I was shocked this morning to learn that David Bowie, one of my favorite singers, had passed away from cancer. But tragic though that may be, why mention it here? Because many of the younger visitors may have never heard of–let along seen–his work in the classic young adult fantasy film Labyrinth.
Labyrinth is the story of Sarah, a 15 year-old girl and an avid fan of fantasy stories, who tires of looking after her infant half-brother, Toby. Wishing that the “Goblin King” from her favorite storybook would rid her of Toby, she is horrified when the impossible happens and Jareth (played by Bowie) appears to do just that.
Sarah pleads for Jareth to return her brother, which he says he will do–if she can find her way within 13 hours through the treacherous maze surrounding his castle. If not, he will change Toby into a goblin and keep him forever.
Sarah accepts the challenge and sets out through the Labyrinth, meeting a variety of fantastic creatures, some helpful, others decidedly not. During her journey, she matures, struggling with her feelings for the mysterious and dangerous older man.
Bowie not only carries the film as Jareth, but he contributes several songs. Labyrinth nicely balances its light and dark elements, and there is much that children and adults will enjoy from it.
Bowie appeared in several other films (among them, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Hunger, and The Prestige) and on stage (The Elephant Man), but his performance in Labyrinth is probably his best, and his best-known.
I’ve been a fan of his music for quite some time: “Modern Love” reminds me of when I started dating the girl I would eventually marry, and I can’t hear “Space Oddity” without thinking of the Challenger disaster.
The eerie “Time Will Crawl” is my favorite Bowie song, so much so that it is one of the inspirations for my work-in-progress fantasy/horror novel, In Lonely Lands, and is the name of one of its chapters.
Bowie was a multi-faceted man who presented dozens of personas to the public. To me, he will always be Jareth. Farewell, Goblin King.
Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy. His latest work-in-progress is In Lonely Lands, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in fall 2016.
Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief. He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.
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