With a recent re-re-(put “re” like, fifteen more times here) watching of Labyrinth, I’ve come to two finite conclusions: I’m not done talking about fairies, and Labyrinth is still eons better than Legend. While there was a lot that I didn’t like about Legend, I wasn’t able to cover it all in a concise manner. Yet here we are again, and I find myself with the time to discuss Legend’s atrocious portrayal of the fae in comparison to Labyrinth’s—the latter of which seems to keep closer to the actual lore surrounding the fae instead of discounting it entirely.
It could be that “fae” aren’t the first thing you think of when Labyrinth is brought up. Indeed, in popular culture, fairies are shown as cute or even beautiful in regards to our societal standards, and most of the inhabitants of the Labyrinth are bizarre, non-nonsensical, ugly, or downright threatening. Hell, even Jareth, beautiful man that he is, is called the “Goblin King” rather than the fairy king. Yet, despite common perception, these two things aren’t mutually exclusive. As it turns out, goblins are a type of fae, and have the same traits and rules as much as any winged wish granter. The only difference seems to be that while fairies have an ethereal sort of beauty attached to them, goblins (or trolls, or kobolds, or whatever you may call them) are equated with ugliness—given the track records of all other forms of media, it’s not really surprising that goblins and their ilk have been painted in a more negative light in falling out of this beauty standard. So when Sarah is dealing with Hoggle, Jareth, and all the other fantastical creatures in the Labyrinth, it’s just about the same as Jack dealing with Gump and the other magical creatures of the world of Legend. In terms of mythology, interpretations on the fae are about as varied as vampires or werewolves. So the issue here isn’t that these movies have different interpretations of the fae, it’s that Legend completely ignores the skeleton that the meat of lore can be built around. And how is this mistake manifested? By inferred intelligence.