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Fridge / Labyrinth

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As a Fridge subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.

Fridge Brilliance

  • Sarah's real mother (as seen in gossip rags) was dating an actor, depicted in a news article by a photograph of David Bowie. Since the entire film is basically Sarah's fantasy, of course the Goblin King would resemble someone dating her mother! The Novelization is more blunt about this, as it goes further into Sarah's backstory via a Flashback or two.
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  • Ambrosius is another name for Merlin.
  • The movie inverts all of the fairy tale books seen on Sarah's shelf at the start of the film.
    • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Sarah sets off into the Labyrinth, which has no clear path (the opposite of the Yellow Brick Road, where you only have to stay on the path to be safe). She meets Hoggle (all brains), Ludo (all heart), and Sir Didymus (all courage). Dorothy pledges to help her companions on their own quests, where Sarah's companions aren't really seeking anything and choose to help her on hers. She must rescue her little brother Toby instead of her dog Toto. The Junk Lady corresponds loosely to the Wicked Witch of the West, who wants to keep her there and make her one of The Junk Lady's kind, instead of killing her and taking her shoes. Dorothy's power is her innocence, whereas Sarah's is gained through maturity and coming of age. The poppy scene corresponds loosely to the peach scene. The aesops are inverted: "Every now and again in my life, for no reason at all, I need you [i.e. imagined things]" versus "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, l won't look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn't there I never really lost it to begin with." Almost the first thing we learn in Oz is that good things are beautiful and bad are ugly, while we learn the opposite at the start of the Labyrinth with Hoggle and the pixies. To defeat the Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy must first enter into subservience to her, whereas to defeat Jareth, Sarah must utterly reject subservience to him. The parallels go on, if you're looking for them, and many (like the sidekicks) seem less-than-coincidental.
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    • "Cinderella": Sarah sees herself as a Cinderella figure at the start of the story. She despises her stepmother and half-brother and describes herself as "practically a slave," while her stepmother complains, "She treats me like a wicked stepmother in a fairy story no matter *what* I say..." But of course, the "wicked" step-mother and half-brother are decent people, while the sparkly king is the villain. The ballroom scene, which is a huge shout-out to Cinderella (especially with that white ballgown), is sinister rather than triumphant. And instead of spending the story trying to escape an "evil" family by marrying a "perfect" king, she's trying to rescue and reconnect with her family, while avoiding the lure of the seductive prince. Also, while Cinderella starts off as a slave, and ends as a princess, Sarah, in a sense, is a "princess" from the start, as emphasized by her Meaningful Name, and Jareth ultimately wishes to make her obey him completely.
      • It also means that instead of finding status to take her away from her family, she sets aside her fantasies to at least accept her family. This works especially well in the context of the less sympathetic interpretation of Sarah's parents, as the stepmother's implied disdain for her means that rather than escaping an abusive home through magic and fantasy, Sarah takes what she learns home with her to help her cope.
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    • "The Little Mermaid": The mermaid leaves her family to enter a race against time, to be with a prince she doesn't even know. Sarah on the other hand is in a race against time to rescue a family member, and resist the urge to leave her family for the Goblin King. Also, Sarah's dog Merlin (and by extension, Ambrosious) resembles Prince Eric's dog Max, from the Disney version of "The Little Mermaid" (though this is a coincidence, since Disney's "Little Mermaid" came out in 1989, three years after "Labyrinth").
    • "Beauty and the Beast": Many people have noted that Jareth's ballroom attire resembles the Beast's from the famous Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. (This is also a coincidence though, since Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" came out in the '90s, long after Labyrinth.) While Belle must learn not to judge a beast by his looks, Sarah is faced with the opposite lesson of not judging a handsome but sinister king by his looks.
  • The major characters in the Labyrinth stand for family members Sarah must learn to deal with in a mature way.
    • Ludo, the slow-minded innocent beast, is like a baby, who Sarah must be patient and gentle with (like Toby).
    • Sir Didymus is a wild, nasty-tempered and single-minded little creature, like a young child - but ultimately caring and unwaveringly loyal, like one's own child or younger sibling.
    • Hoggle acts harsh towards Sarah, but secretly cares for her, like her father and stepmother. Sarah must learn to look past his harsh words and see that he really cares about her.
    • Jareth stands for adults who are unfair towards Sarah. The way to deal with them is to remind herself, "You have no power over me."
    • The two door knockers who are always arguing over trivial things? Since Sarah's parents divorced, she no doubt spent her childhood listening to them argue and insult one another. She must learn to tune out their arguments, and try to deal with each of them as patiently as possible.
      • Additionally, the solution to the two door knockers' riddle is to ask what the other would say if they were asked, which resembles the "ask your mother/father" approach to parenting.
    • The Wise Man and his phallic hat probably stem from her relationships at school. Her school life isn't seen or mentioned, but it doesn't have to be; we can safely guess that she has trouble accepting attention from boys, with her fear of growing up, and the fact that (as her stepmother says) she's never had a date. The hat (which is clearly shaped a male symbol) wolf-whistles at Sarah—not in a taunting or cruel way, but in a light humorous way—and Sarah gives a small smile, unsure how to react to this attention. The hat stands for the boys at her school, who want to get close to her, and who she's shy around. The wise man stands for her teachers, who probably want to help her mature (but are always interrupted by heckling class clowns).
  • The dancers in the ball scene are not just an illusion, they are Jareth's goblins in disguise. If you look carefully, many if not all of their masks match up with individual goblins seen following Jareth around. (For one example, the woman whose mask has a bird beak and a unicorn horn matches with a goblin who has a bird beak and a horned helmet.) If one follows the theory that every goblin was once a human child who was wished away, then their human appearance in the ball scene might reflect how they "really" look, without the goblin curse on them.
  • The word oubliette comes from the French word for "forget". It really is literally a place you put people to forget about them.
  • Sarah and Hoggle are actually very similar people and go through the same personal journey. Sarah begins the story acting very childish, selfish and mean - ugly on the inside. Hoggle begins the same way, although he is also ugly on the outside. Together they learn to be kind and selfless over the course of the movie.
  • Everything that happens in the play Sarah is rehearsing happens in Jareth's world, including the kidnapping of a child. Everything he's done is what she wanted, which gives strong evidence that yes, it's All Just a Dream‎.
  • The cannonball goblins are portrayed as being rather dumb; well, since they're constantly blasted through walls and other hard objects/beings, it's not like they won't suffer some brain damage (regardless of how madcap the entire goblin race is). Can also double as Fridge Horror.
  • The theme of not taking things for granted is prevalent across the movie, besides that little lecture Hoggle gives Sarah:
    • She tells Jareth the Labyrinth is a piece of cake, assuming he can't do anything to change the stakes - which he does immediately.
    • She assumes the fairies are sweet, when they're actually biting pests.
    • She tries to mark her path through the Labyrinth, not thinking that it might punish her for doing so.
    • After guessing the correct door, she once again brags that the Labyrinth is a piece of cake. She assumes she's found her way and the Labyrinth once again punishes her for being Wrong Genre Savvy.
    • When getting directions from the worm in the wall, she takes his response for granted that he's giving her the right way. If she'd known to ask more questions, she could have had her way to the castle almost immediately.note 
  • The above is contrasted nicely with the Junk Lady scene. Sarah doesn't take it for granted that she's back in her room and becomes Genre Savvy enough to know that the entire Labyrinth is a Secret Test of Character.

Fridge Horror

  • In the music video for Underground by David Bowie, the actor/singer who plays Jareth, it is heavily implied Jareth was once a human singer who accidentally slipped into Labyrinth and then willingly chose to go back, eventually becoming king somehow. This means that he isn't some king from a far land/dimension who wouldn't know the etiquette of the "real" world enough to know not to stalk a teenage girl and steal her step-brother because he loves her but instead a man who knows very well how sinister and perverted that is. Thus this 80s teenage-girl fantasy about becoming more mature and hardened by life while facing an incredibly attractive and dominant king who knows little of her world and is omnipotent and manipulative turns into a movie about a girl kidnapped by a man who was once in her world, chose to leave it, and spent his time after gaining all of his power to stalk her, fantasize about her enough to create that ball scene and so much else for her own fantasies, and overall try to groom her into becoming a puberty-stricken queen in a lonely man's mind palace. This might've been obvious to some people regardless, but to me it adds a whole other level to how dark the movie is in concept. It's one thing to romantically pursue a child and kidnap a baby while threatening its well-being if that's a normal thing to do where Jareth comes from. It seems like an entirely different matter to do so when you realise it may very well be that he did know, existed in a times when such people are shamed and go to jail, and still do it anyway. He could have done much, much worse in his life away from the underground before the movie, and we watch with some joy as a teenage girl and her brother are just dropped into the world of a possibly already experienced sexual predator.
  • In Labyrinth when Sarah has her memories wiped, she is taken care of by a garbage hag, who wears a ton of garbage on her back. When she insists that everything that Sarah truly loves or needs are her toys and mementos, she piles them on Sarah's back, much like her own mountain of junk. This implies that she is trying to turn Sarah into another garbage hag, which in turn implies that the garbage hag might be another girl who failed to rescue her brother from Jareth. To make matters worse, you see that there are at least half a dozen others in the background, maybe more. Indeed, there may be hundreds or thousands, since when Sarah first ran into the garbage hag, she mistook her for another heap of junk because she was lying there doing nothing.
    • The Bog of Eternal Stench. Supposedly, if you come in contact with its mud or water, you smell bad forever. While not addressed any further than that within the context of the movie, this presumably means a lifetime of rejection and loneliness until you're driven to madness or suicide. Or you become sort of a "bog monster" (not necessarily physically deformed, but people might call you that) who tries to trick or force people into the bog in an attempt to create companions (although Sir Didymus seems pretty friendly, and he claims not to smell the bog).
  • Sarah is set up to just be a spoiled brat, but looking at her life before she ends up in the Labyrinth, her situation really isn't fair. Her mother is out of the picture. Her father couldn't be less interested in her. Her stepmother expects her to be a live-in babysitter, and when Sarah protests this, Stepmom goes straight to Dad to tell on her without mentioning the part where she never asked Sarah to babysit and not-so-subtly implied that Sarah doesn't deserve to be acknowledged or respected because she doesn't have a boyfriend. And now she has a baby brother who is either dumped in her lap as the aforementioned live-in sitter, or a sponge that needs constant care and attention. Given Toby's age, she had all this crap piled on her shoulders when she was just starting middle school, widely considered one of the worst and most vulnerable parts of adolescence. Of course she escapes into books and toys and play-acting! It's the only place she can go where anyone actually gives a shit about her. That's basically what it means when all the characters from the Labyrinth appear in her bedroom after she tells them that she does need them, the world around her hasn't changed, but she can let go of her anger and frustration about it once she has a way to give herself the care she needs.
    • Sarah's stepmother has no way to relate to Sarah, except through the world of dating. And if it's true that Sarah is in middle school, she's too young to date! So basically, the stepmother is saying that Sarah has to babysit until she's old enough to date — or until her stepmother pushes her into dating at an earlier age than she's ready to do.
    • The Wiki places her at 15 in the film.
    • There's also the moment where Sarah finds one of her stuffed animals in Toby's room. It's easy to dismiss her anger over this as nothing more than a tantrum, but if her dad and/or stepmother really think nothing of giving her belongings to her brother without even asking her first, that by itself doesn't signal good things about the way she's being treated. Parental Favoritism is the absolute kindest way of putting it.
  • What would have happened if Sarah failed? Losing Toby is horrific alone, but would Jareth let Sarah go home? Keep her lost in the labyrinth forever? Given how inappropriate his interest in her can come off as (see above), would he have tried to marry her?
    • Going off of what’s known, I assume it might have been “Fear me, love me,” but as a demand rather than an offer.
  • Say Jareth did win and kept Toby, but let Sarah go home. The poor girl would be traumatized by losing her brother already, but how could she possibly explain to her dad and stepmom why he's gone? The whole family would need serious therapy.


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