Let’s be honest. I only have two days of classes. And right now, only 13 days into my life in Scotland, I only have so many things pressing on my time. So with the extra three days each week where I have no set schedule, I am supposed to be reading, writing, and watching movies. Today was the first day that I did that.
Note: it’s 7:04 pm and I haven’t left the house yet. Haha.
Today I woke up and decided I need to watch….(drumroll)….
Why? I have no idea.
I went into the movie with notions in my head that I would analyze the story’s structure, the efficiency of certain key elements of that structure, character development or lack of, etc.
But I got SO swept up in the symbolism of the story that I forgot all of that.
Which I suppose is an argument for a well written story, because if there had been blatant flaws, I would’ve been sucked right out of the story. There are two blatant flaws in The Labyrinth. Musical number #1, and musical number #2. The only good thing about those was David’s voice. But I found myself wishing the music would end so I could get back to the story. Keep in mind, I’ve only seen the movie once, when I was eight.
The Labyrinth is known to be an outrageously cheesy 80s production, so how did it capture me so well? Certainly not with the special effects.
The whole plot is a metaphor for a young girl becoming a woman. And in this case, the young girl succeeds more beautifully than most real women actually do.
In the beginning, her world is a fantasy. She has limitless possessions that her world revolves around, and despite believing her life is a tragedy, she actually has it pretty good (that house is structurally beautiful, come on). She despises others’ need for her.
Then a human being with whom she has an unbreakable bond – her brother – gets captured by a man who is covertly out to seduce the girl. Parallel this with what you will. Essentially, she can retain a facade of her innocence and fantasy by falling for the seduction, or she can choose to willfully put those things aside for the sake of a person that she loves.
She chooses the latter, and enters into a series of trials in order to regain her brother. During this testing period, she discovers that her body, mind, and heart are her only valuable possessions, and that she should freely share them with, or use them to the benefit of those worthy of her love. She makes actual friends whom she treasures more than any of her possessions and recognizes the love in her heart for her brother (and thereby presumably her father and step-mother), and for whom she willingly sacrifices her innocence, fantasy, and those three valuable possessions, her body, heart, and mind.
Now in the climax of the primary plot arc: she must face her seducer in a final show down.
(this is not the showdown, but it exhibits his incredible seductive powers.) Here, he tells her of all his “generosity,” asks her to only give up one small thing (her freedom) in return for all of her hopes and dreams (be to ruled by the Goblin King?), in a last attempt to get her to stay with him. His lines are more than similar to an unhealthy and potentially abusive relationship. Manipulation. It is a weapon wielded by both men and women to get what they want from a relationship, and is seated in selfishness and lust. It is not flattering, it is not kind, and it is not okay. (Aside: do I think Jareth is evil? Absolutely not. I think his priorities are a little out of whack and with some counseling he could have a perfectly healthy and beautiful relationship.)
And what does she say to him? What does she realize in her heart and mind?
“You have no power over me.”
Just as no person ever truly does. Sure, some may exert physical power over others, and if I could solve that issue, I would. But never does anyone have power over your heart or mind to destroy your decision-making capabilities. If they do, it is because at some point you gave it to them, and you are not taking it back. Successful transition into adulthood: recognizing when to and when to not give up your will for another. Successful transition into womanhood: Realizing that your body, heart, and mind are needed by others and you also need theirs.
But she recognized the difference between someone worthy of her love (her brother and the friends she made in the labyrinth, who also give and sacrifice for her) and someone unworthy (the creepy man who attempted to manipulate her into a life of slavery to him).
I find it interesting that what the character here ends up fighting for is a baby. Also a beautiful comment on femininity I think. Women are built to have babies. No one can deny this. Is this their only purpose in life? Of course not. They were also built with brains and wills just like I’ve been talking about this whole time. Point is, giving up that opportunity of bearing a child is not accomplishing the height of feminine freedom. It is actually stunting it. It is willfully foregoing a woman’s biological purpose.
Now, what does this have to do with my life here in Scotland? I’m here to write movies. And I by no means am going to write about stupid women whose goals in life are to get a man to “rescue” her from really living. So The Labyrinth will have a much deeper effect on my writing than I anticipated.
Also, I’ve been commissioned into writing a David Bowie musical. The Beatles and Queen have their musicals, it’s time for the next biggest British superstar to get his (this is the argument of the person who commissioned the musical). In discussing plot lines for the musical, my friend said the theme he’s noticed in David’s music is children facing abuse. You know I’m all over tackling that challenge. Interestingly, I found an article on Twitter today about David Bowie’s 100 most favorite books, and just from reading the list I can tell that I like him. So looking forward to working with him some day. 🙂