Labyrinth – The Chronicles Of Narnia – tape 877

This tape opens with a trail for Bread on Christmas Day.

Then, the first showing on Network TV of Labyrinth. I was always impressed by the CGI Owl they used in the credits – pretty good lighting and modelling for the mid-80s.

What I like less is the initial characterisation of young Sarah, played by Jennifer Connolly. She’s written as whiny and entitled, and although she complains about being treated terribly by her stepmother, we don’t see any of that. I get that she’s a bit of a fantasist, but her character is not endearing. I feel they could have written her differently at the start and still had the same story. It’s a small niggle.

The bad things start happening when she wishes the goblins would take her baby brother away, after she’s left babysitting. Her brother disappears, and the Goblin King, Jareth, tells her he’s taken him at her request. Jareth is, of course, played by David Bowie, possibly he most famous role, if not necessarily his finest. With hair like a Final Fantasy character, and a talent for juggling glass balls that was actually provided by juggler Michael Moschen, whose specialty was a lovely act with glass balls. Every time you see Jareth handling the balls, those are Moschen’s hands you’re seeing.

She has to travel through the Labyrinth to get to Jareth’s castle, and along the way she meets a lot of characters provided by Jim Henson’s creature shop. Her main companion is Hoggle, whom she calls ‘Hogwart’ at first, which amused me.

There’s some nice matte paintings.

Let’s not forget, this is a musical with songs by David Bowie.

I liked the use of the Two Guards, one who lies and the other who tells the truth, a classic logic puzzle.

Another friend she meets is Ludo.

There’s another musical number, featuring the Fireys, two of whom are voiced by Danny John Jules.

I like the Escher Room.

Bowie’s Goblin Codpiece is slightly legendary.

Sarah defeats the Goblin King, the baby is safe, and she even gets the chance to play with all her new friends in her bedroom.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 24th December 1989 – 15:00

After this, there’s a trailer for Christmas Eve programmes.

Then, there’s the start of Beasts of the Field, in which Desmond Morris tells us why farm animals behave the way they do. Here he is with a bull in a china shop.

After a couple of minutes, recording switches to later in the day, and the end of Esther Rantzen’s Hearts of Gold.

There’s another trailer for Bread.

Then, the Christmas ident appears (it wasn’t being used earlier in the day).

Then, we have Episode Four of The Chronicles Of Narnia – Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I really appreciate all the effort put into this series, even while lamenting the lack of necessary budget to do it justice. The worst aspect is that it was shot on video, leading to dark murky scenes the like of which we haven’t seen since… well, Episode 3 of Game of Thrones this year.

Samuel West (son of Timothy) plays the older Prince Caspian.

Warwick Davis plays another of his trademark creature roles.

This series played with animated creatures, which worked reasonably well, even though the video compositing makes it look worse than it needs to.

Geoffrey Bayldon plays Ramandu.

Reepicheep gets to go up to Heaven (sorry) Aslan’s Realm on a waterspout.

Aslan turns up at the end to tell Lucy and Edmund that they won’t come back to Narnia because they’re too old.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 24th December 1989 – 17:50

After this, there’s the start of the BBC News, where the tape ends.

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2 comments

  1. What I liked best about Labyrinth when I was a kid was David Bowie’s Underground song (no, not the Dance Magic Dance one, and nothing to do with the Wombles). But as a film, it looks like an extended showreel for Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop. It just doesn’t satisfy (unless you’re a thirteen-year-old girl). Mind you, people do remember it, unlike Mirrormask which tried to do the same thing later on.

  2. the US trailer made much or its pairing of Jim Henson, George Lucas, David Bowie, Terry Jones… I did like it although it’s no “The Dark Crystal.”

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