Wednesday, January 13, 2016

David Bowie, owls and Labyrinth

Owl enters during a bedroom abduction
The barn owl looks very much like a gray alien
There is a curious set of events that play out in the 1986 film Labyrinth. Early on in the story a child is taken from his crib by small beings. There is a white barn owl watching through a window during this "bedroom abduction" scene. That owl later transforms to David Bowie.

Labyrinth was a fantasy directed by Muppet creator Jim Henson, with George Lucas as executive director. Teenager Jennifer Connelly confronts Jareth the Goblin King (Bowie) in a puppet filled dream realm. Bowie certainly resonates an alien after Ziggy and The Man Who Fell to Earth, and he does so again as an owl "watcher" in the bedroom abduction scene.
Enter Bowie
1986 was also the year that Whitley Strieber wrote the book Communion. This book is the first popular reference to owls out a window at the moment of alien abduction, that is is if you don't count Labyrinth. And Bowie also stared in the film adaptation of Strieber's book The Hunger (1983). Strieber has speculated that the vampires in The Hunger were his own subconscious metaphors for gray aliens.

Both Connelly and her little brother could be seen as UFO abductees. Both transported to another realm against their will. There is ample evidence that these experiences run in families.

The movie, including its title, is awash in mythic imagery and names—and this was obviously intentional by the filmmakers. In the tradition of the quintessential myth, the heroes journey, Connelly is tested by Bowie in a puppet filled giant maze. Like Jennifer Connelly, there is another J.C. who gets tested in a mythic book, this time by the Devil while alone in the desert.

What seems unintentional was the association of the owl and UFO abduction. I feel strongly that this arose out of the script unconsciously.
movie poster with owl and Bowie
image from a satirical site
The final scene shows Jennifer Connelly back home in her Muppet filled bedroom, with the David Bowie owl looking into her window. This is a somewhat creepy way to end a children's movie. The image above comes from a site that urges the viewers to turn Labyrinth into an audience participation event like The Rocky Horror Picture Show (another movie, according to Bruce Rux, with a metaphoric theme of UFO Abduction).

More about Labyrinth and its (rather accurate) depiction of the Fae Folk from author Joshua Cutchin, HERE.

Also of note: David Bowie has an album titled LOW.


JoshuaCutchin said...

Great write up Mike! Always loved this movie.
I too noticed the outlying weirdness of LABYRINTH—oddly enough, it has the most thematically accurate portrayals of the fae folk in cinema (there's even a food connection that resonates with my work).
I wrote a blog post that might make for some good supplemental reading to your post here (my apologies if this seems too self-serving):

Something NOT in the article that I noticed yesterday when listening to the soundtrack again—Bowie's title track is UNDERGROUND (where the fae typically reside), and features the lyrics "It's only forever... not long at all," which sounds an awful lot like the missing time in faerie land.

Mike Clelland! said...

Joshua -- Wow, you have the soundtrack to *Labyrinth* ?!?!? I lived thru the 80's and saw it first hand. Once was enough!

I gotta say the music in Labyrinth was, well, the reason I cringe at some 80's music.

But good post, I added a link it to the text above. Huge thanks. I noted the goblin offering fruit to JC in the movie. I thought of you immediately. This was my first viewing of Labyrinth.

I did notice the sheep dog was named "Merlin" and it barked at the owl. For me, a reference to TH Whites *Sword in the Stone"

Mike C

JoshuaCutchin said...

Yeah, there are some high points to the soundtrack and... mostly low points. AS THE WORLD FALLS DOWN could be a track from any other Bowie album, the others, not so much.

Thanks for the kind words. You'll also get a kick out of this—someone just posted the intro that Bowie did for the charming animated film THE SNOWMAN. All you have to do is watch the first 40 seconds to see its relevance...

Anonymous said...

Bowie made an album called LOW

Mike Clelland! said...

It took me a momte to figure out the comment above.


Mike C!

Elvee Kaye said...

Jennifer Connolly... Joshua Cutchin .... interesting, no? :)

Does anyone else recall the title of this movie as "The Labyrinth"?

John W said...

Just after I found out that Bowie had died, I went to Huffington Post only to find a story about how a rare video of a snowy owl in flight had been caught on a traffic camera. I immediately marveled at the synchronicity, such a perfect metaphor for the passing of someone who seemed more ET than human. I read HP pretty regularly so I was surprised to find out it was posted a few days earlier; how could I have missed it? Also, the time stamp on it was 4:44 which is my major synchronicity number.

Congrats on the book, I loved it. Amazing job!!

John W said...

Whoa! It's 6:45 for me in NJ, so I'm stunned to see that time stamp of 4:44 on my comment! Wow

Unknown said...

Haha nice! Numerology is creepy and i love it, since i was told recently not to fear fours like our eastern overlords do! Lol unlucky number if u ask my mom tho