Today marks the release of Labyrinth’s big 30th anniversary Blu-ray. The set has great special features, like a new Labyrinth Q&A between Adam Savage and Brian Henson, David Goelz, and Karen Prell, as well as a look at the very special Labyrinth exhibit at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, George.
But the set's biggest draw is the new 4K transfer of the film overseen by Brian Henson himself. For Labyrinth fans, and I know there are a lot of you out there, this is a big deal as it offers the greatest presentation the film has ever enjoyed, so much so that Henson had to go in and digitally remove wires and other tricks of the trade the new clarity made visible when it hadn’t been previously.
To help celebrate this big release, I was flown to Dragon Con in Atlanta, an absolute crazy convention that shoves thousands and thousands of fans, most of them donning impressively intricate cosplay, into two big hotels and lets them go crazy with panels and special events. It’s like Comic-Con but way more concentrated and grown up. I don’t mean more mature. I mean every June it’s likely the world gets a whole bunch of “Dragon Con babies”. I saw binders of butts.
But my time at the con was very centered around Labyrinth. The first, and probably best thing I got to experience was a tour of the Center for Puppetry Arts’ very special Labyrinth exhibit, which features a ton of actual props from the film carefully arranged throughout a mini labyrinth you traverse while reading all about how the film was made. They had everything: costumes, weapons, full puppets, Jareth’s crystal balls, even a skinless, full-sized plaster version of Hoggle’s head.
After this, I saw a panel focused on how this exhibit came together. Time has not been kind to many of these props (supposedly, the full-body Hoggle no longer even exists, for instance) and restoring them for public display took a massive amount of time, effort and straight up on the spot invention. Luckily, the Henson company kept their vaults pretty open for the exhibit, so those who see it really do get an impressive look at the creatures that make Labyrinth so magic even thirty years after its release.
Speaking of its enduring popularity, I also got to attend a Labyrinth quote-a-long and can tell you first hand that people still adore this movie. The cosplay alone was kind of extreme, but on top of that, people were having a blast making absolutely sure everyone around them knew they knew every line in the film. And of course, there were huge cheers any time David Bowie appeared on-screen.
The next day, I went to a big panel with Brian Henson and Karen Prell which focused on some of the film’s more intricate puppet creations like Hoggle, who came to life thanks to a animatronic head atop a little person who had to act without being able to see. It was a lively, entertaining discussion filled with a lot of personal affection for the finished film, though I'm not sure how much of the information was new to Labyrinth die hards.
Labyrinth appears to be very much a live in the hearts of fans, so I imagine this 30th anniversary celebration of the film feels very satisfying to those who never stopped loving it. The Blu-ray came out today and should help keep that fandom going even longer.