Archive for June 2009
I guess I have been fixated on the Labyrinth, the movie, the manga, the fan fiction, the essays, the art, the characters, the mythology, the symbolism…. Maybe, the movie and all these other stuff just represent something I have been looking for myself.
When I first saw the movie as a 15-year old, it was just an adventure, slightly menacing—but I didn’t know where the menace was coming from. I knew there was something… odd, especially during the Escher room scene: the Goblin King was again trying to confuse Sarah with his spells and time-bending illusions, so she will fail to rescue the baby brother he snatched from her—yet, as he was singing his deadly glamor, he looked so sad, and lonely.
I am what my friends call me, a late bloomer… very late.
Labyrinth became one of my favorites, in the same league as Neverending Story, Lady Hawke, and Terminator. Over the years, I watched it again, and again, and again, and then I forgot about it.
A couple of months ago, in one of my hunting expeditions at Booksale, I found a copy of a manga, Jim Henson’s Return to Labyrinth. I debated buying it; after all, I’m too grown up to be reading this stuff still. For nostalgia’s sake, as a trophy (maybe, I could trade it with a fellow bookworm), I bought it, even if at that time, I doubted I would enjoy reading it much.
I didn’t much. But I did remember the movie, so I researched it online, and discovered there were thousands upon thousands of forums, sites, and fan fiction devoted to everything Labyrinth. I was intrigued, tried to recall the scenes and dialogue in my mind, to look again at the movie in my mind’s eye.
And I realized: I’m looking at it with new, yet older eyes. The Labyrinth has taken on a darker aspect, a serious tone. Apparently, it was stuffed full of metaphors and imagery that go straight for the subconscious. The producers had more themes in mind than just a growing-up of a little girl; they injected all sorts of deep and weird ideas, on practically all convenient spots in the movie—in the crystal balls, the snake that turns into a goblin, the peach, the ballroom, the masked dancers, the bog of eternal stench, the wise man and his snickering bird-hat, and so on and so forth.
Even before I started to read the exhaustive essays and fan fiction about the Labyrinth, I figured out—or I interpreted—that the labyrinth is supposed to stand for the complexities of the subconscious, our dreams, hopes, and fears. The goblin king is the key to that mystery, yet he also stands for seduction and temptation. To surrender to him is to turn our back on duty; on all that is holy, maybe; and, definitely, life.
When Sarah rejected him, she rejected the power of her darkest urges over her. She chose to grow up, in the real world.
Much has been made about this wooing of the innocent by the wicked. A million, million fan girls have swooned from the very idea. I swoon too… just a little, mind you! But I am adult despite the adolescent still nesting in my subconscious abode (I thought I had kicked it out, darn it…), and I am more disturbed by the idea of the subconscious’s power to create and destroy… and manipulate.
If you will inspect Sarah’s room near the beginning of the movie (hit the pause button every now and then), you will recognize many of the elements characterizing the movie scattered about her room. She has stuffed toys of Sir Didymus, the fox-squirrel knight, of Ludo, the gentle beast, of the dwarf Hoggle who became her best friend. The poster on her wall is that of an Escher painting. There is a miniature labyrinth on her bookshelf. The photograph of her mom’s new boyfriend looked eerily similar to the Goblin King. On her vanity table is a music box, on which a doll twirls in a sugar-spun white ballroom gown.
If the Labyrinth is Sarah’s subconscious, and all the creatures there patterned after her imaginings, what is the Goblin King then? A villain for her sake? So she could be the hero and save the day?
You’ve run so long… You’ve run so far
Your eyes can be so cruel… Just as I can be so cruel…
Though I do believe in you… Yes I do
Live without the sunlight… Love without your heartbeat
I, I can’t live within you
When I watched the movie again, I had this odd thought: Sarah Williams, the innocent little girl, is maybe the true villain, the most cruel puppeteer that ever lived, for she made her puppet love her, and hurt her…. then she rejected him.
Gahd, this is all too much. Maybe, I should try to look at the Labyrinth the way a very opinionated cubicle-dweller friend does: when she watched the movie, all she saw was a man in drag wearing heavier make-up than the girl, prancing around in tights. She fell off her chair, laughing.
Labyrinth was produced by George Lucas, directed by Jim Henson, and co-written by children’s author Dennis Lee and Monty Python alumnus Terry Jones in 1998. The movie stars Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie.
<br><object width=”330″ height=”200″><embed src=”http://lyrics.stlyrics.com/lyrscroll.swf?page=http%3A//www%2Estlyrics%2Ecom/lyrics/labyrinth/withinyou%2Ehtm” bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” width=”330″ height=”200″ name=”lyrscroll” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowScriptAccess=”never” allownetworking=”all” /></object><br><a href=”http://www.stlyrics.com” target=”_blank”>Lyrics</a> | <a href=http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/labyrinth/withinyou.htm target=_blank>Bowie, David – Within You lyrics</a>
The Goblin King, an introverted geek?
I have mixed reactions about this volume. On one hand, I loved the scenes that played out between Jareth and Sarah. He’s a mixed bag himself: Does he hate her? Does he love her? Does he want to destroy her? Or does he want to save her?
On the other hand, I hate that it violates the logic set by the movie. Is her will not as as strong? Her kingdom great? If the writer was true to this fundamental principle of the Labyrinth Champion’s character, I doubt the story would take the route it did in the manga.
Jareth and Mizumi would not be able to steal her dreams all those years ago. The Goblin King would not be able to affect Sarah’s memory of her brother Toby. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, she fought her way to the castle, beyond the Goblin City, to impress on the Goblin King that he had no power over her.
And it was true: he had no power over her—and this drove him almost crazy.
So I don’t understand why Sarah is almost putty in these two fae’s hands now.
Anyway, in this volume, we get to know the characters surrounding Toby a little better, and to identify with their own struggle within the Labyrinth of their psche: Toby’s devoted goblin friend Skub, trying to be brave but always failing in the past; Mayor Spittledrum, Jareth’s ass-kissing flunky, knowing more than he should but actually serving to the best of his ability, warts and all; and Mizumi’s daughters, loyal, always trying to impress their mummy dearest.
In this manga, my favorite character is Moulin, always followed by a tiny thundercloud, and reading a book (the same book?). I love her outfit.
Speaking about outfits, what’s with Jareth’s clothes? They’re loose and cover him completely from the neck down. He’s positively conservative! Puleaze, why couldn’t the writer get this simple fact straight? Jareth isn’t Jareth without the tight pants!
In volume 4, please get this right, ok?
<br><object width=”330″ height=”200″><embed src=”http://lyrics.stlyrics.com/lyrscroll.swf?page=http%3A//www%2Estlyrics%2Ecom/lyrics/labyrinth/chillydown%2Ehtm” bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” width=”330″ height=”200″ name=”lyrscroll” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowScriptAccess=”never” allownetworking=”all” /></object><br><a href=”http://www.stlyrics.com” target=”_blank”>Lyrics</a> | <a href=http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/labyrinth/chillydown.htm target=_blank>Bowie, David – Chilly Down lyrics</a>
Better than the first volume, as it has a lot more of Jareth and Sarah, nonsensical humor from the goblins and by the goblins, corny puns, and silly gags, and gives us a sweet look into the events, the heartbreaks, that made the manga’s major characters the way they are now.
It shows us the loneliness of Queen Mizumi, obviously a villain but not without cause, when Jareth turned his back on her a thousand years ago; the emptiness of Moppet’s past before she was taken in by mayor Spittledrum; and Jareth, right after being defeated by 15-year old Sarah, what he did to get his power back, and how he failed—which eventually led to the straits the Labyrinth is in now, abandoned, without a heart and will, unless Toby accepts his role as new King of the Goblins.
I absolutely loved the last panel. Jareth goes back above ground, after dropping his bombshell on the Goblin Kingdom and overconfident Mizumi, to settle scores (or to take revenge? Or for something else?) with Sarah, now an English teacher.
Meanwhile, Toby is by turns a spoiled little boy and caring individual. He has a lot of growing up to do, I feel, before he can pass the tests Jareth cleverly dropped on his lap. His friends will help, if only he remembers to think about them.
I think the characters are better drawn in this volume—at least, Sarah is looking less dowdy. There is one drawing of the Goblin King, in the museum, which comes really close to David Bowie’s character (exuding sex-appeal, you know)–I’m wondering why the artist didn’t draw him like that all the time!
The Guest Art Gallery, by 12 contributors, composed of their interpretations of the Labyrinth characters, is really cool.
<br><object width=”330″ height=”200″><embed src=”http://lyrics.stlyrics.com/lyrscroll.swf?page=http%3A//www%2Estlyrics%2Ecom/lyrics/labyrinth/magicdance%2Ehtm” bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” width=”330″ height=”200″ name=”lyrscroll” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowScriptAccess=”never” allownetworking=”all” /></object><br><a href=”http://www.stlyrics.com” target=”_blank”>Lyrics</a> | <a href=http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/labyrinth/magicdance.htm target=_blank>Bowie, David – Magic Dance lyrics</a>
MacKayla Lane Lane, fresh but bruised from her encounter with the Lord Master, who she suspects murdered her sister, is determined more than ever to locate the Sinsar Dubh, allegedly authored over a million years ago by the Unseelie King, and is said to hold the deadliest of all magic. Helping her, or deceiving her, are V’Lane, a Seelie prince, as lethal as he is sexy, and Jericho Barrons, who uses her talent ruthlessly yet who swears he will keep her alive at all costs.
Some books I savor, read slowly, rolling the taste and texture of the words, story, characters, and setting in my mouth. I feel very civilized and sophisticated when I read this way.
But with other books, I gulp, I snort down, I inhale, not bothering to breathe properly, the twists and turns, the visions that overwhelm me with every line, quote, and punctuation marks. I hardly see the words; the book transforms into a movie, and I must read, read, read so the scenes will play on uninterrupted. I am a barbarian, and I love it.
With Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning, I can’t help but be a barbarian.
And I’m not ashamed; because on top of the brisk plotting, the characters that we may hate or dislike but cannot dismiss as flat, the surface tension that’s painfully fragile over Dublin’s streets and rooftops, the machinations that have been playing out across millennia from Fae to humanity is good writing, Irish folklore infusing each light and dark passages from one scene to the next, and unimaginably powerful chemistry between characters.
This last item is something we sense only most of the time, though, as the book does not indulge in bodice-ripping, thank goodness. There is bodice-ripping in this volume, but only because he and she (won’t say who) almost didn’t make it, only did so by making hard choices.
Now, as much as I enjoyed this volume, I am apprehensive about the next three ones. I hear there are going to be five volumes to this series. When something takes that long to build up, what follows may be a long fall. I’d hate that. I have grand expectations: will the succeeding volumes be a match for them?
The Fever Series has a cool website. The intro page has this creepy animation of Dublin at night, with thunders and lightning, and shadows that are probably hiding all the creatures I’ve read about in the book…If you have trouble visualizing the setting, visiting it will make the story come alive for you. Website at www.sidhe-seersinc.com.
I was into the first chapter of Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre, when something made me pick up Wraith by Phaedra Weldon. The first chapter got me hooked: the beginning was nice; the middle, startling; and the end, shocking. After Sins & Shadows by Lyn Benedict, I wanted a paranormal mystery heroine that isn’t so fierce and intelligent for a change.
But… Just like numerous characters, good and bad, in fantasy stories everywhere, I forgot to take heed of that classic warning, “be careful what you wish for, you might get it,” I wished, and, indeed, got very little of the ‘smarts’ that make heroines admirable…
Even though Zoe Martinique has the ability to astral-travel, a talent that launched her career as a small-time snoop, she is far from being able to handle murder, on the physical and spiritual levels. While out of body, she witnesses a ghostly creature, who she dubbed Trench-Coat, shoot and steal the soul of the man he killed.
What’s more harrowing, this improbable killer can see and hurt her.
What follows is one mishap after another, due to Zoe’s insatiable curiosity and incomprehensible logic of why she has to dive into the thick of things with little preparation and no word to those who can help in case something goes wrong—which something always does!
I don’t know who were at their wits end more, me or Zoe’s psychic mother, the goth-techno friend, or their two gay ghost housemates. By the nth kidnapping, abduction, serious injury, I was pulling my hair by the roots. It didn’t help that Zoe is a trying-hard pa-cute, hard-headed mama’s girl! Her habit of making mental notes at very other page was also distracting.
If only her love interest, Lieutenant Daniel fraser, would be sharper. But no; he’s an open book, and he probably thinks his case is too, spilling all the juicy details to then stranger Zoe just because she asked.
On the brighter side, despite these irritants, the plot and supernatural elements are interesting. I was engaged enough by the story, even if I had to crawl my way past my own mental notes (why, you dumb….!; no, don’t do thaat!!!; wait for ….!!!!) to finish it, and read the sequels—but only because I have this irritating habit of finishing what I started… despite the mental notes.
A magical force pulls book-repair expert Diana Crossways into 17th-century england, to a town where pagans gather and live in peace with unsuspecting Puritans. She is adopted by a townsfolk, thinking Diana fae. She tries to blend in, as she knows that this is a time in which the strange and unusual are branded as witches. From what she remembers of her history, the witch-finder general is cutting a bloody path across England; soon he will reach Diana’s little town. Diana doesn’t know that the witch-finder sends a man he calls his hellhound first to scout out his next slaughterhouse. This hellhound is more than he seems, though: a creature trapped inside himself. He encounters the woman from the future in the forest, the very moment she is brought there, and something awakens inside himself.. He calls her his righ-malkin.
Terrific fantasy and romance. But for the life of me, I can’t fathom the market forces that mislabeled this as historical romance—because it’s so much more than that. This is hardly fluff; it’s very well written, well researched, and quite intense. It reminds me of Katharine Kerr and Diana Gabaldon, though less epic in scale and lighter on the soul.
I particularly liked the ending: she chose love, whatever, wherever it may lead… which may not be wise and practical of her, bringing no happy endings perhaps. But the book is done, so their story is ours to do with however we wish. I choose to give them a way home.
The blurb was vague. Bookstore owner Sylvia is reluctant to return to her woodland home; something in the woods, something about herself scared her away. But when her grandfather dies, she knows she has to go home, and face her grandmother, with all her expectations… and all her fears.
I wasn’t mesmerized as I was reading the first few chapters. The story took its time in favor of setting and atmosphere. But, I knew, since this is McKillip, who weaves magic with words, I would be breathless soon.
And I am… The elegant prose, the sunlight on green, the rustle of woodlands, the strangeness, the beauty, and the peril–they make me wish that I myself stand on that place between everyday and something else, something wondrous, and something fey.
Just so I can catch a glimpse; be forever theirs. Maybe, it’s worth it.
Based on a video game series, Neo Angelique Abyss tries to press all the right buttons for anime-loving young ladies and gallantry-inspired young men, naively assuming that it only needs three major components to make it work: a beautiful girl, heroic young men, and an evil to be conquered…
The land of Arcadia is beset by life-devouring monsters called Thanatos. Warriors with the power to vanquish them are called Purifiers. Angelique is a 16-year old student who discovers she has the power to purify through praying when her boarding school is attacked by the Thanatos. Together with four warriors (whip-lashing gentleman Mr Nyx, gun-slinging former professor Rayne, chako-wielding strong guy J.D., and spear-waving former Knight Hyuga), she travels from one town to another, vanguishing demons, and blushing each time a guy–practically every guy in this series–flirts with her.
Unfortunately, the beautiful girl is too nice to be interesting, the heroic young men all too willing to fall in love with her, and the evil is just a convenient excuse for all the fighting. Boring activated.
I’ve returned to the Labyrinth, and I love it!
In1986, there was a dark fantasy movie about an imaginative 15-year old girl who wished her baby brother away. The Goblin King appeared to grant that wish. Regretful, frantic over her moment of thoughtlessness, she made a bargain with the king to solve the Labyrinth within 13 hours. If she fails, the king keeps the baby forever, as one of his goblins in the Underground Kingdom.
The girl’s name was Sarah, the baby’s, Toby, and the Goblin King’s, Jareth. As she went on her quest, Sarah met strange and wonderful creatures: the dwarf Hoggle, squirrel-fox Sir Didymus, and gentle beast Ludo.
Jareth was portrayed by David Bowie and Sarah by Jennifer Connelly in the movie.
Since then, countless adolescents, and adults, have fallen under the Labyrinth’s spell. Every now and then, there is a resurgence of interest, as evidenced by the flood of fan fiction on the net and consistent good sales of the DVD.
Produced by George Lucas, directed by Jim Henson, and co-written by children’s author Dennis Lee and Monty Python alumnus Terry Jones, Labyrinth is winning the test of time, and is on its way to becoming a classic… I’m quite sure (and I’m quite giddy at the thought), years from now, there will be a movie sequel, an anime series, and even telenovelas based on the original story.
For now, there is an OEL manga series, Return to Labyrinth, in the works. Story by Jake T Forbes and art by Chris Lie, the first volume centers on teenage Toby as he struggles through adolescent angst, and finding himself back in the Labyrinth via the schemes of the Goblin King.*
Though I’m not crazy about this focus, away from Sarah, with little of the adventure and whimsical drama of the movie, and none of its logic puzzles and nonsensical humor, I still really enjoyed reading the manga.
Sarah in this reincarnation is a teacher, older, dowdy, and sad. At first, I was aghast. Her will, as strong as the Goblin King’s, would not have allowed her to fall so low. Much of why we love the movie is that will, that spirit of defiance against an otherworldly force: she is destined for greatness, that one, and she shines with that potential.
So imagine my chagrin to see her missing from the cover and drawn like a woman who is just like any other on the inside pages. Fangirls the world over must have had a fit.
In fairness, the cover art, by Kouyu Shurei, is gorgeous.
Nevertheless, I don’t regret having discovered this series. Rather disappointed at first, I tried to imagine its potential, realizing I should give it a chance—there are three more volumes to go after all. There are hints enough of a more exciting storyline in the sequels.
With the Goblin King appropriately mean and enigmatic, as devilishly handsome as ever (in my imagination, and close enough in the manga), I am thinking I have good reason to look forward to this. Though the first volume focused on Toby, I believe this is a smokescreen—Jareth probably has an ulterior motive… He isn’t done with the girl yet, and uses her brother to draw her back into the Labyrinth.
He probably is also plotting revenge on the mortal girl who defeated him 13 years ago… but then, this is the Goblin King, who would be much less interesting if he were nice.
So here I am as well, back in Labyrinth, stuck on it, in fact. Thanks to Return to Labyrinth, which made me remember.
*Original English Language Manga. The first volume was released in 2006; the fourth volume is set to be released next year.
<br><object width=”330″ height=”200″><embed src=”http://lyrics.stlyrics.com/lyrscroll.swf?page=http%3A//www%2Estlyrics%2Ecom/lyrics/labyrinth/underground%2Ehtm” bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” width=”330″ height=”200″ name=”lyrscroll” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowScriptAccess=”never” allownetworking=”all” /></object><br><a href=”http://www.stlyrics.com” target=”_blank”>Lyrics</a> | <a href=http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/labyrinth/underground.htm target=_blank>Bowie, David – Underground lyrics</a>
Sylvie has had it. An employee dead at the hands of Satanists, too much blood on her hands, her Shadows Inquiries is taking her to hell. So she retires—or tries to. But a god looking for his missing lover will hear of no other answer but ‘yes’ to his divine command to search. Even tough-as-nails Sylvie must bend to that will, just as the world is doing, even to the point of breaking.
When gods remake the world, what we get may only be pieces of what we wished for.
In Sins and Shadows, I got these pieces to my heart’s content—gritty detective work, a tough-talking female protagonist, Sylvie Lightner, investigator of the unknown, killer of monsters, immortal creatures, monsters that walk amongst us, and fast-paced action.
But I also got bits of what I’m not really comfortable with: a universe remade as a battleground for gods and goddesses (our God included), a heroine with hardly any softness, tough on everything, tougher on the kill, with little compunction and too much satisfaction on carrying out dirty but necessary deeds, and a romance made for heaven, with nothing left over for spiteful humans, and certainly nothing but bad endings for Sylvie, most spiteful of all.
Reading this, I had little fun—it was too dark and bitter and cold, like drinking acid that brings on hallucinations. The trip is awesome—but I’m not quite sure I’d want to do it again. Even if I’m curious about Sylvie’s history, which the book, the first of a series, I imagine, only give droplets of throughout the story, but in a way that makes me reconsider whether this really is the first book.
Should I be hunting short stories hidden in anthologies then? Or is this just the author’s style, to lure readers right into the middle of a long and troubled road? In this volume, I land right smack at a turning point: Sylvie, ordinary mortal, may be the monster she hunts and kills after all.
When gods collide, expect the worst.