Years since I last saw it? 20?
Imagine you could go back and change anything about your life. Would you? Now imagine that same question posed to David Bowie. Would he change anything? My guess is not much. A haircut here or there perhaps, less drugs, maybe, telling Mick Jagger not to wear that green shirt in the Dancing In The Streets video that makes him look like he is sporting a pair of long pendulous boobs and no bra, certainly. Anything else? Oh yes. The trousers.
It has long been claimed that you can see the Great Wall of China from space but you can’t. The only man-made construction you can see from space is the outline of David Bowie’s cock in the trousers he wore in Labyrinth. They forever redefined our use of the word prominent. And yet, seemingly, nobody noticed his boys as they kept swinging behind a thin layer of beige fabric as Bowie, surrounded by puppets, danced his Magic Dance. Or perhaps, everyone was just too polite to say anything? Because it isn’t just one scene is it? At the end of the film his trousers have changed but his genitalia hasn’t. There they are, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, centre screen, upsetting your nan, making impressionable teenagers feel all warm and strange in a new but not totally uncomfortable way, daring somebody, somewhere to say something.
I wasn’t sure about revisiting Labyrinth but I’m pleased to say that, like David Bowie’s penis, it stands up well. It’s amazing to think the film wasn’t well received on its release because it probably has more to offer adults than it does children. There are so many great characters, Jim Henson’s puppetry has stood the test of time in the way that Ray Harryhausen’s creatures and the clientele of the Mos Eisley cantina have (and most CGI, until very recently, doesn’t), the story is both simple and sophisticated, the ending (“yes, should you need us…”) perfect, and Bowie is great. And while I know a lot of people aren’t convinced by Jennifer Connelly’s performance, she is actually playing a very specific sort of teenager very well. Maybe the critics just noticed Bowie’s thin white duke, under pressure in those slacks, and thought sniffy reviews might shield a generation from difficult feelings. Nowadays we know those feelings are natural and nothing to be scared of, but the eighties were a different time.
What surprised me most* about Labyrinth was not that I enjoyed it, but that I enjoyed it so much. I want to watch it again. I want to get a copy of the soundtrack.
Worth revisiting? I’ll be watching it again soon.
*actually, what surprised me most was the soundtrack is £45 on Amazon. If anyone has a copy they don’t want, let me know, yeah?