That's the biggest difference between the Dorothies in these two movies. If you really stop and think about it, the original Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz never actually did anything. She glided along the entire movie, passively accepting the adventures happening. She got knocked out during a tornado. Her house accidentally landed on the witch. She didn't even technically put on the slippers; Glinda did it for her with magic. She followed a road that was already conveniently built. She didn't have to bring anyone to life, or solve any puzzles. She bent a nail and the Scarecrow fell off his post. She picked up an oil can that was at her feet, and alive came the Tin Man. Even the lion didn't tear her face off. All she had to do was walk, and everything kind of just ... happened to her.
Imagine this character being thrown into Return To Oz, where she has to figure out literally everything happening to her on her own. The yellow brick road was smashed. The women were missing their heads. The Nome King was turning dudes into green ornaments, and for some reason had an aversion to eggs. There's almost no way that Garland's squawking, rambling Dorothy would have survived being chased by the Wheelers for five seconds. They'd hustle her ass over to the Deadly Desert, she'd turn to sand, and the movie would thankfully be over. It would end in 42 seconds with "Somewheeerrre ... over the raaaiinb- OH DEAR CHRIST, THEY'RE TEARING OFF MY FUCKING FACE!"
Sarah From Labyrinth Drags The Entire Narrative Down The Toilet With Her Shitty Boredom
What makes Labyrinth so interesting to examine is the infinite number of directions the story could have gone in if only the protagonist, Sarah, was more like a person -- any kind of person. She goes from manic and pissed to completely non-reactive so fast that it makes her completely unrelatable to the viewer. And through the whole movie, Jareth the Goblin King is giving her fuck eyes and trying to convince the viewer how special she is. One of the reasons Labyrinth was originally panned has to be that Sarah isn't a character most people want to kick it in a maze with.
Out of the gate, Sarah is deranged and cruel to her family. She spits hate in a narcissistic monologue fashion. Really, all her dad and stepmother asked her to do was babysit her brother so they could toss back a few drinks and pretend they aren't totally drained by that shitty thing called being adults.
Sarah summons Jareth, a warlock with a very prominent pants bulge (whose makeup rivals Mark Hamill's in the Star Wars Holiday Special), along with a whole mess of Jim Henson puppets, by wishing he would kidnap her baby brother. Jareth takes the baby and tells her that if she wants him back, she'll have to make it to the castle at the center of the Labyrinth in under 13 hours. Now, all of a sudden, Sarah stops Shakespearean screaming and hating on everything. She, without any sort of amazed, frightened, or intrigued reaction, says, "Come on feet, let's go."
What's even weirder here is that based on what we've seen of Sarah up to this point, why would she even step into that maze? She's displayed zero sense of loyalty, bravery, or compassion. I'd buy it from her if she scoffed, grabbed a copy of Seventeen, and was basically like, "Let the parents hit that maze. Their baby, their problem." I'd also buy it from her if she saw Jareth, threw him onto her parents' bed, and took a ride to the bone zone on that sweet Dance Magic Bulge. This reaction would be very realistic and acceptable. I know many a girl who at 15 would have performed similar actions. Hell, I'd even take it if she suddenly changed her tune and screamed at Jareth that she was speaking out of anger, that she didn't mean what she said and he needed to give her back her baby brother right goddamn now.
But absolutely nobody would look out their regular-ass suburban window, see their world transformed into a magical castle and labyrinth, and basically roll their eyes and go, "Fine. I guess I'll go," and then walk through the scenery with the same lack of enthusiasm as a community college freshman on her way to Bio Lab. Especially during the dungeon scene, in which Jareth shows up out of nowhere, leans on the wall like a cool dude trying to impress a girl, and says, "So, how do you like my Labyrinth?" and Sarah, with a bored expression, says, "It's a piece of cake." I swear, she was seconds away from saying, "Pfft, it's OK, I guess. You know, for a boring-ass Labyrinth." It makes sense that in a world of goblins and monsters, the strongest reaction we get from Sarah is during her visit to the fart swamp.
You can be part of Loryn's fantasy adventure on Twitter. She also has a pop culture blog, "Sometimes I Write Funny Things."
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