After countless Blockbuster rentals of the 1986 Jim Henson masterpiece, Labyrinth, our local store ceased carrying the VHS of the film when they began filtering out tapes altogether and converting to digital discs. I was a devastated 10-year-old girl when a visit to the store did not result in returning home with the movie, but my parents were sure to make things right.
Firstly, they bought me the Hours cassette tape, which at first blew my mind in a not so positive way. THIS was Jareth the Goblin King? 50 years old and sitting on the floor, holding this man’s head and totally NOT blonde?
And the music wasn’t at all what I was used to hearing from David Bowie, as all I had known of him was his work on Labyrinth.
This just wasn’t enough for me. Oh, how wrong I was, but at the time, it wasn’t enough.
My parents’ next step in consoling their Jareth-obsessed daughter was hunting down a copy of the newly released DVD, which became a key moment in my life that I remember to this day.
Our family already owned a shelf full of DVD’s by this time, but this copy of Labyrinth was my first ever DVD of my own. It was mine, and for some reason that was important to me, but little did I know just how important it would become.
After finally watching the movie again, and being amazed at the quality compared to the VHS, my father introduced me to the special features menu, and lo and behold, there was an hour long making-of documentary there on the disc. From that point on, everything changed.
I wanted to do that. I wanted to build miniatures and props, control the camera, fix the actor’s makeup and show them their mark on the set. I wanted to have been on this shoot and met Jim Henson and helped him brainstorm ways to direct the actors towards the final product that was Labyrinth. And, of course, I fell in love with David Bowie all over again hearing him speak about his work on the project.
In place of the film itself, I began re-watching the documentary just for fun. This was the beginning of my love for cinema, and my love for Bowie beyond Jareth.
These days, I’m a film school dropout trying to make a name for herself as a writer and media professional. But, for more than half of my life I was determined to be a filmmaker. Luckily, though I miss life on set terribly, a professor of mine once taught me to always see myself as a storyteller first, and filmmaker second. The whole point of this passion is to tell stories, and damn it all if Bowie wasn’t one of the best at sharing his. His films, music videos, and impressive discography make for quite a legacy. Let’s honor him together by celebrating his work and his life with a listen and a watch.
BONUS: Flight of the Conchord’s Bowie tribute, Bowie’s in Space.
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