Labyrinth stars David Bowie as the Goblin King Jareth, who abducts the baby brother of Sarah Williams, played by Jennifer Connelly. Indeed, it was one of the weirdest and most wonderful kids films of the 1980s. And alongside all the fantastical puppetry, musical interludes and ridiculous yet incredible hair, the Jim Henson classic also taught young viewers several life lessons. From the importance of deadlines to the power of teamwork, here’s a look at 20 of the most invaluable.
20. Don’t take everything for granted
Sarah is so caught up in her own little fantasy world at the start of the movie that she forgets what she’s got in the real world. Sure, most teens wouldn’t be particularly happy at having to look after a baby when they had plans. But perhaps Sarah should have cherished the bonding time she would have had with her sibling Toby, instead of complaining about it.
Sarah does eventually realize what she had but only when it’s too late. Indeed, it takes a villainous wild-haired goblin king prone to bursting into song to make her see the error of her ways. And when both she and her brother Toby return to their family home, it’s clear that Sarah now appreciates what she has.
19. Life isn’t fair!
“It’s not fair” is one of the most uttered lines in the film as Sarah repeatedly moans about her parents, her responsibilities and her general predicament. Even the Goblin King Jareth points out how frequently the teen uses it. He tells her, “You say that so often, I wonder what your basis for comparison is.” Thankfully, Sarah eventually realizes that she needs to stop complaining so much.
Indeed, later on in the movie Hoggle complains about the unfairness of it all when Sarah confiscates his beloved shiny things as a bargaining tool. The teen acknowledges that her behavior may not be particularly fair before declaring, “But that’s the way it is.” By this point Sarah appears to understand that sometimes life doesn’t always go your way and you just have to deal with it the best way you can.
18. Sometimes you just have to ask
Sarah and her band of merry men face another obstacle in their pursuit of her baby brother Toby. That’s because they come across a bridge crossing guarded by the nemesis of her companion Ludo. Indeed, anthropomorphic fox Sir Didymus is initially reluctant to let the gang pass. But his stubbornness begins to fade away when Sarah breaks down his argument piece by piece.
Indeed, this experience shows that sometimes all you have to do is ask. After all, Sarah and co. could have just taken no for an answer. But by simply asking why Sir Didymus was so reluctant to help them, she was able to find a solution. And in the end, the creature doesn’t just let them pass, he also joins them on their quest.
17. Give people a chance
Sarah is understandably left distraught when she learns that companion Hoggle betrayed her trust and gave her the drugged peach just as Jareth the Goblin King instructed him to. However, sometimes it can take a while for someone to recognize the right thing to do. Hoggle initially obeys Jareth’s orders for fear of being punished himself and indeed early on in the film fully admits that he’s a coward.
But although it takes a while, Hoggle does eventually come good and ends up rescuing Sarah and co. when they’re met by a fearsome gate guard. Sarah then realizes that the grouchy creature has changed his ways and allows him back into the fold. Sure, Hoggle had undoubtedly let her down but his about-turn proved that sometimes it’s worth giving people another chance.
16. Marking your own path can be futile
Just like two characters from a similarly dark fable written nearly two centuries previously, Sarah uses stones to mark her path inside the labyrinth. And just like Hansel and Gretel from the Brothers Grimm’s classic fairytale, this approach doesn’t work out as planned. Indeed, she later discovers that the stones she marked with lipstick have been displaced in a disorderly fashion.
Thankfully, for Sarah, she doesn’t have to face a witch who wants to cook and eat her. Just a big-haired villainous king who wants to turn her little baby brother into a goblin for all eternity. But all the stone-flipping proves that marking your own path can sometimes be utterly futile.
15. Too much help can be hurtful
As the old saying goes, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” And in Labyrinth, Sarah is offered an overwhelming amount of assistance with her mission to find her baby brother Toby. Of course, the majority of these helpful individuals mean well, but by bombarding the teen with so much information, they only succeed in confusing her.
Indeed, Sarah does benefit from some of the labyrinth dwellers’ tips and tricks. But ultimately, she gets her brother Toby back to safety largely by using her own initiative. Indeed, if she hadn’t discovered her sense of independence, it’s more than likely that her sibling would have been turned into a goblin.
14. Deadlines are important
Do you have a task that doesn’t have a set time limit? Chances are that you will keep putting it off before forgetting about it altogether. However, if you’re given a task that that needs to be completed within a definite time frame, chances are that you will start working on it with much more urgency.
Of course, Sarah wants to get Toby back as soon as she enters the labyrinth. But she may not have achieved her goal as quickly as she does without the Goblin King Jareth’s strict deadline. Indeed, by giving her just 13 hours, he inspires the teen to get her thinking cap on as quickly as possible.
13. Be careful what you wish for
At the beginning of the film, Sarah would do anything to have Jareth abduct her baby brother – she has a play to rehearse for, after all. However, that wicked fantasy very quickly becomes a reality. And the teen soon proves that she would do anything to be in his constantly crying company once more.
Indeed, the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for” has never been more apt. What sounded like the answer to all her problems on paper turned out to be her worst nightmare when it actually came true. That’s because we all say things we don’t mean from time to time. But Sarah learned that on occasions, these words can have consequences.
12. Be kind to those smaller than you
The villainous Jareth might not think twice about throwing dwarfs into underground dungeons. Or indeed, turning a defenseless little baby into a goblin forever. But the film also shows that you don’t need to instill fear into the hearts of those smaller than you to get them on your side.
Sure, scaring a little creature senseless can be a motivating factor – but so can a simple act of kindness. And by treating the various fantastical beings she meets along the way with respect, patience and general consideration, the film’s teenage heroine ultimately ends up defeating her far more ruthless opponent.
11. Don’t judge a book by its cover
If Labyrinth tells us anything then it’s that you should never judge a book by its cover. The likes of Hoggle and Ludo may all look like frightening and fearsome creatures at first. But by the end of the film, it’s clear they all turn out to have hearts of pure gold.
However, one of the few fantastical figures who initially looks friendly ends up being one of the most antagonistic. Indeed, Sarah initially believes she’s found a new friend in the fairy that flies around her. But for then no reason whatsoever, the mythical creature then sinks her teeth into the teen.
10. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box
As you would expect from a film called Labyrinth, Sarah’s path to save her sibling Toby is an elaborate and puzzling one. Indeed, there’s certainly nothing straightforward about the maze that the Goblin King presides over. The teen is therefore required to use all of her brainpower to navigate its twists and turns.
And this means that Sarah sometimes has to think outside the box. There’s the scene when she successfully solves a logic puzzle given to her by the guards. And at another point, she and Hoggle initially believe they have reached a dead end, only to discover a false wall which they then push down in the nick of time.
9. Time is short
“It’s further than you think… and time is short.” This is what the Goblin King Jareth tells Sarah about the slightly random 13-hour time limit he’s given her to save her brother from becoming trapped in the labyrinth forever. And this proves to be one of Jareth’s most insightful and truthful lines.
Indeed, our time is limited on this planet and we only tend to realize this when we’re older. Meanwhile, as a 15-year-old, Sarah may think that she will be around forever. But before she knows it, she will be the same age as the wild-haired Jareth, whose hobbies including spinning crystal balls and terrorizing goblins.
8. Don’t give into temptation
There’s an Adam and Eve-esque lesson to learn from the scene where Hoggle betrays Sarah with a peach that proves to be anything but a simple piece of fruit. Indeed, the peach that the goblin gives the teen is laced with a drug that briefly erases all of her memories. It also sends her into a trance in which she and Jareth share a dance.
Sarah also dreams that Jareth declares he’s in love with her while at a masquerade ball. But thankfully she’s soon awakened when her memory comes back and she manages to escape the Bog of Eternal Stench she’s been imprisoned in. However, if she hadn’t given into temptation and taken food from a character she didn’t know she could fully trust, then all of the mind-altering drama could have been completely avoided.
7. Only live up to your own expectations
“Everything that you wanted, I have done,” Jareth tells Sarah during the movie. “You asked that child be taken, I took him… I have reordered time, I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations of me.” And to be fair to the villain, he does have a point.
Indeed, Jareth may have gone a tad too far by fulfilling Sarah’s request. But she did actually ask him to take her sobbing sibling away – it’s not Jareth’s fault that she then changed her mind. Furthermore, his outburst shows that living up to other people’s expectations can sometimes be a futile and arduous task.
6. Bad guys aren’t bad all the time
Contrary to what Hollywood would have you believe, villains don’t spend every waking moment twirling their mustaches and plotting their next move for world domination. And Jareth is one of those rare movie baddies who has a little more depth to him. Sure, his general behavior is questionable to say the least, but there are moments in Labyrinth when he reveals a nicer side.
Indeed, in several scenes he’s seen gently holding Sarah’s younger brother Toby as he sits on his throne. He also tries to stop him bawling by singing him a little ditty. And whereas many villains would have instantly transformed the baby into a goblin, he makes sure the baby is never in any real danger.
5. Never give up for your loved ones
Sarah initially wanted to banish Toby to a goblin world for all eternity. But after her wish was unexpectedly granted she soon proved that she would do anything for her baby brother. Indeed, by the time she finally got him back she’d been subjected to the kind of horror show that would have left many running for the hills.
Sarah had all of her memories wiped out after eating a drugged-up peach. She spent time locked up in a dungeon, and nearly had her head ripped off by a bunch of critters known as Fireys. And that’s not to mention her dealings with the creepy Goblin King Jareth himself. But her determination to save her sibling proves that blood is thicker than water.
4. There’s no ‘I’ in team
Sarah may take center stage in Jim Henson’s masterful dark fantasy. But there’s no way she would have completed her mission had she done things entirely solo. Indeed, the teen is guided on her way by a whole host of weird and wonderful characters who become just as invested in her quest as she is.
Both Sir Didymus and Ludo come to her rescue when she’s accosted by the old Junk Lady. And although Hoggle doesn’t always do the right thing, he ultimately proves whose side he’s on by helping Sarah and the rest of her motley crew evade the gate guard. Indeed, as the old adage goes, “There’s no I in team.”
3. Don’t allow foul people into your life
One of the biggest fears inside the labyrinth is falling into the smelly cesspool known as the Bog of Eternal Stench. According to the film’s legend, if you dip even just one finger in the swampy water you will permanently stink for the rest of your days. Indeed, Hoggle in particular has constant nightmares about the bog.
Of course, this putrid body of water could seen as a metaphor for foul individuals. Surround yourself with such people and it’s likely that their repugnant, nauseating or just generally insufferable aura will infiltrate yours. Or you can get rid of them and enjoy a much more breathable existence.
2. Friendships are important
Meanwhile, despite his gargantuan size, poor Ludo ends up being bullied by a group of sadistic goblins. Thankfully, he ends up being rescued by Sarah, who springs into action after sensing that the creature isn’t as fearsome as he looks. And Ludo’s reaction to the teen’s bravery provides one of Labyrinth’s most heartwarming moments.
Indeed, after saving Ludo from further torture, Sarah pays him a sweet compliment. She says, “Oh, you seem like such a nice beast.” The gentle giant then replies in a childlike manner, “Sarah, friend?” The pair then do indeed become unlikely best buds. And they go on to prove that there’s nothing stronger or more magical than the power of friendship.
1. Not everything is always as it seems
It’s not just Labyrinth’s characters who prove to have hidden depths. Indeed, the elaborate maze that Sarah and co. have to navigate is deliberately designed to make you think twice. And that’s why the gang need each and every second of the 13-hour time limit to reach their intended destination.
For example, dead ends turn out to be open doors, bricks and mortar are just tricks on the eye, and both the walls and the floors constantly shift. Evidently, nothing is what it seems to be at first glance. And this is what makes Labyrinth such an intriguing film to watch.