A combination of science fiction, fantasy, puppets and David Bowie led to the ’80s film Labrynth.
The screenplay was written by Monty Python’s Terry Jones based on a story written by Canadian author/poet Dennis Lee and directed by Muppets creator Jim Henson.
The storyline focuses on 15 year old Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), who resents the attention given to her baby brother Toby. She is typical teen girl, annoyed by most things and feeling bored with the world.
But when Toby is kidnapped by the Jareth the Goblin King (Bowie), Sarah is propelled into action and must figure out a maze to find her brother through the assorted creatures played by puppets, all created in Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
Influences spotted through the story relate to Henson’s Fraggle Rock tv series, as well as to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and the famous story/film The Wizard of Oz.
During the 13 hours Sarah must rely on clues and her wit to discover the path through the maze to find Toby – and use the creatures to her advantage.
Released in June 1986 in the US and November 1986 in the UK, the film got a lot of early promotion thanks to big features in the New York Times, Time and Billboard, as Bowie had recorded five original songs for the soundtrack.
Reportedly costing $25 million in production costs, Labrynth was a box office disappointment, making less than half in it initial release.
But in the years since its release, its developed a cult following among fantasy fans for its depiction of a world dominated by puppet creatures, a young Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie.