Monday, April 9, 2012

Labyrinthian

Sometimes I feel like I spruik the virtues of The Astor Theatre so often that I work there. That's no the case, no. I just live with somebody who does. Still, does one really need to be accused of bias when discussing Jim Henson's Labyrinth? Surely not, for you see it's currently showing at The Astor for an 8-day rerelease engagement and I honestly can't implore you enough to go and see it. I wrote some words about the film over the weekend at Trespass Magazine that should, hopefully, go some distance to convincing you to take the plunge if you a) never have, or b) haven't for some time. I remember watching the film, the box office failure of which has been said sent Henson into depression, many, many years ago on a Sunday afternoon on ABC and the memories stuck: those fabulous creatures, the oddball David Bowie who I only knew from a few mainstream charting songs seen on Video Hits, the wonderful sets that are truly a marvel of design... seeing it all again digitally remastered on the big screen was just magic, too.

I'd like to think that people who recently got into The Muppets' 21st century reboot would give Labyrinth a chance, even if it wears its 1980s imagery with pride. Sure, there's an immense sense of joy to be had in seeing films that are as incredibly dated as this - how, for instance, did a film aimed primary at children get away with so many close-ups of David Bowie's prominent crotch? - but the film's virtues are so much greater than just kitsch and nostalgia. If you have ever hoped that big budget special effects extravaganza's had less special effects, then Labyrinth is the film for you. In fact, there's a certain amount of irony to be found in realising the movie's most visually unappealing moment, at least in 2012, is the "fire dance" scene that was the lone moment of the film to lean exclusively on computer graphics to achieve its look.


And if the visuals, fabulous storytelling and creativity aren't enough to get your bum in a seat then why not the rather fabulous soundtrack by David Bowie and Trevor Jones. Jones' original score doesn't get much praise, especially when placed within close proximity to divine original Bowie tracks like "Underground" and "Magic Dance", but it's a sublimely atmospheric piece of work full of synthesisers, saxophones, guitars and drums. It's as '80s as it gets and it's wonderful. Bowie, it must be said, is a hoot as the Goblin King and was early proof that was sure to become one of the more interesting musician-to-actors out there (further evidenced by The Man Who Fell To Earth, The Prestige, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and so on). With his massive hair and flamboyantly outfits he is such a presence on screen that even if he was embarrassed by it then he certainly knew how to make it look like he was having a blast.


Sadly, only those in or around Melbourne will get the chance to witness this world first, but hopefully those who can take the trip through the labyrinth that is so richly rewarding.

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