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Headscratchers: Labyrinth
  • Am I the only one who thinks Jareth is completely hideous? And if so, why is nobody nearly as turned-on by your garden-variety hair metal singer?
    • Why does anyone find anyone attractive? There's no accounting for taste.
    • No, you're not the only one—he's kind of creepy to me.
    • Short answer: Yes, and because it's David Bowie. Long answer: David Bowie is God. Do not question his Reign of Awesome or you shall face the wrath of his mighty codpiece.
    • Actually, he's not all that looks-wise— but as someone who IS turned on by the average garden variety hair metal singer, you have to mention that THIS particular big-haired codpiece wearer has MAGIC POWERS. And a magic kingdom. And, even for a hair metal vocalist, really tight pants.
    • This is kind of a silly question since the entire point of hair metal singers was that they were able to draw a crowd of ridiculously turned on female fans groupies etc. Also, since Bowie is on the short list of rock greats alongside Jagger and Richards, I'd say garden variety is a bit of a misnomer.
      • I think the "garden-variety" part is meant to mean the not-David-Bowie section of the hair-metal crowd.
    • This troper was under the impression that people liked him more for his malevolent elegance, and his total control over the situation, in the same way girls fawn of the Phantom. People are strange.
    • Sexiness is more than just looks, it's also charisma, presence, and just plain old coolness. Something the Goblin King has in goddamn spades. Especially that part where he says - "I will be your slave." Sure, in context it's not so appealing, but the line itself is hot.
    • Hair metal? Glam rock, sure, but David Bowie is not hair metal.
    • They're not looking at his face.
    • I just saw it few days ago and noticed that during the costume changes his tights get tighter and tighter. Watch it yourself if you don't believe me. In the beginning his buldge is barely noticeable, to my dismay. But then in that white flowy outfit at the end.. My god.. And yes I was looking at it the whole time, even when I saw it the first time, I had to be about 10. Pretty sure that movie is solely responsible for my current adult-hood obsession with those damn dangly things all you men have.
  • Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. I saw the books in your room. Hans Christian Andersen, Grimm, Oz, you obviously know your fairy tales and myths very well. And YET, you, when transported into a magical realm, given a fruit by someone who has admittedly been working for your enemy and whose honesty is suspect, without hesitation bite into it, not thinking it might, I don't know, cause you to never be able to leave, invalidate your claim to Toby, poison you, something like that? Why not make it a pomegranate and complete the bloody metaphor. Really, you should not be this Genre Blind when it's obvious you've studied the genre you're somehow fallen into a story of.
    • 15 year old girl, tossed into an extremely stressful situation and offered something seemingly sweet and nice by a person she thinks is their friend. Do you know how many teenage girls get PREGNANT that way every year?
      • By eating a peach? I knew there was a reason I didn't like them.
      • You joke, but there are probably uneducated girls out there who would think that because hey, they've been having sex for years, but three months ago was the first time they'd had a peach with a worm in it...
      • I'm pretty sure that was exactly the point. The pomegranate was a symbol of sexuality and fecundity, peaches (and fruit in general) are generally-speaking plant ovaries, the movie is a metaphor about Sarah's sexual awakening, so of course she falls prey to the temptation. The only issue is with it being couched in fairy-tale trappings which one would think Sarah would be savvy to, but the points below explain why she wouldn't be; in terms of symbolism it may be Anvilicious but if you're going to tell a story with that sort of plot interpretation, it's pretty much unavoidable.
    • You think she really wanted to leave?
      • I certainly wouldn't want to. There's a special hell of boredom reserved back in real life for visitors to fantastical worlds who do. (Well, there ought to be.)
      • Or maybe her hunger and survival instincts, coupled with a growing trust of Hoggle might be enough to excuse her bimbo moment.
    • Even though Sarah was playing pretend at the beginning of the movie, she probably accepted earlier on that the books in her room were fairy tales and that the scenarios presented in them would never happen to her in real life. The labyrinth that she runs around in for most of the movie is a part of her reality and it's not set up like the fairy tales she's familiar with, so she has to go by her own logic in order to reach the Goblin City.
    • Who says she's actually read all those books? Or remembers them? She had a hard time remembering the end of that book she was reading at the beginning of the movie. You know, that book? What was it called? Hmm...wasn't it...The Labyrinth?! Maybe she's only skimmed through them in order to find some bits to act out all alone in a deserted city park.
    • At this point in the movie, Hoggle had recently saved her from the Firies. Sarah had no way of knowing that Jareth had accosted him privately to threaten him, so she would either assume he was trustworthy, or that he had been working for Jareth all along (in which case why save her?).
      • That's the key to it. The stories where the fruit's dangerous usually have a rather obvious antagonist offering the fruit: Hades himself, the snake, a creepy old woman and so on. Hoggle seemed to have proven himself as a loyal friend, so he wasn't on her Genre Savvy radar the way Jareth himself showing up with a peach would have been. The situation's more akin to one the seven dwarves giving Snow White an apple, or Hermes offering Persephone a pomegranate in the midst of their escape. It's a cruel twist in the usual fairy tale motif that would've been obvious if Hoggle hadn't already earned her trust.
      • Of note is that while what happened after the eating of the peach was the work of another script writer, the eating itself and what led up to it was all written by Terry Jones, the man who knows literary and fairy tale motifs like the back of his hand. This twist/inversion was probably deliberate on his part.
  • Apparently, according to the little worm dude, going left would have led Sarah straight to the castle. I find it hard to believe Jareth is that dumb as to have such a huge castle defense system (the maze) be defeatable by GOING LEFT.
    • He probably isn't; the Labyrinth is constantly changing and the worm is (by its own admission) just a worm. It's entirely possible the left path no longer leads directly to the castle, or it wouldn't if Sarah had chosen to go that way.
    • Just because a path goes straight there doesn't mean it's any safer. Even if it was, she was only able to get through the castle itself because of the allies she joined up with going the long way.
    • It can be explained in several way. To say a few:
      • the worm has no sense of scale. He invites Sarah to enter an hole that is just an inch wide. So, the fact that it thinks the left road to be easy and fast is not meaning it is;
      • the whole goblin-world part is a dream and is meant to show Sarah's development. Taking every suggestion to face value without properly investigate on his value is part of her initial silly attitude;
      • the left path is really faster, but not safer at all. To say, it leads to the goblin army training camp. Very fast, but deadly.
      • Where are you getting this "faster and easier" from? The worm never says anything about that path being faster or easier. Just direct.
        Worm: Don't go that way!
        Sarah: What was that?
        Worm: I said, don't go that way! NEVER go that way!
        Sarah: Oh. Thanks!
        Coo, if she'd kept on going down that way, she'd've gone straight to their castle.
      • Here's the scene]
      • What I took this conversation to mean was that if she kept going through the apparently solid wall - like she did to find the two paths she tried - she'd have gone straight to the castle.
      • Even if it's not a dream, Jareth could figure that only people who wouldn't ask the worm follow-up questions or explain to him that the goal IS to get to the castle are the kind of people who would need to get through the labyrinth in the first place, and he wants to savor the delicious irony.
      • Also, assuming it's a real fantasy world, Jareth seems to be compelled to offer Sarah a legitimate chance to solve the labyrinth and save Toby, the way that The Fair Folk usually have to keep their word in a contest with mortals. He can meddle in her adventure as much as he likes, but he can't just run her through with a sword, or bolt all the gates tight and call it a day. Since he has to make the game winnable, the left path really might have been an easy solution that Sarah just missed out on (though I do like the idea that it would have led "straight to the castle" via the goblin training camps).
    • This was a piece of Fridge Brilliance for me. Every time Sarah is offered a choice - the worm, the two guards, the hands' "Up or down?" - she chooses the 'wrong' way. At first, this seems like just What an Idiot. But, once you remember everything's in Sarah's head, it makes sense - she doesn't want to get to the castle. She keeps choosing the path that leads to her spending more time in the fantasy world, rather than the path that will lead to her growing up.
      • She does choose correctly in the "door of certain death" scenario though, at least.
      • Maybe. I've seen her door choice argued both ways ... after all, if not for Hoggle she would have likely died/been trapped (until 'rescued' by Jareth) in the Oubliette.
      • But the oubliette was a separate choice: she chose down. Had she chosen up, she presumably would have been on the right path. And as said, even the oubliette did eventually lead her to the center.
      • The wrong door was supposed to lead to *certain* death. The right door was supposed to lead to the center of the labyrinth. Sarah certainly didn't die, and she did eventually make it to the center.
      • Don't forget that Jareth himself said she shouldn't have gotten as far as the oubliette. That means he knew she was on the right path and that going to the oubliette would help her get to the castle. Even if Hoggle didn't help her, it seems Jareth knew she'd find a way to get past the oubliette once she arrived there.
  • Am I the only one who thought Sarah could have saved herself a bunch of time by climbing onto the walls and just going across? At the very least there wouldn't be any dead ends, and even if the labyrinth itself changed under her feet, she would still have been able to keep her eye on the center to keep a heading, AND avoid a bunch of the traps. I know it wouldn't make for a very interesting movie, and it would go against the premise of the Labyrinth, but still...
    • You know those Flash movies of the "The Way It Should Have Ended" sort? Why doesn't someone make a version ending Labyrinth in this fashion?
    • And who's to say the maze wouldn't grow up to obstruct her anyway?
      • Yes, the Labyrinth seems to have ways of dealing with people who try to circumvent the rules (e.g. what happens when Sarah tries to mark her path). I'm pretty sure that she'd just ascend to yet another equally trippy level of the maze.
      • The sequel manga seems to support this. Toby tries climbing over a stone wall, but the wall keeps growing as he climbs.
      • He's Cheating!
      • I think we can take it as read that if Sarah tries getting cute like that then there is a countermeasure. Look what happened when she tried being Genre Savvy and leaving herself direction marks to prevent her accidentally doubling back. You play the Labyrinth properly, or you don't play at all.
  • Some serious fridge logic here: How does Sarah figure that Toby, who is apparently not quite at the age where he can walk, let alone climb, got her teddy bear down from her weird nook thing on the wall? Or is her melodramatic "He's been in my room again!" some weird, coded way of rationalizing her anger at "My parents are letting my kid sibling play with my toys!"?
    • It's been a while, but I remember the line as "Someone has been in my room again!" which makes a bit more sense since it's Sarah getting upset that either her father or her stepmother came into her room and got into her stuff without asking.
    • Oh, that makes much more sense. Thank you.
  • Okay, yes, now that I'm older I agree that he is sexy, but I actually think that the whole David Bowie's Pants thing is waaaaay out of proportion. I grew up watching this movie (at least once a week from the ages of 13 to 17) and until someone pointed it out it never occurred to me that there was anything odd or eye-catching about his nether regions. Yet if I try to mention this movie to someone, say to discuss the apparent power of words and how they shape chance or reality in the Labyrinth, everyone always starts crying "Crotch! Crotch! Implications of pedophilia!" Am I just being a prude in thinking that everyone harps on a costuming artifact, or is this really a case of a handful of people seeing imaginary crap flying past the radar?
    • Well, most people keep it up because they find it funny. (And really, it's ephebophilia, because Sarah's at least past puberty. Um, I hope.) If you want someone to have a serious discussion about all the story symbolism and putting-away-of-childish-things and metaphor for adolescence, you'll have to get people to shut up first with all the "Crotch! Crotch! Scary puppets! 80's hair!"
      • It's implications of pedophilia if they're talking about Toby. Since when have viewers been squicked by a sixteen-year-old girl and a seven-hundred year old Elfen Prince type character? From his point of view, there's not much difference between sixteen and thirty (physically, anyway, there could be some magical and definitely some psychological differences). The weirdest thing for most people about Sarah and Jareth, if you don't count him being the frickin' Goblin King, is that she nearly falls for a guy (a hypnotist, might I add) who looks like he could be pushing fifty under the makeup.
      • ...and he wasn't even 40 yet!
    • I don't think it's just a costuming artifact, I think it was deliberate. Jareth shows how Sarah's awakening sexuality is affecting her fantasies. She's trying to hold on to her childish games, but her thoughts are turning more and more to sexy men and, well, one part of them in particular. Put it this way: if we saw an adolescent boy's dream world, we wouldn't be at all surprised if it contained a sexy woman with huge boobs who wants to seduce him.
      • Importantly, Sarah's thoughts turn not just to sexy men but to sexy and threatening men, with a certain mystery about them, a total disregard for our Earth logic, and decidedly different anatomy. Our girl is growing up, and guys in general are every bit as cool but infuriating (and illogical) as any good fairy tale villain. To boot, Jareth is king not of the elves, but of the goblins. The rest of them are strange and a little coarse; Jareth is strange and fascinating. If the goblins (and other Labyrinth natives) represent the bulk of the actual males she knows, then Jareth is the threatening exotic adult she might one day fall for. For some day later, not for now.
      • I never thought of it that way before, but in light of all of the above, there is a famous fantasy story that gives us an example of how the female version of Jareth would play out: Jadis the White Queen and how she tries to seduce Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. That's one way to look at both stories: replace surly young Edmund with flighty young Sarah, swap beautiful, dangerous witch-queen Jadis with handsome, dangerous goblin-king Jareth, focus the plot on just the two of them, and you end up with much the same coming-of-age story of a young person going to a fantasy world and being tempted by an evil ruler who they ultimately reject to save their family.
      • That is a fascinating and insightful point. Consider me both intrigued and busily contemplating literary comparison/contrast.
    • Even before I discovered the Interntet and what a Memetic Mutation was, I was always distracted by the bulge.
    • I always guessed that because I'm a male and straight I just never gave Jareth's tights any thought, because I didn't until I watched The Nostalgia Chick's review. I do kind of find it irritating that people regard that as the most memorable part of the movie. And that it's a movie only girls should be into for that matter.
      • It's part of common assumptions about gender and media. Men are considered the default, so stories written about male characters are considered to be appropriate for everyone; stories written about female characters are special-interest media for women. Labyrinth is a story about a girl growing up by discovering responsibility through childcare and sexuality through an older man, so of course only girls have ever seen it.
  • Sarah marks the path she is following as she progresses through the Labyrinth. How will that help her to get out? The arrows should have been pointing in the direction in which she entered each point not the direction she left. Duh.
    • If she goes in a circle, it would let her know that she's been in that spot before, and which exit she took last time.
  • When Hoggle is being petty about the questions Sarah is asking, he finally helps after Sarah asks "how do I get into the Labyrinth?". I always thought that Hoggle should've replied "through the door", conintuing with the badly asked questions.
    • He's got a soft spot for her. She probaby just wore him down.
  • The truth-and-lies puzzle. I know it's been said elsewhere, but I'll say it again because what the hell: She could have solved that puzzle simply by cutting the knot in half and asking either of the guards something patently obvious, like "What color are my eyes?" Granted, the movie would probably have been over in half the time, but it seems so obvious that I'm a little disappointed neither of the guards mentioned it. Something like, "And no sneaky stuff! We know all about logic, and we won't let you off that easy!" Sheesh, that took me a whole ten seconds to type; would it have been so damn hard to toss it in? Then again, given that we only have the guards' word for it, who knows? The whole puzzle might have been rigged from the get-go. Jareth certainly seems like the type, doesn't he?
    • I always thought that the way she asked it was brilliant. She can only ask one question, yet she manages to get both pieces of information- which guard is lying and which is the correct door. By asking "what color are my eyes?" you would find out which is lying, but then what good would that information be since you have used your question?
      • I don't remember her being limited to one question, but then again, it's been a while since I saw it.
      • It's never stated how many questions she can ask, but it is stated that she can only ask one of the guards and not both, presumably to get around exactly that. It's implied that she only gets one question, though.
      • But even if she goes with my solution, she still only needs one question; she would automatically know whether the guard she chooses is a liar or not based on what answer he gives, so there's no need to bother asking the other one. Anyway, if she's only limited to one question, period, then what's the point? Unless she has the gift of second sight, then she's forced to waste her question trying to solve the puzzle, no matter what question she ultimately asks, and then she's stuck; she's solved the puzzle, but since she's now forbidden from asking any more questions, she's just as stuck as she was before and the whole exercise is a massive waste of time. Although, having just reviewed the scene in question, I guess it could be interpreted either way—that she only gets one question, or that she gets as many as she wants but can only ask one of the guards.
    • Listen to Sarah when she's explaining her solution to the guard: If the red guard is lying, then the blue one is telling the truth; but if the blue guard is lying, then the red one is telling the truth. It's called the liar paradox, and if the answer seems like one big contradiction, you've got it.
      • I have NEVER understood that scene, or how the question she asks gets the right answer. I can't make it work out in my head.
      • It's a classic solution to the puzzle, although Sarah's wording is perhaps a little more convoluted than it needs to be. What it works out to is that, by asking one guard what the other one would say, she is getting a yes/no answer that she knows is false, because either the guard she's asking is lying (and the other guard would have told the truth) or the other guard would lie (and the guard she's asking will relay the lie to her honestly).
      • A bit more detail to help it make sense: If the door she indicates leads to the castle and the guard she's asking tells the truth, the other guard (the liar) would tell her it didn't lead there and the guard she asked would tell her this (no); if it didn't, he'd say it does and the guard she asked would tell her that (yes). If the door she indicates leads to the castle and the guard she's asking lies, the other guard (the truth-teller) would tell her it does but the liar she's asking would still say no (no); if it doesn't, the other guard would tell her so but the liar she's asking would say it does (yes). So no matter whether she's asking the truth-teller or the liar, she'll always get a 'no' answer if the door she's indicating leads there and a 'yes' answer if it's the other door.
    • A bit of Fridge Logic about this puzzle: the rules of the puzzle are explained to Sarah by both of the guards.
    RED: No, you can't ask us, you can only ask one of us.
    BLUE: Mm-hm. It's in the rules. And I should warn you that one of us always tells the truth and one of us always lies.
    • I've rewatched the scene and discovered that they're both liars when it suits them, because of one obvious glaring flaw: Blue agrees with Red that there is a rule about asking only one of them. If one always tells the truth and one always lies, then neither of them should ever agree on ANYTHING. If Blue could only tell the truth, then he would tell Sarah that Red is lying and that she can ask both of them. If Blue was the liar, he'd still say Red was lying and that Sarah could ask both of them. And Blue's subsequent statement that Red always lies and Red's denial, proves the point because it was not brought on by a question from Sarah. The only way the two could agree is if they're both liars when it suits them to be. If one of them could only tell the truth and the other could only only lie(or even if they both could only lie), then all their statements lead to paradoxes. Therefore they must be liars when they please.
    • Sarah, of course, accepts the riddle as valid. She really should stop taking things for granted... This was a plot point in the Yu-Gi-Oh version, where Yugi realizes that the premise is invalid and trusts neither of them.
    • Sarah made the correct choice in the end, her logic worked perfectly. She did not take the path to certain death. Yes, she fell down into the oubliette - where Jareth said she shouldn't be because it meant she was getting too close, meaning she was on the right path. She also had the opportunity to go back up to the surface, via the helping hands, but didn't - and this too was the correct choice. She reached the castle and saved Toby in the end. The subversion is that while she made the correct choice, it didn't have to appear correct to Sarah (and thus the audience) at the time, in order to reinforce the theme of not taking things for granted.
  • This is a JBM mixed with Fridge Horror. Is it possible that the masquerade scene wasn’t just a dream? Jareth was there, and the masks everyone wore resembled goblins. What if that peach transported her to the castle/allowed Jareth to do it easily, as well as making her perceive everything wrong? What she thought was a ball full of masked humans was really just a room full of goblins laughing at her as she stumbled about and danced with the King. It all sounds completely nuts till you realize when she woke up she fell out of the sky. Now why would she need to be transported, especially in a direction that took her closer to the castle...
    • Well, if you remember, Jareth had sent out the crystal bubbles; perhaps they were sent out to capture her once the peach incapacitated her. So who is to say she wasn't magically transported into the crystal while she dreamed? Also, if you watch the following scene where the goblin soldier comes in to tell Jareth that Sarah was entering the Goblin City, Jareth didn't really seem to know what was going on. I think he had been confident that the peach would knock her out for the rest of her time there. He seemed rather surprised about the whole thing.
    • Or, Jareth thought for sure she'd become a junk lady and never leave the dump after she broke free of the crystal, going with the theory that all the junk ladies were once human and they were trying to turn her into one of them. So when he heard she'd actually resisted him, it came as a shock.
  • Okay, so putting even one foot in the Bog of Eternal Stench is enough to stink, yet it's okay to walk across rocks that are wet from the bog?
    • It may be fairy-tale logic at work: the Exact Words are that if you dip even a small part of yourself in the Bog, it will stink. Touching rocks that are damp from the Bog doesn't count as dipping any part of yourself into the Bog, thus, no eternal stink.
  • How does Jareth know plastic is tacky and cheap, when Hoggle doesn't? Does this prove the fan theory that Jareth is a kidnapped child, brought into the Underground to rule the Goblins? Or does it simply suggest he has had much more contact with the mortal world that the other inhabitants of the Underground?
    • Probably. But it might not actually be tacky and cheap from Hoggle's POV- the Labyrinth and the goblins' world being almost in some kind of fantastical Medieval Stasis, plastic is a novelty, and Hoggle treats it as something rare and valuable. Jareth would know otherwise.
  • Am I the only one who thinks Jennifer Connelly's acting was okay, as opposed to Bad Bad Acting? Obviously not great, but people seem to forget that 90% of teens, and even young twenty-somethings, just don't have enough emotional resources (or even training) to do a good job even with a great director to help. This is why Dawson Casting is so prominent, and maybe a bit of a vicious cycle: Directors know that teens and twenty-year-olds are barely trained and may not be able to handle certain issues, so they cast older but more experienced actors instead, so the few times that people see an actual teenager cast as a teenager, they call it bad acting because they're used to the more in-depth and nuanced acting of older people. Connelly did a good job for her age back then, even if she understandably doesn't like watching her younger self on screen.

KrullHeadscratchers/FilmLand of the Dead

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