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Episode #91: LABYRINTH

  

161 members have voted

  1. 1. Is LABYRINTH Canon?

    • Yes!
      74
    • Throw it in the Bog of Eternal Stench
      87


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I don't mean to come off as challenging, or attacking, anyone. I just absolutely agree with recent sentiments raised during the Breakfast at Tiffany's (which I still don't like) or Labyrinth episodes. There needs to be a stronger focus, if not on female filmakers (I've recently been put in my place by other threads as to how little I know about the subject), at least on what films women grew up loving. Men's 80s/90s nostalgia is well-represented thus far, so why not try to make good on women's nostalgia to keep pace? Working Girl and Election aren't my thing (sorry), but I'm sure there must be others.

 

I just want to note here, with all due respect, that you are kind of talking out of both sides of your mouth on this one.

 

You say that this isn't just about people not voting in your personal favorites, and that you are just interested in seeing representation in the Canon for films that are about women or that are nostalgia objects for women. Yet at the same time you mentioned the inclusion of Breakfast At Tiffany's and Working Girl, two films for which the strongest argument is ABSOLUTELY their importance to young women, and you dismiss these choices because you are not personally a fan of those films. So are we sure it's not just about seeing your favorites inducted?

 

Maybe Labyrinth isn't drawing as much support not because of any bias against women's movies, but because people just don't like it as much. They might like it more than The Goonies (based on the comments it does seem like this is the case), but not quite enough for Canon status.

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Maybe Labyrinth isn't drawing as much support not because of any bias against women's movies, but because people just don't like it as much. They might like it more than The Goonies (based on the comments it does seem like this is the case), but not quite enough for Canon status.

 

I enjoy Goonies more, but I think Labyrinth is a better candidate for the Canon.

 

And if we're comparing the vote results of Labyrinth with Breakfast at Tiffany's we should keep in mind that Amy and Devin gave the former a pretty clear no and the latter an enthusiastic yes, which has to have a strong pull on the direction of the vote.

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I am just deeply sad that "Labyrinth" won't make it into the canon.

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My biggest nostalgia movie is probably Batman (1989) and I'm perfectly fine with it not being in the canon. Some movies just don't hold up under close examination. That absolutely doesn't mean you can't enjoy them.

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I really hate to make this argument but I wonder what you got out of watching Batman and I really don't want to diminish your feelings or trivialize your experience. Your Nostalgia for Batman is valid. I love Batman but when I watched Labyrinth I got the really visceral experience of seeing myself represented on screen. I have an incredible amount of anxiety and watching Labyrinth was an opportunity to see a girl taking control of her situation and being really comfortable with herself and not getting punished for that. Yes this movie is not perfect but my feelings for it are not as simple as nostalgia. I grew up with a lot of really dude heavy content and for me Labyrinth is the rare example of a movie that really enforces femininity and confidence and all the things I wasn't seeing in my comics or in my life.

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First of all if you want more people to vote you really should make this website a lot easier to use. Second of all if you put up Labyrinth and Dark Crystal and had people vote either one of those into the canon or neither of them then they would be so in right now. There are Labyrinth people and there are Dark Crystal people and never the two shall meet. Whole relationships have met their demise based upon this argument. Long terms ones.

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This is my first post, so forgive any newbie transgressions.

 

Labyrinth, IMO, is Canon-worthy, if only to immortalize the amazing puppetry on display. You could argue Dark Crystal has better --or more elaborate-- puppet performers, but the performances aren't as refined as they are here with all the dance numbers.

 

I vote YES! (Love the show by the way. Easily my new favorite podcast.)

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I really hate to make this argument but I wonder what you got out of watching Batman and I really don't want to diminish your feelings or trivialize your experience. Your Nostalgia for Batman is valid. I love Batman but when I watched Labyrinth I got the really visceral experience of seeing myself represented on screen. I have an incredible amount of anxiety and watching Labyrinth was an opportunity to see a girl taking control of her situation and being really comfortable with herself and not getting punished for that. Yes this movie is not perfect but my feelings for it are not as simple as nostalgia. I grew up with a lot of really dude heavy content and for me Labyrinth is the rare example of a movie that really enforces femininity and confidence and all the things I wasn't seeing in my comics or in my life.

 

Sure those are really good reasons to enjoy Labyrinth, and I like it for those reasons as well even if I'm not speaking from a perspective that identifies as closely with it as you do. Batman is certainly not unique in those ways; it's just a movie I thought was fucking awesome when I saw it in the theater at seven years old.

 

For me, the fairest way to decide whether or not I want to vote for something is to judge it based on the quality of the storytelling. Sometimes cultural impact can sway me, but poor storytelling is something I try to be careful not to reward. A lot of of people would argue Pennies From Heaven is bad storytelling, but I feel like it painted this beautifully complex landscape of human emotion, and it sustained that for the entire picture. Not all of it was perfect, but I think they pulled it off. Labyrinth has SO much going for it but it drags in a way that wasn't necessary. Poor editing, an ever changing script, it almost doesn't matter what caused it because it has problems that are unfortunately very common. The reasons you love it are the same reasons I think it deserves to be a tighter film experience. It deserves to be a movie that anyone would want to watch again and again so that those strong feminist themes get as much exposure as possible. Right? As it is I just feel like it's wonky and a little disappointing. It's not something I would recommend to people that enjoy good movies no matter what they're about. I think it's sort of stuck in a niche when it didn't have to be.

 

But I love that it means so much to you. That's a very positive thing. I think 5-10 years from now we could easily see someone make an amazing Labyrinth homage that will blow people's minds. There are absolutely some great ideas in there.

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My only other point would be that while some of the mistakes in this movie are unforgivable it is for children and I think some of the meandering visual gags are designed to hold their attention. That doesn't excuse it but I think that it changes some of how I perceive it as an adult.

 

PS Batman is fucking awesome.

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I just want to note here, with all due respect, that you are kind of talking out of both sides of your mouth on this one.

 

You say that this isn't just about people not voting in your personal favorites, and that you are just interested in seeing representation in the Canon for films that are about women or that are nostalgia objects for women. Yet at the same time you mentioned the inclusion of Breakfast At Tiffany's and Working Girl, two films for which the strongest argument is ABSOLUTELY their importance to young women, and you dismiss these choices because you are not personally a fan of those films. So are we sure it's not just about seeing your favorites inducted?

 

I'm not sure I understand. I'd like to see more variety in the type of films being put up for consideration, but whether or not they get voted in isn't that big of a deal for me. Sure, I have my favorites, and I'll push those, but I don't have a problem with films like Tiffany's or Working Girl being put up. I don't mean to dismiss them at all, I just didn't vote for them. I'd put Roman Holiday or Sabrina, or Dirty Dancing in in a heartbeat, even if I recognize they have a very similar appeal and distinction, because I just like them better. I don't typically vote for "importance". If a film seems popular and influential, but I don't really care about it, I usually won't vote at all.

 

Maybe Labyrinth isn't drawing as much support not because of any bias against women's movies, but because people just don't like it as much. They might like it more than The Goonies (based on the comments it does seem like this is the case), but not quite enough for Canon status.

 

I recognize Labyrinth as a very flawed film, and one that I can easily imagine wouldn't go over so well to those who didn't see it as a kid. Normally, I'd say it's just not a good enough film to put in The Canon, because I tend to set my personal bar pretty high. Right up until I don't, and something silly and nostalgic, or just weird in a good way gets put up, and I just really, really wanna vote for it. Either a movie has to be unbelievably good, or it just has to get under my skin. I do recognize that there's a lot of...non-overlap between films I'd want to see in The Canon, and films I'd vote for.

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I showed this movie at my theater this past spring. I recall it being a classic. But nostalgia was the only thing propelling this most recent viewing. Way too flawed to be canon-worthy, even though I still enjoy the film.

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I think Labyrinth is a good movie, but just good shouldn't make the canon. No one associated with the film are at the top their game and the effects while well-crafted are not the best uses of Henson's workshop. The fantasy elements are nice, but for a story about putting away childish things, it seems pretty childish. Not in a "it's a kid's movie" kind of way, but in a "the journey to maturation is too zany and has no real stakes" kind of way. So, no, I cannot vote for Labyrinth to go into the canon.

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I'm not well-versed in this genre, but I find it hard to believe there isn't a better version of LABYRINTH somewhere out there. It's fine, but is this really the best?

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I'm not well-versed in this genre, but I find it hard to believe there isn't a better version of LABYRINTH somewhere out there. It's fine, but is this really the best?

Spirited Away, maybe? But like all of Miyazaki's films, it doesn't touch sexuality, which is an important color of Labryrinth.

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Spirited Away, maybe? But like all of Miyazaki's films, it doesn't touch sexuality, which is an important color of Labryrinth.

What about Pan's Labyrinth?

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What about Pan's Labyrinth?

City of Lost Children has a similar journey through a dark fantasy world to save a young brother, along with some mild sexual tension. Both films are much darker than Labyrinth though, and definitely not for children.

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This movie definitely brings up warm memories of watching with my wacky, hermit, late aunt as a kid. Gotta compartmentalize your nostalgia on this one, because it's just really not that good.

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This movie definitely brings up warm memories of watching with my wacky, hermit, late aunt as a kid. Gotta compartmentalize your nostalgia on this one, because it's just really not that good.

 

I honestly feel I don't know how to do that. Not complaining, exactly, just penciling it in as a curiosity. Thing is, I recently took some time to think of movies I grew up loving as a kid, but which I later re-visted and realized weren't very good.

 

I couldn't think of a single one.

 

Sure, there are things I watched as a kid that I think now are kinda crap, but in every case, it was something I was maybe OK with growing up. All the stuff I loved then, I love now, and not just to think about, but to watch.

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I'm a very soft yes.

 

But more importantly, how did the podcast and 70 posts in this thread all neglect to address the lyric: "Slap that baby, make him free"?

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Just like the Goonies, Pennies From Heaven and Re-Animator, this is a favorite of a small group of people (mostly from a limited age range) which does not belong in the Canon. Plus, it's not even the best film from Henson, Bowie or Connelly.

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Labyrinth is a movie I find frustrating and heartbreaking. There are scenes in here that really hint toward a version of it that could have become one of the greatest fantasy films ever made, but the whole is so deeply compromised that it's just a damn shame. The effects are stunning, the sets and cinematography often simultaneously lush and nasty, the set pieces astounding. But they're strung together by a haphazard, unfocused narrative that can't manage to make any character's motivations or relationships convincing, that leaves the protagonist's arc stumbling and unfulfilled, and that jams in several scenes that would work better as standalone sketches. I mean, do the "You remind me of the babe" and wild gang scenes really have any purpose? They're just jarring and out of place. But the real central problem is Sarah. Aside from Jennifer Connelly's unconvincing, wide-eyed performance, the movie can't commit to this character having any real arc or through-line. Sometimes it seems the point is that she has to grow up, sometimes it seems like the point is that she has to learn to navigate the realities of life, sometimes it seems like she has to learn to make friends, but none of these are really meaningfully resolved, and all are rather poorly explored, and the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too ending feels like it undoes any point the film was occasionally trying to have. Where she ends up doesn't feel earned, just dictated. The last half hour or so is the standout, but even the amazing elements are diluted by context--the junkyard scene, while incredible, is undone by the failure of the rest of the movie to really explore Sarah's life and goals and maturity. As well, Jareth's seductive elements, and that wonderful masquerade ball, are undermined by them just sort of appearing out of nowhere, and Jareth's place in the movie until that point is this bland noncommittal taunting sneer. Indeed, the movie doesn't have any urgency, period, til the end nears, Sarah sauntering along with ostensible but unconvincing purpose, from one meaningless if impressive setpiece to the next, and Jareth being a bad guy because that's what the script has him doing. Hell, he seems to like her brother more than she does, and there's never a palpable sense that she's actually learned anything or grown. And the whole subplot about Hoggle's alignment is totally extraneous. Sarah and Hoggle don't hang out enough, and they certainly don't have much charm or chemistry together, so the question of whether he'll end up a good guy is entirely uninteresting. The whole thing's a bummer. When the film's on, it's really on, but there's no depth of character, no thematic coherence, and effects/wonder can only carry a film so far if there's no emotional or narrative momentum. Honestly, the whole thing feels like it should have been a TV show. With more time for the characters and the world to settle, and with a more appropriate medium for the choppy thematics, it could have approached real, earned poignancy. As it is, it feels like a mere glimpse at real greatness, an ambitious failure, and as much as I'd like to laud the very feminine themes, I think their exploration is largely superficial and without heft. There's better Henson, there's better 80s fantasy, there's better female-focused genre stuff, there are better effects showcases (better wholes, anyway, the effects specifically are some of the most impressive ever filmed, though I think it's more a matter of degree-of-what-already-existed than influential innovation). I just can't endorse Labyrinth as Canon-worthy.

Er, not that my endorsement means much. But it's a vote.

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I'm a soft "yes" on Labyrinth. Although it's definitely a movie that I love I can see the arguments for not including it in the canon. I think that my strong attachment to it began when I was taken to see an exhibition of Henson puppets that preceded the cinema release of the film here in the UK. By the time I was taken to see it (I was 9 at the time) I'd already spent a day marvelling at the creations that I'd see in the final film. Seeing the full sized Ludo and the fire creatures, amongst the others, and learning about how they worked really got me excited to see the final product. I've returned to it occasionally throughout my life and I always enjoy it, despite the obvious flaws (which have been thoroughly gone over in the show and on here so I don't need to retread them). I'm voting yes but don't really care either way - it won't change my enjoyment of it anyway.

 

One other thing - having seen the film in the cinema, then on VHS and DVD many times, it wasn't until I watched the blu ray on my projector that I noticed details like the walls of the labyrinth being sparkly. Some of the details in the set design are unbelievable and still impressive today. If you have the opportunity to watch it big in HD then I'd highly recommend that you do.

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This isn't a no vote for me- it's a nah vote, a ¯\_ :huh:_/¯ vote

 

It's alright- fun little interesting thing- nothing more.

 

Also, I find it interesting that D&A considered it a girls film- I'm all about 'Girls' films to be included in the Canon- but is this really one? Is it just cause there's a female protagonist?

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