Saturday, 15 October 2016

Archetypes - Labyrinth

Fig 01

If you grew up in the 80’s, you will probably remember sitting down as kid to watch the fantasy world of Labyrinth  directed in 1986  by Jim Henson and produced by George Lucas. In a child’s eye, the film is a typical fairy tale adventure, with funny looking fury characters that sing and a pond that has farting stones when you walk across them. However, from a adults perspective, the film has darker undertones that depicts the ego of heroine ‘Sarah’ Jennifer Connelly as she begins her journey from childhood into adulthood. 

Sarah ‘The Hero’, is a daydreaming teenager, that is locked into a imaginary world with the help of aids that clutter her room, from Labyrinth board games, Fairy Tale books, stuffed toys and M. C. Escher’s Staircase art, that all become significant characters and environments as she travels through the film. Having to babysit her younger brother ‘The Child and Herald” ’Toby’ as her parents are going out, she throws a typical teenage hissyfit as she is unable to carry on her child like games, and forced to take more adult responsiblities with the choir of Toby. Wishing her brother to be taken away to the Goblin Palace by the imaginary characters in her make belief world, Sarah has set the path for her own discovery of adulthood and the journey into her psyche begins. “In Jung, the Labyrinth is also an image of the individual’s unconscious psyche. We will see Sarah fall several times in the film, deeper and deeper into the labyrinth. In “The Process of Individuation” by M.L. von Franz in Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols, explains of the meaning of the labyrinth as subconscious” Dyer. J, 2010,

Sarah is given the option, by ’The Shadow’, ‘The Goblin King’ (Fig 03) to stay at home and stay young, or to enter the labyrinth and save Toby. Deciding to enter the Labyrinth we enter into Sarah’s psyche as she takes the first steps of discovery. Seeing as this is intended for child viewing, there are some very graphic innuendos and symbols (Fig 02, 03) that also shows the sexual journey, that does not really make sense to adolescents of the transformation between child and adult. The film is littered with phallus objects and scenes of a hidden sexual nature. “Sarah is trapped inside an “orb” and the ballroom scene. Phallic references are rife amongst the adults who wear demon masks. At one level, this is Sarah passing into the realm of adulthood, whose pleasures don’t make sense to her. The Goblin King, as the devil character, decides to take the virgin bride for himself (as Sarah is dressed in white). While drugged, she is initiated into The Goblin Kings cult in a “dance” that clearly hints at orgy”Dyer. J, 2010. (Fig 05, 06, 07) 

                                            Fig 02                                            Fig 03                                       Fig 04

Fig 05                                            Fig 06                                       Fig 07

Before Sarah enters the Labyrinth, she stumbles across “Hoggle”, “The Shape-shifter” who is urinated into a pond. Again there is sexual connotations for the adult viewers that the child wont get. After his relief, Hoggle sets about poisoning fairies with what seems like nerve gas, offending Sarah as she thinks fairies are innocent creatures, only to be bitten by one she tries to help, showing to the viewer that not all is what it seems when you are child.  After mind games Hoggle reveals the entrance to the Labyrinth ‘The Threshold Guardian’ and Sarah begins her journey. Being misled by Hoggle, but as the story unfolds there begins a attraction between the two characters and Hoggle comes to save the day and destroy another ‘Threshold Guardian’.

Once inside the Labyrinth, Sarah is faced by confusion and riddles, from the hidden passages in the walls to characters that turn her markings around on the paving slabs (Fig 08, 09), causing her distress of not knowing what is going on, only for the film to fall deeper into her psyche “She thinks she has it figured out, and assumes she has solved the Scotty-dog’s riddles, but as a result ends up “falling” even deeper into her subconscious” (Fig, 010). Here there seems to be a good boundary between good and evil. Sarah finds her “Allies”, ‘The Trickster’ Ludo, who is being attacked by the Goblin kings hench trolls and ’Sir Didymus’ who guards the bridge at ‘the bog of eternal stench’ it seems that these characters symbolise the good qualities needed in adult life, Ludo, the caring giant and Sir Didymus, my word is my bond (Fig, 11).

                       Fig 08                                                  Fig 09                                                 Fig 010

                                                                                    Fig 11

Once Sarah reaches the Goblin Palace, she is confronted by M.C Escher’s painted stairs, Toby and The Goblin King defy gravity walking along walls and upside down stairs, This seems to be the beginning of the realisation that she is now a adult, and taking a leap of faith, into her ego, crumbling the Goblin Palace and is confronted by the Goblin King who wants to keep her in her child like state. But as Sarah has taken the step to becoming a adult, destroys 'The Shadows' ego, returning her back to reality.

Dyer, J. (2016) Film Review: ‘Labyrinth’ At:

Illustration List:
Figure 2. Maze At: Accessed on: 12/09/2016
Figure 4. Sarah At: Accessed on: 12/09/2016
Figure 5-11. Labyrinth Accessed on: 12/09/2016

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this, Mark - noticed a couple of typos or incorrect word replacements: you've got 'fury creatures' when I think you mean 'furry' and 'choir' instead of 'care'? In terms of the Harvard method, you need to look again at your citations, as they should be written in brackets following the quote and written thus (Dyer, 2016). Other formatting stuff includes ensuring all your quotes are in italics, your film and painting titles too. What this review gives a sense of is genuine examination - and how a new theoretical idea has opened up a familiar text to you in new and revealing ways; in this way, I'd suggest that writing this review has been time well-spent :)