Bowie’s “Labyrinth” – Esoteric Analysis, pt 3
April 16, 2010 9 Comments
Previously, we saw that Jareth had a kind of attraction towards Sarah, reminiscent of the angelic attraction towards the “daughters of men” of Genesis 6. Sarah entered this mystical realm of fantasy/psyche, seeking to figure things out. What she has so far found is that the world is not really as it seems, and doesn’t operate like an adolescent thinks. So, on one level, the Labyrinth is Sarah’s psyche, and at another level, it’s her interpretation of the world as she passes from youth to adulthood. This process itself is conceived of as an alchemical transformation, since the body itself “transforms” as it grows.
This is the reason for the continual emphasis on bodily functions. As Sarah leaves the fierys, she enters the Bog of Eternal Stench. The fascination of children with bodily functions in a Freudian sense need not be mentioned, but is clearly what is at work here. The world seems simultaneously gross and appealing to Sarah, as she enters puberty. Sarah encounters Sir Didymus, the British fox. As with Sarah’s questioning by Hoggle for the right words to enter the Labyrinth, she is here asked by Sir Didymus for the right words to pass the bridge. This may have a masonic reference to it, as Masonry asks its “seekers” for passwords and the purported “lost name.”
Sarah is then tricked into eating a forbidden peach, reminiscent of Eve in the garden. Sarah trips out, and begins her fantasy with Jareth - evil, or more specifically, sex, is simultaneously repulsive and appealing to her. Sarah is trapped inside an “orb” and the ballroom scene becomes one of veiled orgy. Phallic references are rife amongst the adults who wear demon masks. At one level, this is Sarah passing into the realm of adulthood, whose pleasures don’t make sense to her. Jareth, as the devil character, decides to take the virgin bride for himself (as Sarah is dressed in white). While drugged, she is initiated into Jareth’s cult in a “dance” that clearly hints at orgy.
One is reminded of Phantom of the Opera and Eyes Wide Shut:
Sarah breaks from this fantasy/trip and is dazed and confused. She can’t recall what she is searching for, and is tempted by the Junk Lady to stay a child immersed in pretending and toys. Sarah discards these as trinkets and junk and rejoins her companions to face what reminds one of a golem, guarding the gate to the Goblin City. After the battle, Sarah enters the M.C. Escher patterned palace of Jareth. Bowie treats us to some campy lyrics, while defying gravity. Seeking to seduce Sarah, he distracts her from finding Toby.
Sarah decides to take a leap of faith, and the Labyrinth falls to pieces, where she faces Jareth in his owl costume. Jareth claims he has done all that Sarah has wanted. Sarah, responds by reciting the words from the book, The Labyrinth, and Jareth offers her dreams if he can rule her. This scene echoes the temptation of Jesus on the mount by the serpent. However, in this non-theistic version, Sarah realizes that she must merely assert herself to be “saved.” As soon as she realizes she is her own “god,” Jareth’s power appears to fail, and he must leave. All is then apparently returned to normal, Toby is back, and Sarah puts some of her fantasy items away.
Her fantastical friends then appear in a big party in her room – including the “bad guys,” such as the goblins. The last shot shows Jareth in his owl form watching over the whole thing – in other words, Jareth had all along planned the scenario of Sarah’s transition from youth to adulthood, and at a deeper level, Sarah’s transition from seeing things as absolute – good and evil, to now being “friends” with both good and evil. Sarah has been “initiated” into a false worldview, where she now sees good and evil as relative and manifestations of her own psyche. He then flies off under the sign of the moon. Thus, in the end, the theme of quest and defeat of evil has, unfortunately, been relativized. We will see this same notion in another underground Henson film I will review, The Dark Crystal.