I first saw the Jim Henson movie “Labyrinth” when it was released in theatres – or rather, to be specific, in a drive-in theatre – with my sister and I dressed in our pj’s and ensconced in a nest of sleeping bags and pillows in the back seat of my parents car. It never lost it’s enchantment for me, and I recently got to enjoy sharing it with my six year old daughter. Watching it again as an adult made me realize just how many nuggets of wisdom there is tucked away in this story of a young girl’s quest to save her baby brother from the Goblin King. I’ve created a list of the fifteen most meaningful lessons that I took away from the experience. SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movie by now, please correct this! We’ll wait…
15 – Proper undergarments – worth every penny. A big screen view of David Bowie’s package under those tight.. well, tights… let’s just say it remains a bit of a joke to this day. Embarrassing, but there it is. Always find the right product for the outfit you’ll be wearing; they make all sorts of underwear, and some of it is fabulous for people that might need to wear tight costumes (or slinky dresses, just saying!).
14 – Never underestimate the importance of good hygiene. The Bog of Eternal Stench was a real threat, and Jareth (the Goblin King) and Hoggle knew just how harsh an impact it could have on a person. It’s not just a matter of smelling like something crawled into your drawers and died. It’s that no matter how good a person you are, or how well you do your job, it is a sad fact that people will always judge you first based upon such seemingly irrelevent things like how neat your clothes are, and how nice you smell.
13 – Always try asking nicely first. At one point the heroine, Sarah, finds her way blocked by an overly zealous adversary. Time is of the essence, and it looks like it could take all day for her and her party to fight their way past their foe (who looks suspiciously like my dad’s yorkshire terrier). If you approach everything like a battle, it will become one. Some people enjoy this approach; personally I feel it is generally inefficient, leading to wasted time and a lot of stress. Instead of turning everything into a deathmatch, next time you need something try just treating the would-be foe with a bit of respect and a few polite words. It might surprise you how often this tactic yields results. It’s certainly easier on the blood pressure.
12 – Stop and help when you see others in need. It would have been easier for Sarah to leave Ludo to the bullying goblins.. and some might argue wiser, because she had precious little time to solve the Labyrinth, and she “wasted” some of it on a complete stranger in need. Yet that act of kindness and courage earned her a friend that turned into a champion when Sarah herself was in need, and Ludo’s skills became extremely valuable on several occasions, proving that kindness is never wasted.
11 – When someone says they don’t want a kiss, do the right thing and leave them alone. When Hoggle said “no” and fought to get away from Sarah’s kiss, Sarah should have dropped the matter right then. It’s a sad double standard though that nobody blinks as this towering girl grabs a struggling man (or goblin.. or whatever) and forces herself upon him despite his cries to stop. Karma descends with swift retribution though, and Sarah finds out she should have listened when Hoggle said “stop”. Wish all encounters of this type were so efficiently dealt with…
10 - Look before walking into unfamiliar territory – a bit of research and a few well-thought questions can save a lot of trouble later. Our plucky heroine is constantly walking headfirst into trouble or misdirection simply because she can’t be bothered to check what’s ahead of her. There are plenty of opportunities for her to ask others for information that could help her make better decisions, but she is constantly passing them up. On at least one occasion she doesn’t even bother to look through the doorway she’s just opened, leaving her to fall to a grisly death (if it hadn’t been a kids movie, that is), because she is too busy talking to check her environment. Sounds like a lot of drivers on the road actually…
9 – Just because it’s pretty, doesn’t mean it isn’t going to bite you. Too often we see judge things based on their packaging or presentation. Next time you are tempted to grab something because it looks shiny, stop and ask yourself if it won’t turn around and bite you at some point.
8 – It is exhausting living up to the expectations of others. Jareth claims he has done everything Sarah asked, and she still isn’t happy. In the end, you really can’t please others by changing yourself to fit the expectations of others, and you will only wear yourself out trying. Instead of working on the you that others want you to be, focus your energy on becoming the you that YOU want to be – although first you have to figure out who that person is!
7 – Things aren’t always what they seem – always stop and consider all the angles.
6 – Perspective is everything – even with the best of intentions, people can only offer advice based on their own experiences, hopes and needs. Remember to consider where advice is coming from and don’t hesitate to get other opinions.
5 - Life’s not fair – but it’s just as unfair for others as it is for you. Get over it.
4 – The familiar – especially if it’s something we grew up with – may feel safe and comforting, but we can never grow unless we’re willing to open the door and leave it behind.
3 – More often than we like to admit, we are the source of our own problems. More than any outside force, we all tend to stand in our own way. Whether it’s fear, anger, or a negative attitude; distraction, depression or inertia.. there are so many reasons we cause grief for ourselves and block our own path to success.
2 – Each of us has within ourselves all the power we need to overcome those problems. Success comes from learning from and moving past or correcting our mistakes and taking responsibility for our actions or inaction. We’re ingenious creatures, and we all have more potential than we may realize.
1 – Every now and then, for no reason at all, we all need a little bit of magic in our lives.
*I have no idea where I got all these images, but they’re all copyrighted and belonging to the Lucasfilm or perhaps Tristar.. I couldn’t figure out how to properly credit someone for random old movie screenshots.. tips welcome