Friday, 19 August 2016

A Love Letter to the Labyrinth

My all time favourite film the Labyrinth is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year (coincidentally also my 30th anniversary on this planet) and Sony has gone all out  on merchandise and releases. Like this incredible Blu Ray box set, which includes a Q&A panel session with the guy from myth busters, Brian Henson, David Goelz and Karen Prell, and a digibook (I am still unsure what that is). My only issue is that the UK version looks considerably less impressive? There are Sarah, Jareth, Ludo and Hoggle Funko Pops. but you can bet I will be adding them to my other labyrinth prize possessions I mention further on. 

In March, only a few weeks after Bowie had died, the Arnolfini in Bristol put on the Labyrinth as part of a film festival. I wrote up a short piece of my trip out on Letterboxd and found myself writing about how I was affected by the experience rather than a normal review. It was then I was reminded of a review about six or seven years ago on an old blog. I say review loosely as it wasn't really a blow by blow account of the film followed with in detail options, but again a more crude version about how the labyrinth has affected my life. 

So, Labyrinth has always been there for me, like a comforter, Its words wheedling their way into my vernacular, and scenes becoming my families own pop cultural references; "It smells like the bog of eternal stench in here!" "that wasn't very nice" "Smell Bad" and "You got your Charlie Bear" to name but a few.  A lot has changed since I wrote that piece on my old blog, my writing style for one. Its slightly less cringy. I'm actually married and not just talking about it (and my wedding dress was not at all like Sarahs sadly) and of course, David Bowie is dead. Of course some things never change, especially just how precious I am about the Labyrinth. 

I don't think anyone will ever understand just how much I love I have for the film. I could stand here and recite it word for word for you right now if you needed me to.  I once actually did that to my friend Paul, in the early hours of the morning after an all night session, I stood by the TV and did the whole thing while it was playing.  My mum and my aunts obsession with David Bowie when they were teenagers, transpired into my teenage obsession with David Bowie, I had to watch, listen or read anything with him in.  So for me the Labyrinth had everything I ever wanted in a film;  teenage angst, fantasy, Bowie, Bowie singing, and a tragic love story involving Bowie. 

My sister was also very keen, I am unsure if that is just because I forced her or if it was a genuine love, we pretty much wore out the VHS tape we had. If we weren't watching it, we were listening to the soundtrack on vinyl we had some how accrued which we used to play on this really old record player. Labyrinth it was the first DVD I ever bought to replace a VHS when I got a DVD player and the OST was one of the first things I ever put on my iPod in 2003.  One of my prized possessions is a beautiful illustration book with all the sketches in by Brian Froud and Terry Jones that I always planned to have on my coffee table when I was a grown up. A plush Ludo sits in the workshop watching over me. I take my orders to the post office in a Labyrinth tote bag.  So yeah don't call me out on the devotion of my fandom, it is real af. 

I once had an almighty argument with my first ever boyfriend Jon about what the wise man's bird head said; "would you listen to this crap/prat". Trust me this was even worse than our eternal Nirvana vs The Beatles rows. We didn't have subtitle options on VHS. We watched this scene about 50 times, before he stormed off on his bike and I went running after him. It could only be made up by me watching some shitty Woody Allen film at his house, I switched off and switched on Labyrinth in my head instead. I was wrong by the way, which is rare but I will give Jon this one.

So only weeks after Bowie had gone, I sat in the Arnolfini feeling nervous. It's a very odd thing seeing a film that you have seen probably close to 100 times, in public. As I said before I really could recite it word for word for you right now, I could play each scene in my head, so seeing it up there, not even re-digitalised or remastered, it didn't really do much for me in those stakes. But seeing people's reactions to the film, hearing people laughing out loud, people who had potentially never seen it before, it  felt very very strange. Labyrinth is a serious film to me, bits that make me laugh are personal things for me and my sister and my parents, but other people laughed too. It made me feel uncomfortable sharing this almost intimate experience, and I realise this makes me sound selfish but it was not a reaction I had expected to feel.

When I left London to move to Bristol nearly four years ago, the last thing my mum said to me "should you need us" as I left her house with all my things. It's something we always say to each other, but  the words rang in my ears and I cried the entire journey.  As I sat there in the Arnolfini, when Hoggle and Sir Diddymus said to Sarah should you need us the first time I silently cried, but during the last scene when they repeat it, I broke down. I have always felt so bereft at the end of this film, Sarah was back to reality without her friends, and it felt awful, numb, so I was always hugely relieved that when she looked in the mirror and Hoggle says "should you need us" and they have a big party in Sarahs' room.

It was also emotional for me seeing Bowie as how I got to know him from when I was very little. I stroked my new Bowie tattoo and bit in the insides of my cheeks when As the World Falls Down came on, this was my wedding song. Seeing this on the big screen was probably my favourite bit for me because it's so glorious and Bowie is at his best. Sarah in her dress, having her realisation that perhaps adulthood isn't all its cracked up to be. Oh god that dress. The song is perfect, the set design is incredible. I am not usually a musical or a big dance number person, but this is my one true exception. It's the epitome of this feels so wrong but it feels so right. A feeling I felt so often as an angsty teenager. Labyrinth is a true coming of age film and this scene is the pinnacle. 

So, overall the experience was... ok. I don't think I would want to share something so personal again in a cinema. I realise that cinema is meant for everyone to enjoy and I started this piece off saying I know how irrational and precious I am being. But the Labyrinth somehow feels like mine and I don't want to share it. Guess I didn't learn the lessons in the film huh.  However seeing old films on a big screen is literally always enjoyable and the Arnolfini is incredible. 

Labyrinth gets 5/5 hearts. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Charlotte is one half of Bimbo Movie Bash, runs Black Heart Creatives, enjoys gory horror films, shouting, smoking fags, and laying down

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