Throwback Thursday: Labyrinth & The Dark Crystal
I love the work of Jim Henson and his Creature Shop! The puppets that populated Sesame Street and The Muppet Show felt like dear friends when I was a kid. But the creations that had the most impact on my childhood imagination starred in Henson's two movie masterpieces -- Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.
Jim wanted to “get back to the darkness” of the original stories by the Brothers Grimm. And the rule of the twisted Skeksis and their Garthim army definitely qualified as dark. And scary! If I wanted to make my sister scream, all I had to do was my best Chamberlain impression -- mmmm-MMMMMmmmm. The Dark Crystal was a complete departure from the work he was known for, and it wasn't wildly successful when it debuted in 1982. But the live-action fantasy adventure achieved cult classic status as audiences absorbed how much imagination and work went into it's creation. It took five years to make! Conceptual designer Brian Froud created the entire world on paper, then a team had to bring those drawings to three-dimensional life. All of the stars were puppets, which had never been done before! And most of the puppets took 4 to 6 people to operate. The film alone is spectacular, but learning the behind-the-scenes stuff is mind-blowing! It certainly got my childhood mind churning. I spent many hours pretending I was a gelfling who could talk to the animals, who could ride like the wind on a landstrider. In fact, it continues to inspire. In August 2019, Netflix debuted a prequel series, The Dark Crystal: Age of the Resistance.
Labyrinth came out in 1986 and was considered a financial flop. I have absolutely NO idea how it didn't capture the imagination of audiences instantly. I have adored the movie since my first viewing. How can you not love a film about a child-stealing goblin king played by David Bowie?! The hair, the shape-shifting, the crystal-ball juggling . . . and the music! I still regularly break out in my favorite song. You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power. Dance, Magic, Dance, people! One of the highlights of my 20-year library career here at Hoover Public Library was my Jareth cosplay opportunity at our GeekFest in 2012. People actually wanted me to snatch their babies for a photo op! It was my honor to do so. Labyrinth was the last film Jim Henson directed before his death in 1990. In 2020, it has been announced that Scott Derrickson will go "through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered" to direct the planned sequel. I'm both excited and terrified about the prospect of a sequel. Can it possibly be as good? Will it stick to its puppetry roots? Or be bogged down in CGI? "I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say" and stick to puppets, Derrickson!
SUMMER READING RECOMMENDATIONS
Are you like me? Do you like stories about magical creatures? If you do, I have three summer reading lists for you.
SR 2020 Dragons
SR 2020 Magical Creatures 1
SR 2020 Magical Creatures 2
Did you miss last week's post in this series? Take a look at Throwback Thursday: The Sword in the Stone.