Film Highlight: Labyrinth

When Jim Henson co-wrote and directed this musical fantasy in the mid-'80s, he must have had visions of his Muppet dynasty spreading to somewhere over the rainbow. Although the mood and humor remain entirely Muppet-like, the film's story follows The Wizard of Oz almost step for step, with a maze for a yellow brick road, goblins rather than munchkins, Jennifer Connelly in place of Judy Garland, and David Bowie instead of the Wicked Witch. (Henson even included a surreal dream sequence that mirrors Oz's poppy-field scene.) The whirlwind begins when Sarah (Connelly) unknowingly invokes the goblins to come and carry away her whiny little stepbrother. Then enters Jareth the Goblin King (an ever-so-glam Bowie), vowing to transform the toddler into one of his green minions unless Sarah can make her way through an unmerciful labyrinth in just 13 hours. Labyrinth does lose itself somewhat whenever Bowie interrupts the action with his spacey, synthesized pop slop. But we can excuse any such transgression, because Henson creates a dream world worthy of all other great '80s fantasy films, including The Neverending Story and Henson's earlier all-puppet epic The Dark Crystal.

 
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