outfit.

Right now I have conflicting ideas about how I want to set her up. [I usually paint and dress my dolls once, then keep them that way, unless they are Anneka, Will or Velvette.] Part of me wants to prepare her as Sarah from Labyrinth, with long straight brown hair, brown eyes, jeans, peasant blouse, vest and loafers. Another part of me wants to put her in green eyes, pink ponytails, my an42 pink and orange paisley dress, black and white stripey socks. Of course, the beauty of BJDs is that I can prepare her both ways, but I'm just trying to decide which look to invest in first.

Since I have the paisley dress and the stripey socks, I think I will go with the obnoxious pink look first!

As Sarah is coming with a wig, eyes and clothes [even though they are out of character], I don't really need to prepare anything for her arrival except some footwear. I sold all my BJD shoes when I got rid of Jareth, Frank and Jennifer because my remaining BJD, Sardonix, goes barefoot [and wigless -- very low maintenance!]. I hope to get Sarah some loafers from the DoA marketplace, barring that, some boring black boots. [At 8.3 cm long, Souldoll Zenith girls have big feet compared to other female dolls in the 70cm range, which makes shoe shopping hard.]

I'm also excited to report that I'll be moving my big dolls [all 2 of them, Sardonix and Junebug] this evening. They currently sit on the very top shelf of my tallest doll bookshelf in my bedroom. Above eye level, they are isolated and rarely admired. I'm transferring them to the first shelf of my bookcase in the living room. They will then be directly across the room from my chair, where I sit to use my computer and read. I will then look up and see Sardonix with her arms folded and Junebug with her happy smile and, soon, Sarah with her wistful expression. All three of them should make good friends.
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Kinjou and I were talking about Labyrinth in a recent chat tonight and how the ending, in which Sarah parties with the Muppets while Jareth flies away in the form of an owl, seems like a foul misstep, thematically speaking.

Our reasons, in conversational form, below:

me: Har de har har!
9:27 PM Aw man, the ending always makes me sad.
Kinjou: [jesi says that :)]
me: The ending music always sounds so wistful and mournful as she puts away her music box and Jareth goes flying off into the night [to catch mice, one assumes].
9:28 PM Kinjou: It's the end of girlhood. Some wistfulness is required, certainly.
me: Exactly. Very bittersweet.
Kinjou: *nods* I had objected to the ending, myself, at the time
9:29 PM me: "Sarah! Don't kick out Jareth like that! He's the strongest, most compelling part of you!"
Kinjou: I felt that it could be worked out some way LOL eternal optimist
me: "Surely you can find a way to deal with him where he doesn't have to intimidate and grovel all the time!"
Kinjou: Indeed!
me: It just felt wrong to me that she would accept all the friendly creatures, just because they were her friends, and reject Jareth, primarily because she feared him.
9:30 PM If you accept just what you like and kick out what you fear and do not know, you're only doing yourself a disservice by denying yourself access to your unknown powers.
Kinjou: But how many people have we encountered that make that choice?
Exactly that choice.
me: How many people accept the innocuous and reject the intimidating/
Kinjou: Indeed.
9:31 PM me: Lots.
But the whole point of Labyrinth was that things are not always what they seem.
Kinjou: Exactly.
Honestly, if you want to know what I think, the end always read like a last minute rewrite to me
me: Sarah tried to read all the other characters and play their game, but she never tried to read and understand Jareth.
9:32 PM The bit with the Labyrinth creatures [except for Jareth] dancing in her room?
Kinjou: *nods*
me: Yeah, that always seemed like someone's pathetic excuse for a happy ending. "Yeah, we can't let go of the cutesy comedic Muppets!"
9:33 PM Kinjou: I always felt that the film really ended with her saying goodbye to her girlhood, a really bittersweet ending that test audiences didn't care for.
So many films have been botched by rewrites from the reactions of test audiences *facepalm* I can almost always see them
9:34 PM me: I do like the owl watching her and then flying into the moon and the end credits, a nice mirror for the beginning of the film, Jareth watching over her as he was at the beginning, always intruding on the edge of her reality, maybe looking for a way in.
Yeah, they're so FORCED.
Kinjou: Exactly.
me: Cut out the stupid party with the creatures, and end it with Sarah closing away her music box, Jareth the owl watching, then soaring away into the moon.
9:35 PM AND...scene.
Kinjou: The ending seemed a hasty rewrite with the screenwriter trying desperately to preserve the integrity of the story by presenting Jareth as transformed into a guardian figure
me: But, with that stupid party, it just looks not like Jareth's the watcher, as he is in the beginning, but the pathetic dude who didn't get invited to the shindig.
9:36 PM [Ref Sir Didymus' quote at the end: I say, anyone for a game of Scrabble?]
Kinjou: There are a lot of films that I want to give the Kinjou Director's Cut LOL
me: I agree. I'd take out that stupid party.
9:37 PM It makes no sense.
I mean, Sarah purposely confronted Jareth alone, rejecting the Muppets.
Kinjou: "PERFECT! STOP THE STORY THERE!.....Aw, shit, it's going to go on for another fifteen minutes for no reason. x.x"
me: She realized that she had to find the strength in herself to stand up to the menacing parts of herself.
9:38 PM So she told the Muppets to go away before she won back Toby all on her very own, but then she brought them back around in a little schmaltzy moment when she admitted, after putting signs of her childhood away, that she needed them "for no reason at all."
Kinjou: It should have ended with her embracing and comforting Jareth. That would have been a much more satisfying (and sane) ending. Then him flying off into the moon, always watchful, no longer menacing, the wise half of herself.
9:39 PM me: Now I acknowledge that one does like to indulge one's Muppet equivalents sometimes, no matter what one's age, but that admission from her seemed so sobby and wimpy and not characteristic of the new, strong, caring Sarah, more sure in her power than she was at the beginning.
9:40 PM Kinjou: The thing is, it was all about choice. So by all rights, she could now choose when or when not to interact with Jareth & the other beings.
And on what terms.
me: In my mind, Jareth as he appears in Labyrinth was immature and petulant and demanding and egotistical because Sarah was.
The whole story was about her maturing. When she rejected him, she rejected that overbearing form of him.
Kinjou: Exactly. Which is why I see the owl transformation as Wise Guardian
9:41 PM me: He flew away, OUT OF THAT FORM, but not necessarily out of her life. He's still there, as the guardian, but now that she has grown, he too has broken from his petulant, childish role.
Kinjou: Exactly.
The whole "muppet party" thing muddies the symbolism
me: He can draw back and take what HE himself has learned, along with what SHE herself has learned, and wait till the time is right to approach her again.
Yes, yes, it muddies the symbolism. Exactly.
9:42 PM It makes Sarah seem retrograde, as if she truly didn't learn the proper place for her mental Muppets.
Kinjou: *nods vigorously*
9:43 PM me: I think that Hoggle's offer of "Should you need us..." was fine, along with her response of, "I'll call."
Kinjou: The thing is, it wasn't until now that an American audience was ready, cinematically speaking, for the deeper basis of faerieland stories
me: Then CUT TO Jareth flying away, with the connection implicit that Sarah might call him too, if she ever acquired the maturity and brains to approach the deeper meanings of her adventure.
9:44 PM You're right; there's a lot of superficial fairyland wankery in the muddled ending that screws up the wild power of Jareth and his land.
Kinjou: Yes. It would also have held the additional symbolism of one's dark side being everpresent
me: [And the FIREYS? They wanted to kill Sarah by taking off her head. So why are they at the party and Jareth is absent?]
9:45 PM In Legend, speaking of darkness everpresent,
Darkness tells Pantsless Tom Cruise's character that they are "brothers eternal" and it ends with Darkness superimposed on Tom Cruise, laughing into fade-out, a much broodier and truer ending than Labyrinth was permitted.
9:46 PM Kinjou: *nods* and, like the first two films, "Legend" was also a dismal commercial failure that has achieved cult status
me: But nooooooooooo. With Labyrinth we get a ending in which Sarah
actively chooses only the light, frothy, happy, easy-to-deal-with characters and actively rejects complexity, ambiguity and insight.
9:47 PM She keeps all the Muppets and boots out the only other human, which I always thought was weird.
Kinjou: *nods* which is why I think that it's a rewrite, otherwise her making a bad choice would have been more indicated.
me: He has the same form as her; he is humanoid, as she is, of the same kind, unlike all the others.
9:48 PM Therefore he is the most like her, which makes me think that he is of the same stuff as her, as part of her.
Kinjou: *nods*! which makes the connection between them much more obvious, btw
me: No shit -- to me and you at least.
Kinjou: There is part of Jareth that is quite human, and relatable
me: And she booted out the part of herself that was the most human and powerful and magical and ambiguous and threatening...
Probably BECAUSE she was threatened by his similarity to her.
9:49 PM Kinjou: Well, it makes sense that she'd initially be frightened of him on that basis.
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Watched some parts of L just now and came to the conclusion that the songs detract from the stated goal of a children's didactic fantasy film. More specifically, David Bowie detracts from the stated goal of a children's didactic fantasy film. As a rock superstar, he required superstar-sized billing in the film, skewing the film away from the simpler morality tale of Sarah learning altruism through rescuing her brother from the clutches of Immature Childish Fantasy. Read more... )
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[profile] bellatrys rambles intriguingly about Labyrinth in an entry from November, 2007, and why it's so powerful...because of the final showdown. In the final showdown, where Jareth grovels and Sarah stares him down, we receive an example of a climax so rarely according female protagonists: the direct confrontation with the evil and the rejection thereof. Sarah sees through Jareth's bullshit; she acknowledges her equality with, indeed, her supremacy OVER, him. She rebalances her life by asserting herself to be the stronger character. I agree with bellatrys' comment that the movie should have ended there, without the puppet party afterward. [Found via The Hathor Legacy.]

All of this makes me think that, even though I no longer actively work on Jareth's Realm, Labyrinth remains the dominant narrative template through which I live my life. It keeps infiltrating all of my own artistic endeavors.


Aug. 14th, 2007 10:03 am
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Sites like this push me that much closer to making a LOLbyrinth blog, which is pretty much what I do in my spare time anyway: make stupid captions for movie stills.
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So in November of last year, Mike Dillon sent me five single-spaced pages of erudite speculation on Jareth, Sarah and the psychological ramifications of the Labyrinth. Not until today did I hack a shorter, less dense essay out of all his fascinating thoughts. See below for a theory on Jareth’s secretly benevolent nature. Apparently he really wants to be Sarah’s therapist. No really…just read it… Amusing comic-like illustrations included...
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[MW STEPS UP to the podium at an outdoor amphitheater reminiscent of the Coliseum.]

MW: Howdy there, loyal Jareth's Realm viewers.

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Home At Last, from Labyrinth. This is actually an instrumental that plays when Sarah is putting away her toys and pictures. It's a very slow, tinkly version of As the World Falls Down, also known as the Jareth Is Dead Instrumental. You see why I hate it?

Superheroes, from Rocky Horror. This is the song that Brad and Janet sing in the wreckage of the Frankenstein Place as it's blasting off to a distant planet.  Also known as the Frank Is Dead Song. Of course it depresses me.

However, for sheer slit-your-wrists despair, nothing beats the cover of Mad World on the Donnie Darko soundtrack. The original by Tears For Fears balances mopey lyrics with a surprisingly up-tempo beat so that the song veers between precious and poignant, making it a perfect evocation of teenage self-consciousness. The Donnie Darko version strips away almost all instrumentation, leaving just the singer's quiet, steady voice. It is the naked, vulnerable personification of melancholy. I've listened to it on repeat, and every single time it gives me chills of beauty and gloom.
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A Jareth action fig, sculpted by NECA, debuts in March 2007. I saw the news here. Maybe this will compensate for the canceled Palisades 12"; I've heard that NECA sculpts are very detailed and realistic. I still wanted a 1:6 mass-produced Jareth, though. No pictures yet, but I'll post 'em when I have 'em.
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Remember when I showed some Toy Fair 2006 previews of accurate, detailed resin busts of Labyrinth characters? Well, now these are finally hitting the shelves. You can find two currently available goblin statues on comic-store shelves now, with Jareth apparently arriving next month. See the pre-order for a Sir Didymus toy here too at Big Bad Toy Store:

Also, it appears that the 1:6 Jareth doll is back on you can see, Big Bad Toy Store has sold out their pre-order for him and states that his issue date is "3rd quarter 2006," which means right about NOW!!!
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I've got a new essay up on the Realm. Sparked by some comments made by Brian Froud in the afterword of the new edition of Goblins of Labyrinth, it talks about the very real threats of death lurking everywhere in this seemingly innocuous movie.
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Return to Labyrinth, a Henson Company/Tokyopop manga, should be considered a companion, rather than a sequel, to the 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth, about 15-year-old Sarah's coming-of-age journey to save her half-brother, Toby, from the Goblin King's Muppet-laden Labyrinth. Read more... )
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My favorite character from the Return... manga is Hana, the stabby, snotty, snarky Faery, who fulfills the Sir Didymus function when accompanying Toby through the Labyrinth.

Other than that, I find the story an interesting retread of Labyrinth [lots of in-jokes from the Labyrinth realm and even the Dark Crystal -- even gratuitous potty humor >_<]. However, Toby doesn't capture my interest; as vapid as Sarah and even less sympathetic [she had real problems; he's just a whiny and spoiled kid], he doesn't engage me at all. I also have serious questions about Jareth as the window-jumping guidance counselor and then the "retiring" [kings don't "retire" -- they ABDICATE] king. I also have questions about his sexual proclivities.

Later. I've got to get back to work.

P.S. Despite what you may have heard, this story is not total crap. It's not a masterpiece either. Just remember that it neither caters to the J/S romantics or the kids who just want puppetainment. Explicitly labeled "Teen," Return... aims at people between 12 and 16, meaning those who didn't see the original in the theaters and then spent 20 years whacking off to it. While Return... recalls enough of the original to keep the older fans happy, the primary audience consists of kids who want a blend of action and magic -- i.e., people who want what the original was trying to deliver. It succeeds modestly at its goal [action/magic/romance], but adds nothing interesting, glamorous or substantive to the Labyrinth story.

I'll still be hacking it to pieces analyzing it, though. Heh heh heh...

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Thanks to [profile] mangacast, there's an audio recording of the San Diego Comicon panel where Tokyopop and Henson Co. reps talk about the Labyrinth and Dark Crystal manga adaptations. Excuse me while I go get Quicktime and listen to it....

EDIT: The audio quality really varies. The voices of the panelists fade out easily, but the cheering audience occasionally overwhelms the track. I can't listen to this at work; it's too distracting! I'll be back later with a transcription. Amusing note: Someone [couldn't catch who -- maybe Michael Polis?] said that the germ of the Labyrinth manga came from looking at Jareth and realizing that he looked like a quintessential bishounen. HAHAHAHAHAHAH...
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Well, at least according to the Web site of the illustrator, Chris Lie: "The book will be in stores everywhere in the next 10 days." [He said that in an update yesterday.] Pulse summarizes some notes about the manga from the SDCC panel:

  • Notes for the Return to Labyrinth manga:
  • - Takes place after the movie, Toby (the baby the Goblins stole in the movie) is about 14 years old.
  • - The plot revolves around Toby exploring the world Sarah visited in the movie, but focuses mostly on the Goblins and Goblin politics.
  • - A new character created by writer Jake T. Forbes for the manga is the Goblin Mayor, who is bitter about playing second fiddle to Jareth (David Bowie's character in the movie).
  • - The plot will also explore other kingdoms neighboring Jareth's.
  • - TOKYOPOP has sold out of the first volume of the Labyrinth manga every day during the convention. They will have more for sale tomorrow (Sunday) the last day of the con.
Goblin Mayor? Competition for Jareth? I foresee utter crappiness...How can a goblin character be competition for a ball-twisting rock star? This manga is gonna hurt my brain and my fond memories of the movie...and yet I can't stop myself from satiating my curiosity.
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T-shirts, buttons and such at the Henson Company's Cafepress store:  Warning: While the MM section contains buttons with all your favorite characters, all the Laby section has is shirts with the manga sequel cover on them. Yawn yawn yawn.
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Yup, title says it all. There's a re-issue of the art book Goblins of Labyrinth [Amazon info here], containing conceptual art by Brian Froud and a foreword by Terry Jones. But wait...that's not all! This new edition includes a new afterword by Brian Froud and NEW ARTWORK!!! Check below the cut for a scan of the cover and an example of the new art. The picture across the top of the cover, showing Sarah with a mask, is an example of the new and unknown goodies that we will discover within the book's covers.
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The Jim Henson Fantasy Film Collection, a trio of Labyrinth, Dark Crystal and MirrorMask, appears on September 5th. This is not actually news, just a bit of creative marketing, since the DVDs and all extras are just the same as previous releases. The only things that distinguish this collection from anything else are clips from the Return to Labyrinth manga and from the MirrorMask manga. Boring. You can go back to waiting for the Labyrinth sequel manga now.

More info here:

Apparently the MM manga isn't coming out till early next year. >_<
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Whoo hoo! Here's some Laby news for y'all ...The Labyrinth sequel manga, officially titled Return to Labyrinth [first volume of three], comes out on August 8th. Here's the Amazon information. Here's the back text, as taken from the Tokyopop Web site:

"The Goblin King has kept a watchful eye on Toby: His minions secretly guiding and protecting the child... Legions of goblins work behind the scenes to ensure that Toby has whatever his heart desires... Preparing him for the day when he will return to the Labyrinth and take his rightful place beside Jareth as the heir to the Goblin Kingdom...

"That day has come...

"But no one has told Toby."

Here's some information from the writer himself, Jake Forbes, as posted on the Tokyopop forums, in response to people who were disappointed that Toby, rather than Sarah, was the focus:

"I'm the writer of the upcoming manga. While I don't want to give too much away too early, you can rest assured that there are several girls in the manga of various shapes and sizes--one of whom is a lead. Sarah, the main character from the movie, shows up too, but she's not the lead this time. In any case, it's not a boys-only adventure by any measure, even if Toby is our protagonist."

Annnnnd...check out images of the cover below the cut. Manga Jareth! The first is a colored version and the second uncolored version shows you all the nifty detail.
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While looking at upcoming movies on IMDB, I came upon El Laberinto del Fauno, or, as it will be hereinafter referred to because I know no Spanish, Pan's Labyrinth.
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For Slate's Summer Movie Week coverage, Grady Hendrix writes an interesting article about movie novelizations. You should read the whole article because it brings in novelizations, tie-in books [slightly different], fan fiction, fan message boards, why sci-fi and fantasy get novelized, but not other genres... It's a pretty cool overview. The article observes that novelizations have the following characteristics:
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In summary, on July 20th, there's a special 20th anniversary screening of Labyrinth at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences [Beverly Hills, CA], followed by a live [as opposed to dead, I presume] conversation with Brian Henson, who voiced Hoggle. 

Also, to quote the release, "The Academy’s current exhibition 'It’s Alive!: Bringing Animatronic Characters to Life on Film,' which contains original animatronic puppets from the film, will be open for viewing immediately following the screening." Drat! Actual puppets used in Labyrinth, and I'm not anywhere near California. I'll dig around for some more information on this exhibition and get back to you.

It's not fair.

Here we go, latest press information from the Academy's Web site .
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I just bought a three-comic adaptation of Labyrinth. Published in 1986, this Marvel adaptation came out in three separate issues, which were then collected in a super special. If you watch Ebay, you'll see that the super special appears much more frequently. "What a pity," though, because the individual issues contain exquisitely awful cover art somewhere not duplicated in the super special. 

Anyway, stay tuned to Jareth's Realm because I will scan and upload each volume of the adaptation so that you, too, can see how amusing it is [for all the wrong reasons -- not a funny story, but heinous art]. Until I get a new scanner, please content yourselves with a sample below, illustrating JARETH THE FEARSOME BOOGEYMAN WITH GLOWING CONTACT LENSES OR SOMETHING!
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Toot toot toot! [That was supposed to be a fanfare.] Announcing the inauguration of the Scholarly Articles category at Jareth's Realm, I present you with the first file in this section of your online Labyrinth library! Read an excerpt of the only scholarly treatment ever I've seen of Labyrinth: Elycia Arendt's highfalutin article, The Feminine Spectatorship of Jim Henson's Labyrinth." You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader, but it's worth it for her clueless take on Internet Laby fans and fan fiction.

Click here for my take on the article. My reactions are ranty and disorganized, but I'll let you know when I marshal them into an essay.
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So saith Cosmopolitan's lackluster review of Labyrinth. You can see this review and other vintage memorabilia at the newly updated Jareth's Realm.

If you dislike the hack job that Cosmo did on Labyrinth, you can cheer yourself up with some pretty pictures. I finally got the scans of the beautiful Japanese program moved over to the new location.

I also put up a new 4-page Spanish program. I haven't translated it yet, but you can admire the scans.
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I finally put up all scans of the articles in the Realm gallery and linked the transcriptions to their associated galleries. I still have to put up the activity books and the longer programs up. Hurrah.
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If you've been missing Laby humor, you can now get your fix, since I moved all the comics from the old location to the new one.

Next up: the parodies and the ephemera galleries. Ugh. The ephemera will take a long time. :p
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I just got a chance to read the whole chapter, thanks to some creative messing around with Amazon's "Search Inside the Book!" feature. See below for a summary. Read more... )
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Louisa Hammond, who I shall be forever grateful to because of this, mentioned that the book Braveheart and Broomsticks: Essays on Movies, Myths and Magic by Elycia Arendt, has a chapter all about Labyrinth!!

The chapter is called "The Feminine Spectatorship of Labyrinth on the Internet" and, according to my sources, deals with the sloploads of ooey-gooey "Jareth + Sarah = true lerve 4-ever" fan fiction. Apparently the author argues that these fan fiction rewrites foreclose on the feminist possibilities inherent in Labyrinth.

What a gas. Again Louisa makes my day. I simply must order a copy of this book when I have a spare moment.

Note to self: Look for other similar books mentioning L!!!



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