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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Only Fifteen

Labyrinth (1986) on IMDb

Plot Overview

A mysterious owl patrols the park where fifteen-year-old Sarah (played by 14-year-old Jennifer Connelly) rehearses her leading role in The Labyrinth: “Give me the child. My will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great ——” She has trouble remembering the last line. Suddenly aware of the time, she and her dog Merlin make a dash for home as they're pelted with a rain.

Once in the door her stepmother (Shelley Thompson) castigates her, “Sarah, you're late,” as she wants to “ask you to baby-sit” while she and Sarah's dad go out to a show. Sarah complains that her step­mom is taking advantage of her, not asking about her plans first. Step­mom replies that she is unaware of any plans Sarah has, figuring she'd have told her if she had any. “You should have dates at your age,” she adds. Then it's off to the show leaving Sarah stuck to mind her baby half-brother Toby (Toby Froud.)

Sarah's room is full of books such as The Wizard of Oz and replete with a stuffed doll collection, one of which is missing from its spot (“Lancelot!”) having been sacrificed to Toby for his amuse­ment. Toby is whining beyond comfort, so Sarah calls out, “Some­one save me! Some­one take me away from this awful place.”

The stuffed toys in her closet perk up, “She called on the goblins for help.” She dons a spiral candy-striped beret matching her brother's candy-striped jammies, and as the dolls encourage her to “Say the words” and the owl shape-shifts into the Goblin King Jareth (pop star David Bowie), she quotes a line from the play, “Take this child of mine far away from me.” She adds the coup de grace, “I wish the goblins would come and take you away … right now.” Then she leaves the room, and the crying stops (“Toby!”)

The kid is gone and she can't undo it (“What's said is said.”) She requests the goblin king to “Please bring him back,” but he replies, “He's there in my castle, the castle beyond the Goblin City.” Sarah determines to set off through the labyrinth at the foot of the castle, but is told, “It's farther than you think. Time is short. You have thirteen hours to solve the labyrinth” after which baby brother will become one of the goblins. The owl flies away, and Sarah sets out.


The parents had a date for a show of unspecified type. These cover a certain range, as indicated in Cyndi Haynes & Dale Edwards's Dating Hand­book: 79. “Enjoy a stage musical; 1339. See a movie; 1751. Be adventurous and try experimental theater; 1754. When you can't make it to Broad­way, go see a local play;” etc. So much for the boring old folks.

Sarah, according to her stepmom, now has the option of dating. How would she go about it? In the labyrinth is a gargoyle guard who tells Sarah, “Knock and the door will open.” That's reflexive of the words of our Lord, (Matt. 7:7) “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Dad had to ask mom for a date (or vice versa), you or I might have to pick up the phone and call our available options, and in Bible times a great king, we suppose, sent couriers to request dates of the girls he likes: (Esther 2:14), “she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.” Sarah is not with­out recourse, as she says in her narrative: “that the king of the goblins had fallen in love with the girl, and he had given her certain powers. So one night, when the baby had been particularly cruel to her, she called on the goblins for help.”

What kind of a date will she have with the king of the goblins? Consulting The Dating Handbook, we read: “1849. Have a fun evening baby-sit­ting together; 1271. Get lost in a maze; 1155. To get your heart pumping, go through a haunted house; & 1315. Dance the night away.” That about nails it as she goes from sharing her baby-sitting duty with Jareth, to negotiating a maze, to exploring the castle & its environs, and ending up losing her­self in the embrace of the king as they dance together in a spell. Come to think of it, isn't a date—especially a first date—like negotiating a maze with all its dead ends, rewards, pit­falls, and embarrassments? The king for his part was on his best behavior (for a goblin king.) He points out to his frustrated girl:

Escher stairsSarah: “Give me the child.”

Jareth: “Sarah, beware. I have been generous up till now. I can be cruel.”

Sarah: “Generous? What have you done that's generous?”

Jareth: “Everything! Everything that you wanted I have done. You asked that the child be taken. I took him. You cowered before me, I was frightening. I have reordered time. I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations. Isn't that generous?”

This movie turns out to be a good primer on first dates. The Dating Handbook has a list of WHAT NOT TO DO ON FIRST DATES (123), which includes: “Be late.” Sarah had to ask the goblins to come now to get it started. “Make the date too long.” It was especially urgent that Sarah return her brother to his bed by thirteen o'clock, i.e. mid­night in real time when their folks were due back. And, “Be ‘too nice’.” This last was definitely not a problem for this couple.

Production Values

This film, “Labyrinth” (1986) was directed by Jim Henson, best known for his works “Sesame Street” and “The Muppet Show”. The screen­play was written by Terry Jones, based on a story by Dennis Lee and the above film­maker Jim Henson. It stars David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. They put in choice per­form­ances. Connelly is luscious and sweet as teenaged Sarah, and David Bowie fills out his dominating role completely as a goblin king to be reckoned with. Shari Weiser was well chosen for the role of the dwarf Hoggle. The rest of the cast did okay, as well.

The film is rated PG. With the exception of the owl, the muppet-like characters were physical creations, not CGI. Alex Thomson's appealing wide­screen cinema­tog­raphy makes this film memor­able. The musical score by Trevor Jones fits the picture well as do songs by the distin­guished David Bowie. The latter's priapic costume, how­ever, is a bit of a distraction.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This is a fun film fit for the whole family. Adults will find it cute while at the same time it seems to engage in stealth preparation helping growing children to eventually date. The first date may be unavoid­ably scary, but this film champions the hope that it is, well, survivable.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed fun. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Haynes, Cyndi and Dale Edwards. 2002 Things To Do On a Date. Holbrook, MA: Bob Adams Pub., 1992. Print.