Lessons of the Labyrinth (the movie)

One of my all time favorite movies is the Labyrinth. When I was young it was everything that I wanted in a movie. I identified with the main character so much, after all, who hasn’t felt like their parents just aren’t fair? Who hasn’t wanted an escape? Who hasn’t thought that life was just full of unfairness? When I rewatch it now, I am struck by some of the wonderful life lessons throughout the movie.

Lessons that I can identify with and see in myself, especially right now when life seems so danged unfair.

If you’ve never seen the movie (and don’t want to go watch it RIGHT NOW) let me tell you a little bit about it. It’s about a teenage girl named Sarah who is transported to a strange world by a Goblin King, in order to save her baby brother, who she wished would be taken by the Goblin King in the first place

The greatest theme throughout the Labyrinth is personal responsibility.

At the beginning of the movie you see Sarah out in the park rehearsing lines from a play. She realizes what time it is and has to hurry home to babysit her baby brother, something that she resents even though she doesn’t truly have anything else to do. When she realizes that one of her stuffed animals is missing and her brother Toby won’t stop crying, she gets quite fed up with her situation.

“I wish the goblins would come and take you away! Right now!”

She leaves the room and abruptly her brother stops crying. Concerned, she looks in on him only to realize that he’s gone. The Goblin King appears and Sarah realizes her mistake and asks for her brother back, but the Goblin King, Jareth, tells her that she can’t take it back. “What’s said is said.” If she wants to have her brother back she must go through the Labyrinth in order to retrieve him.

Even though Sarah would rather spend time with her books, plays, stuffed animals, and getting lost in her imagination, she realizes that she must be the one to save her brother. It’s her responsibility.

For the first part of the movie Sarah runs into different creatures expecting them to help her just because, regardless of the fact that she hasn’t done anything to deserve it. She has such a sense of entitlement and believes that even though she put herself in the situation, other people should help her out of it.

I’ve been guilty of this. It took me a long time to realize that I was responsible for my feelings and actions. I would blame other people for how I felt, for not making time for me just because, for not reading my mind when I wanted something. I’m forever learning that my feelings are owned by me and my actions are my own and no one else’s. Good lesson, sometimes it’s hard to make it stick!

Life is not fair.

Sarah also has to realize that life isn’t fair. She keeps getting upset because the rules keep changing and she doesn’t understand why. She’s trying to do the right thing, she’s trying to make up for her mistake, but everything keeps going wrong while she keeps expecting that everything should go her way. It’s a hard lesson for her to learn, but when she realizes that life isn’t fair it marks a time of growth for her. She realizes that she has to fight for what she wants and not just expect that life will treat her fairly.

I can’t count how many times I’ve said “It’s not fair.” in the last few weeks. It hasn’t been fair, but there’s very little I can do about it. What happens, happens, and I can either whine and complain about how life isn’t being fair, or I can find a way to deal with it, try to make it better if I can, and move on.

Things aren’t always what they seem.

The labyrinth and the creatures within it are never what they seem. Despite the dark look of the labyrinth, it’s alive with different creatures. Beautiful fairies are evil, huge furry monsters can be great friends, helping hands aren’t always helpful, sometimes warnings point the right way, and most of all you can’t judge something just by what you see on the outside.

I am guilty of letting my first impressions last longer than they should. Sometimes it’s hard to look past what you see on the outside to discover what’s really deep down inside. This also applies to YOU, you aren’t always what you seem either. There are things inside of you that you haven’t even begin to discover yet!

In the end you’ve just got to believe in yourself.

Sarah gets her brother back in the end because she refuses to let the Goblin King have power over her. She realizes that she is strong and brave and that she is ultimately just as powerful as anyone else. It all lies within her, all she has to do is acknowledge it and believe it.

“For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great — You have no power over me.”

What childhood movies have held the best lessons for you?