Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)
September 25, 2016 by Dennis Amith
May you be a person who grew up watching this film or someone that is just discovering Jim Henson’s work, just know that “Labyrinth” is no doubt one of his most innovative and wonderful works to be featured in his oeuvre. A beloved fantasy classic that will continue to endure for many more years to come…”Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition” is recommended!
© 1986, 2016 The Jim Henson Company. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1986
DURATION: 101 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish VO, Portuguese, Russian VO, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian Stereo SUBTITLES: English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Turkish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: September 20, 2016
Directed by Jim Henson
Story by Dennis Lee and Jim Henson
Screenplay by Terry Jones
Produced by Eric Rattray
Executive Produced by David Lazer, George Lucas
Associate Producer: Martin G. Baker
Music byTrevor Jones
Cinematography by Alex Thompson
Edited by John Grover
Casting by Jane Jenkins
Production Design by Elliot Scott
Art Direction by Terry Ackland-Snow, Roger Cain, Peter Howitt, Frank Walsh, Michael White
Costume Design by Ellis Flyte, Brian Froud
David Bowie as Jareth
Jennifer Connelly as Sarah
Toby Froud as Toby
Shelley Thompson as Stepmother
Christopher Malcolm as Father
Natalie Finland as Fairy
Shari Weiser as Hoggle
Brian Henson as the voice of Hoggle/Goblin
An imaginative 16-year old girl is given 13 hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother when her wish for him to be taken away is granted by the Goblin King. The generation-defining Jim Henson fantasy classic celebrates its 30th anniversary with fully restored picture & sound and all-new special features. Starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly.
In 1986, Jim Henson (“The Muppets”, “The Dark Crystal”, “Sesame Street”) and executive producer George Lucas (“Star Wars” films, “Indiana Jones” films) would create a film based on the conceptual designs of Brian Froud (“The Dark Crystal”, “Peter Pan”).
Henson co-wrote the film with Dennis Lee (“Fraggle Rock”) and the screenplay was written by Terry Jones (“Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, “Life of Brian”, “The Meaning of Life”).
While the film had a budget of $25 million and didn’t do well in the box office (making only $12.9 million in the U.S.), the film would become the last feature film directed by the legendary puppeteer, artist, inventor, musician and filmmaker Jim Henson.
While the film was one of the most difficult experiences that Jim Henson had experienced, over the years, “Labyrinth” would receive a huge cult following. And now, with the 30th Anniversary of “Labyrinth”, the film will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.
The film stars David Bowie (“The Hunger”, “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence”), Jennifer Connelly (“Requiem for a Dream”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “Blood Diamond”, “Hulk”), Shelly Thompson, Christopher Malcolm and a talented cast of production talent/voice artists.
The film begins with Sarah Williams (portrayed by Jennifer Connelly) rehearsing a play with her dog Merlin and having a trouble with a line. But when she realizes she is late to come home to babysit her brother Toby, she rushes home and her parents Irene (portrayed by Shelly Thompson) and her father (portrayed by Christopher Malcolm) are not thrilled that she was late.
Sarah rebels against her parents and when she sees her baby brother Toby playing with her treasured teddy bear, Lancelot, Sarah becomes upset and frustrated.
So, upset that she starts telling baby Toby a story about the Goblin King and then wishes that he is taken away by the Goblin King.
When she leaves the room, she hears her baby brother has stopped crying. When she goes back into the room, the baby is gone and she is confronted by Goblin King Jareth (portrayed by David Bowie).
Sarah tells him that she wants her baby brother back and he refuses. But if she wants him back, she has 13 hours to solve his Labyrinth and find him or else Toby will be turned into a goblin forever.
Sarah is whisked to the Goblin King’s kingdom and she meets a grumpy dwarf named Hoggle.
And through her adventures of trying to solve the Labyrinth, Sarah, along with Hoggle and a few friends she meets along the way, try to assist her.
But will Sarah and friends be able to rescue baby Toby?
“Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio). The film was restored for the 30th anniversary release, using the original 35 mm camera negative as the source. The film was scanned and fully restored at 4K resolution.
The film is absolutely full of detail, from the wrinkles of Hoggle’s face and hands, the fur on Ludo, to the beautiful landscape that Henson’s crew had created.
There is great detail, may it be closeups of Sarah or Jareth, the awesome costume design, the sets, the crystal balls that Jareth holds in his hands and colors are much more vibrant.
But it’s important to know that along with great clarity in 4K, there are some scenes (especially involving green screen) that don’t fare too greatly as you can see the outlines around the characters. Part of the limitations of technology of how things were back in the mid-’80s in which imperfections become more noticeable. But that scene is short and the majority of the film looks beautiful in 4K Ultra HD.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish VO, Portuguese, Russian VO, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital and Italian Stereo.
The film features crystal clear dialogue and music (as sung by David Bowie and music by Trevor Jones.
Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Turkish
“Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features:
- Commentary with Brian Froud – Audio commentary by costume designer/concept artist, Brian Froud.
- Reordering time: Looking Back at Labyrinth – (9:31) Revisiting the talent and the crew of the film and their memories of working on “Labyrinth” and archived interviews back in 1986.
- The Henson Legacy – (10:36) A featurette remembering and honoring the legacy of Jim Henson.
- Remembering the Goblin King – (4:48) A featurette remembering and honoring David Bowie and his performance in “Labyrinth”.
- Anniversary Q&A – (41:25) Adam Savage (moderator) interviews puppeteers Brian Henson, Karen Prell and David Goelz for the film’s 30th anniversary.
- “Inside the Labyrinth” Making of Documentary – (56:28) The original making of documentary of “Inside the Labyrinth” from 1986.
- Journey through the Labyrinth: “Kingdom of Characters” – (27:55) A featurette on the making of the characters and how the characters were planned for the film.
- Journey through the Labyrinth: “The Quest for the Goblin City” – (30:03) A featurette with Brian Froud and how he came with the concept for “Labyrinth” and how Goblin City was created and also showcasing the puppets.
- The Storytellers: Picture in Picture – (1:41:03) Watch the entire film with picture in picture with those who worked on the film giving details and challenges that they faced in making the film.
- Theatrical Trailers – (4:01) The theatrical trailers for “Labyrinth”.
“Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition” will come with both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray plus an UltraViolet Digital HD code. Also, a slipcover.
When Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth” was released back in 1986, one enjoyed it for how far Jim Henson’s creativity of puppeteering has come.
Afterall, at the time, many of grew up with Jim Henson’s work, may it be through “Sesame Street”, “Fraggle Rock” or even the film “The Dark Crystal”, which came out a few years earlier, you can’t help but be amazed by his and his crew’s work.
But while I was still a young teen, “Labyrinth” was cool in the fact that it starred David Bowie and my teenage hormones discovering Jennifer Connelly (while temporarily taking my attention away from Molly Ringwald and Elisabeth Shue) no doubt made this film much more enjoyable for me. It also helped that cable would play this movie over and over, that the characters of Sarah, Hoggle, Ludo and Didymus became characters we would become more familiar with in the mid-’80s.
So, I can easily remember the good times of growing up and Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth” many times as a teenager.
And here we are 30 years later and the film has received a gorgeous 4K restoration and a 4K Ultra HD release.
Watching the film today, I am still amazed of how awesome the costume design and puppeteering was done for the film. How highly detailed the overall set design was. And you can tell that Jim Henson and crew really put their heart and soul into making the film. So, it breaks my heart that “Labyrinth” didn’t do well in the box office and I can understand how it demoralized Jim Henson.
In July 1986, the film was not only just going against “The Karate Kid Part II”, “Top Gun”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Back to School”, “Legal Eagles”, “Running Scared” and other popular films at the time. As a summer film, the timing of “Labyrinth” and having to go against these other films was tough. Each of these three films had huge popular stars to be a major draw and these same films would continue to become box office hits weeks later. Even if the studio had waited a month later, then it would have to go against “Aliens” and the latest installment of “Friday the 13th”.
And just to be fair, another puppet-based or talking character film that would premiere in July of 1986, “Howard the Duck” did not fair any better either.
But I do feel that cable television and its re-airing did help people who missed the film in theaters, realized that Jim Henson and crew, had created one of their finest works that even 30-years later, we can still watch it and be in awe of the film.
While I’m sure many fans have already owned this film on DVD or owning the 2009 Blu-ray release, “Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition” is simply a gorgeous film that looks even better in 4K Ultra HD. The details are more evident, picture quality is crisp, sharp and just beautiful to watch in 4K. The lossless soundtrack is crystal clear in Dolby Atmos, but I think it’s the 4K restoration that hardcore videophiles will notice even more compared to the 2009 Blu-ray release.
And the 30th Anniversary release wouldn’t be cool without new special features and the interviews with cast and crew for the “Reordering Time: Looking Back at Labyrinth”, “The Henson Legacy”, “Remembering the gobling King” and “Labyrinth Anniversary Q&A” makes this version the definitive version of the film to own!
Overall, may you be a person who grew up watching this film or someone that is just discovering Jim Henson’s work, just know that “Labyrinth” is no doubt one of his most innovative and wonderful works to be featured in his oeuvre. A beloved fantasy classic that will continue to endure for many more years to come…”Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition” is recommended!
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