Dance magic dance. Jump magic jump. 4K magic 4K
We all have our formative films. Those that take us back to our childhood, those that comfort us, even if age and experience allow us to find more flaws over time. Labyrinth is one of those films that genuinely hold ups up. Imaginative and iconic, adventurous and dark. Telling of a 16-year-old girl named Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), tired of the cries of her newborn brother, and wishing him away. She finds that Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie), is all too glad to acquiesce to her wish. Filled with regret, she is given an opportunity, navigate the perils and puzzles of Jareth’s mythical Labyrinth in 13 hours, and she can bring Toby home.
It’s escapist, fantastical fare. The wonders (and nightmares) of this land brought to life by the magicians at Jim Henson’s workshop, the man himself taking the director’s chair too. Memorable characters such as Hoggle, Ludo, and Sir Didymus and his noble steed Ambrosius. Challenges to their nerves, as well as their minds lie in wait as they progress through Jareth’s elaborate kingdom.
For kids, it’s an enthralling adventure, filled with imaginative characters, quirks, and settings. Practical effects and puppetry that hold an endearing sense of wonder. But the film’s story and themes are the reason why it connects with so many. Sarah, a rather immature and petulant teen, has her way of life upended by the arrival of a new baby brother. Clinging to her childhood, resisting change and responsibility, embracing her daydreams so she can push back against the encroachment of adulthood and reality. The oft heard cries of “it’s not fair” will resonate with most parents, but as Sarah progresses through the Labyrinth, the challenges, friendships, and loss she experiences bring a growth and maturity. A 15 year old caught between two worlds, conveyed in a deft performance from Jennifer Connelly. Bowie, an iconic figure in his own right, bestows similar status on this Goblin King, a man looming large as a figure of temptation. Charming and terrible in equal measure. It’s to the film’s credit, and the admirable creative efforts of the Henson Workshop team, that he and the other people and places we see straddles these ideals so well.
The current wave of 4K releases has shown up a range of quality, thankfully this Labyrinth transfer is top quality. Taken straight from a 35mm source, depth and detail is really impressive. A healthy cinematic grain is retained in a very clean presentation that still feels warm, vibrant, and immersive. The Blu-ray version is also of good quality, and has a slightly softer (and more familiar) presentation, which might be more appealing to some.
The discs come housed in a special ‘book-style’ presentation case (with a slipcover) that opens up attached pages to show artwork, concept images, script pages, and more.
Extra Features on the 4K Disc:
- Audio Commentary by Brian Froud : Pretty detail orientated stuff from the conceptual/costume designer, but plenty of insider info to appreciate. Also present on the Blu-ray version
- Deleted & Alternate Scene Oubliette: Probably the most noteworthy addition to this new release. Over 26 minutes of deleted scenes and alternate takes for scenes, wonderfully accompanied by commentary from Brian Henson
- Sarah’s Screen Tests: A collection of rare, original screen tests for the role of Sarah! Featuring Molly Ringwald, Trini Alvarado, Tracey Gold, Claudia Wells, Jill Schoelen, Maddie Corman and Danielle von Zerneck
Extra Features on the Blu-ray Disc:
- Reordering Time: Looking Back at ‘Labyrinth’: Interviews with the main players from the film recanting their experiences on set. Short but sweet
- “The Henson Legacy” Featurette: Just over 10 minutes in length, it’s a nicely made tribute to Henson featuring contributions from his family, both at home and at the Henson workshop
- Labyrinth Anniversary Q&A: Adam Savage (MythBusters) hosts a post-screening Q&A session with puppeteers Brian Henson, Karen Prell, and Dave Goelz, as well as Sheri Weiser, who inhabited the Hoggle suit during filming
- “Remembering The Goblin King” Featurette: A tribute to Bowie, with notable contributions from Jennifer Connelly and Brian Henson
- The Storytellers (Picture-in-Picture): A riff on the old Popup Video series, where playing the movie has the occasional window appear delivering little bits of information about the scene at hand from members of the cast and crew
- Original Making-of Documentary “Inside The Labyrinth”: Just shy of an hour, this archival making of dives deeply into the concept, designs, overall production and filming of the movie. Content and quality, way above your standard EPK fare
- “Journey Through the Labyrinth: Kingdom of Characters”: Focuses on the puppet characters created for, and worked with during the film
- “Journey Through the Labyrinth: The Quest for Goblin City”: A look at the overall process of outlining the concept of the film and developing it. Largely relies on interviews from the films Producers
- Theatrical Trailers:
- 4K and Blu-ray versions included, along with a digital download code
The Bottom Line
The reverence and warmth for Labyrinth continues to grow in fans old an new, even 35 years after its release. This 4K UltraHD package is a great way to celebrate, delivering a vibrant new transfer, and a collection of extra features to deepen insight and appreciation for a cherished feature.
Labyrinth on 4K Ultra HD is available from August 18th