ByElle McFarlane, writer at Creators.co
'There's always someone younger and hungrier coming down the stairs after you.'
Elle McFarlane

Labyrinth; a movie which conjures up memories of a young girl scouring an otherworldly maze to rescue her baby brother, of Jim Henson’s expertly crafted fantastical puppets, and of David Bowie’s bulging crotch. Generally, a movie which is remembered fondly, if not from its dreamlike visuals then for its incessantly catchy songs (here’s looking at you Magic Dance).

However, Redditor @TheWard has put forward a new fan theory which is ready to turn all of the magical innocence of the Goblin King’s realm into complete and utter disarray. How you ask? Well, imagine if Labyrinth was actually all about Sarah overcoming her trauma related to being sexually abused by her stepfather, otherwise known as the Goblin King himself. Hmm yes, things are about to get a bit dark.


Sarah's Bleak Backstory

@TheWard’s fan theory starts at the beginning, the very beginning, of the Labyrinth story. Taking the facts that we know to be true from when the movie starts, he infers the following concerning Sarah's (Jennifer Connelly’s) backstory:

  • When Sarah was around 10 years old her mother, Linda, had an affair with a fellow actor, Jeremy.
  • Sarah’s parents divorce and her father, Robert, meets another woman, Irene and they have a baby boy, Toby.
  • Jeremy ends up developing an obsession for Sarah and begins to molest her.
  • Sarah retreats into fantasy novels and toys as a means of coping with her latent trauma.

And this is where the movie starts, and where @TheWard’s fan theory is really seen in action.

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Setting The Scene

Labyrinth [Credit: TriStar Pictures]
Labyrinth [Credit: TriStar Pictures]

Labyrinth begins with Sarah reciting a monologue in a park which is clearly set within her own inner fantastical world, before she rushes home to look after her stepbrother Toby, for whom she harbors a great deal of resentment.

From here we see her bedroom, adorned with stuffed animals who will later become characters in the film. Most relevantly however, we see a photo of her mother stuck to her vanity mirror, standing beside her husband Jeremy, who just so happens to be David Bowie - who will appear as Jareth the Goblin King but moments later.

The Descent Into An Abuser’s Paradise

Once her father and step mother leave for their date, Sarah wishes for Jareth the Goblin King, a character from one of her favorite books, to take Toby away. Crossing over into her dreamworld, Jareth appears to her in the form of one her dolls, with Jeremy’s face.

From this point on, Jareth goads her and torments her as she makes her way further into the labyrinth - a metaphor for Sarah’s subconscious. @TheWard suggests that Sarah relieves her trauma when the Goblin King drugs her, which culminates in a dreamlike sequence where the two are together and ends in her panicking in a room full of patrons who laugh at her predicament — reflecting her sense of shame.

The Goblin King’s Abusive Rhetoric

Finding herself in a labyrinthian maze inspired by the works of M.C.Escher and trying in vein to chase after Toby, Sarah eventually comes face to face with Jareth (read, Jeremy) for the final time. As he begins to berate her for being thankless for all the good things he’s done for her, his words mirror those of an abusers, trying to legitimize all of his awful abusive acts by also being a ‘good guy.’

This is reflected in the series of weird statements he makes such as:

"Just let me rule you and you can have everything that you want… Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.”

And it is at this moment that Sarah comes to realize that the entire purpose of her wading deep into the ‘labyrinth’ of her mind isn’t to save Toby, it’s to save herself, to emancipate herself once and for all from her abuser. Turning to Jareth she resolutely states:

“You have no power over me.”

Sarah’s Path To Personal Healing

Labyrinth [Credit: TriStar Pictures]
Labyrinth [Credit: TriStar Pictures]

By standing up to her abuser, Sarah begins to realize that her traumatic experience was not her fault and that the dreamlike world she was trapped in suddenly shatters leaving her back in her everyday reality.

Having let go of her anger, she realizes that she was projecting all of her pent up rage onto baby Toby, and by using Jareth as an outlet for it, she is able to love Toby as her innocent baby brother, giving him an adoring caresses and sharing her most precious toys with him. Her parents return from their date and find Sarah a much happier, balanced child as she has been able to let go of her awful, abusive past.

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