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|“||Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl whose stepmother always made her stay home with the baby. And the baby was a spoiled child, and wanted everything to himself, and the young girl was practically a slave. But what no one knew was that the king of the goblins had fallen in love with the the girl, and he had given her certain powers. So one night, when the baby had been particularly cruel to her, she called on the goblins for help!||„|
|~ Sarah telling her story.|
|“||You have no power over me.||„|
|~ Sarah to Jareth.|
Sarah Williams is the main protagonist of the 1986 Jim Henson film, Labyrinth. She is portrayed by Jennifer Connelly, whose other film roles include Jenny Blake from Disney's The Rocketeer, Jennifer Corvino in Phenomena and Betty Ross from Hulk. Sarah is 16 years old and is the daughter of Robert and Linda, the step-daughter of Irene, and the older half-sister of Toby. One night, when she is babysitting her baby half-brother Toby, she angrily summons Jareth the Goblin King to take Toby away. In order to rescue Toby she must go through Jareth's labyrinth which leads to the Goblin City. Her friends are Hoggle, a grouchy dwarf, Ludo, a gentle beast, and Sir Didymus, a fox knight with a sheepdog named Ambrosius (whom he uses for a horse). Sarah learns to be careful with her wishes, and that everybody has to grow up... but that doesn't have to mean losing your inner child, but rather keeping it hidden and not letting it interfere with something important.
At the start of Labyrinth, Sarah is seen acting out a scene from the play The Labyrinth as her sheep-dog Merlin watches. When the town clock strikes seven o' clock, Sarah remembers that she has to babysit her infant brother Toby, quickly raises the skirt of her long gown to reveal a pair of jeans and runs back home.
Upon returning home Sarah is told off by her step-mother Irene for being late, as she and Sarah's father, Robert, were due to go out for the evening. This sends Sarah into a rage, and she storms upstairs to her room. Her parents put Toby in his cot, and much to Sarah's disgust call up to tell her they are leaving. Upon discovering that her toy bear Lancelot is missing from her shelf, Sarah storms into her half-brother's room (causing him to cry) and finds the bear with him.
Sarah is incensed and initially wishes that someone would take her away from "this awful place," lifting Toby out of his cot and telling him a story that mirrors her own situation. She calms down, but as she leaves the room Toby continues to cry and she says "I wish the Goblins would come and take you away. Right now." Sarah flicks the light switch off, but the next moment Toby goes silent. When she tries to turn the light on again, the switch fails to work. Upon re-entering the room, Sarah finds that Toby has vanished.
After Toby's disappearance a white barn owl flies into the room, and transforms into Jareth, the Goblin King. Jareth tells Sarah that he has taken the baby as she asked, and offers her a crystal that will reveal her dreams if she forgets about her brother. Sarah declines, and Jareth tells her that she has thirteen hours to rescue her brother from his Labyrinth and that he will turn the baby into "one of us forever" if she fails to reach him in time.
Sarah sets off on her quest and quickly encounters Hoggle, a dwarf who works as a gardener in Jareth's Labyrinth. When Sarah first meets Hoggle, he is stunning faeries with a spray-gun. Sympathetic, Sarah lifts one of the faeries up in her hand to tend to it, only for it to bite her finger. After this, Sarah asks Hoggle to show her the entrance to Jareth's Labyrinth and is led to the front gates the open as she approaches. Hoggle leaves Sarah to enter the Labyrinth alone, and the doors of the Labyrinth swing shut behind him leaving Sarah with no choice but to move forward alone.
After running through the same walled corridor for a sustained period of time without making any progress, Sarah stops and hits the walls in frustration. She slumps down against one of the walls in defeat, and is addressed by a Worm who lives in a crack in the wall. The Worm tells Sarah that things in the Labyrinth are not always what they seem, and suggests that she try walking through the wall adjacent to them as it contains an opening. Unable to see a way out, Sarah nonetheless approaches the wall and finds an opening just as the worm said.
Sarah enters a new area of the Labyrinth formed of oddly shaped walls and dead ends. Sarah tries to mark the route she is taking with lipstick, but eventually finds there are small creatures over-turning the stones she is marking, making her system useless. Sarah eventually encounters The Four Guards who are assigned to two doors; one of the doors leads to the next area of the Labyrinth while the other leads to certain death. The guards challenge Sarah with a logic puzzle, which after some thought she solves. She takes the correct door, but fails to look where she is going and falls down a tunnel lined with hundreds of animated, scaled hands that catch her mid-fall.
The hands ask Sarah if she wants to go up or down, and Sarah chooses down only to find herself lowered into an Oubliette, a dark pit where The Goblin King is said to leave people he wishes to forget about. Hoggle is sent by Jareth to release Sarah from the Oubliette, and by tempting him with the offer of a plastic bracelet she has with her Sarah is able to persuade him to take her back into the Labyrinth. Hoggle leads Sarah past a series of huge false alarms (animated faces cut into the walls of the passage) to the entrance but they encounter Jareth, who is disguised as a blind beggar. Sarah irritates Jareth by describing his Labyrinth as "a piece of cake," provoking him to send a large, mechanical device (known as The Cleaners) after her and Hoggle which makes them run for their lives. Faced with a dead end, they manage to push down a false wall and escape moments before the machine collides with them.
Sarah and Hoggle climb up a ladder and emerge in a courtyard which is home to The Wiseman, who offers Sarah a few words of rambling advice in exchange for her ring. Hoggle attempts to leave Sarah after their encounter with The Wiseman, but she snatches his collection of plastic jewelry and refuses to return it unless he agrees to lead her through the Labyrinth. Reluctantly, Hoggle agrees to take Sarah as far as he can. They both continue through a hedge garden, and as they are walking Sarah tells Hoggle he is the only friend she has in the Labyrinth. Hoggle seems startled by this, and tells Sarah he has never had a friend before. Just after this exchange, they are stopped by a pained roar that makes Hoggle flee in fear despite Sarah's attempts to stop him.
Sarah goes forward to investigate the noise, and finds Ludo, a huge, shaggy-haired monster, being tormented by a group of mounted guards wielding horrific, biting monster on sticks. Sarah makes the guards leave by throwing rocks at them that Ludo, who has power over rocks, moves towards her. Sarah releases Ludo from his bounds, and finding that he is kind and gentle she allows him to join her on her journey. Together, Sarah and Ludo find two doors with talking door knockers attached to them. Sarah and Ludo pass through one of the doors into a dank, dimly lit forest. Soon after they enter, Ludo vanishes and Sarah is left to go through the forest alone.
Sarah soon encounters the Fireys, a group of wild, fun loving creatures with detachable body parts who attempt to remove Sarah's head. Sarah runs away from them, and comes to a rocky cliff face. She is saved by Hoggle, who lowers a rope for her to climb. In her gratitude, Sarah kisses Hoggle and they both instantly drop through a trap-door. They come out on a ledge above the Bog Of Eternal Stench, and manage to avoid falling in by edging their way across to safety. They meet Ludo as they are finding their way across the Bog, but are stopped from leaving it by Sir Didymus, a small, fox-terrier like Knight who considers it his duty to defend the bridge at all costs.
Sarah asks Sir Didymus for his permission to cross the bridge, and they are allowed to go across. The bridge breaks as Sarah is crossing it, but she clings to a branch hanging overhead and is saved from falling into the Bog by Ludo, who makes rocks rise up in the bog that Sarah uses as stepping stones.to get across. Together, Sarah, Hoggle, Ludo and Sir Didymus (on his sheep-dog mount, Ambrosius) move forward, entering an enchanted forest.
Worn out by exhaustion and hunger, Sarah is delighted when Hoggle offers her the peach Jareth ordered him to give to her. Sarah takes a bite, but the peach is poisoned and she falls unconscious. Sarah enters a dream-world where she dances with Jareth at a magnificent ball. As they dance, Sarah notices a clock in the corner of the room that indicates the thirteenth hour is drawing near. Remembering her brother, Sarah breaks away from the dance and flees, shattering the dream-world by smashing the edge of it with a chair. She falls, landing in a vast Junkyard where she is met by The Junk Lady, a withered old crone with a mound of possessions piled on her back. The Junk Lady takes Sarah to an exact copy of her room at home, and while Sarah is initially convinced she has returned home she eventually remembers she has to save Toby, and escapes from the room as it collapses around her.
Sarah finds Ludo and Sir Didymus, and together they approach the Goblin City. They are nearly blocked from entering the city by the giant robot Humongous, but Hoggle leaps onto Humongous from above and stops it before it can attack them. Once Humongous is stopped, Hoggle leaps down from it onto the ground and is reunited with Sarah, who tells Hoggle that she forgives him for giving her the peach.
With all of her friends alongside her, Sarah enters the city. They are quickly attacked by the Goblin Army, but Sarah and her friends manage to dodge all attempts to stop them and reach Jareth's Castle together. When they reach the Throne Room of the castle, Sarah realizes that Jareth must have hidden Toby elsewhere in the castle. Sarah tells her friends that she has to go forward alone, and leaves them to go further into the Castle by herself. Sarah finds herself in the Escher Room, a vast, disorientating chamber filled with gravity defying stairways. Jareth is in the room with her and Toby, but Sarah successfully avoids him and focuses entirely on finding Toby. Sarah finally reaches a high ledge, and finds that Toby is sitting above a pit a long way below her. Closing her eyes, Sarah leaps from the ledge to reach him.
Sarah lands gently on a platform that is suspended on mid-air, pieces of rubble floating around her. Jareth approaches her from a shadowed alcove, and desperately attempts to distract her, telling her that he did everything she asked of him and begging for her love, fear and obedience. Sarah rejects this, and recites the speech from the play Labyrinth she could not quite remember at the beginning of the film. Jareth holds out a crystal for her to take, but Sarah disregards it and tells Jareth that "You have no power over me." The words defeat Jareth, and Sarah finds herself back in the entrance hall of her house as a white barn owl flies from the window.
Sarah runs upstairs to check on Toby, and finds him sound asleep in his cot just as Robert and Irene return home. Sarah then gives Lancelot to Toby. Returning to her room, Sarah starts to pack away some of her childish possessions, when her friends speak to her from the mirror of her vanity. They tell her she can call upon them if she ever needs them, and Sarah tells them that she will always need them. With that, her friends suddenly appear in her room along with other creatures from the Labyrinth, and they all celebrate Sarah's victory.
Appearances in Other Media
The novelization provides a significant amount of additional information on Sarah, including her age and her family background. Sarah is shown to be highly opinionated and judgemental at the start of the novelization, and is especially critical of her step-mother. Sarah is prone to fantasizing, and dreams of having an exciting, glamorous life like her actress mother. Other than this, the characterization of Sarah is largely the same as that in the film.
Marvel Comic Book Adaptation
Sarah is generally portrayed in the same way as the film in this adaptation, however there are some small but note-worthy differences. Instead of fleeing when she notices a clock and remembers Toby as she does in the ballroom scene featured in the film, Sarah tears herself away from Jareth after he attempts to kiss her. She runs from him, crying out 'Oh where am I? Where am I?' At the end, instead of simply defeating Jareth as she does in the film by proclaiming 'You have no power over me' Sarah gives the moment extra emphasis by saying 'You have no power over me. None that I haven't given you'.
Sarah appears in the music video for the David Bowie song As The World Falls Down, which was featured on the film's soundtrack. In the video, Sarah appears both in clips from the film and in new scenes that feature an older actress, Charlotte Valandrey in the role.
As The World Falls Down
In the clip, Sarah is shown in an office next to a photocopier which is printing multiple images of Jareth's face. Sarah initially appears to be mesmerized by a copy of the photo that is pinned to the wall and approaches it, only to jerk her face away once she is close to it. A number of abstract set-pieces feature in the clip, one of which shows Sarah lying against a huge cast of Jareth's face. Sarah is next seen in a romanticized portrait which hangs on the wall of the room where Jareth (along with Hoggle) is performing the song. The portrait falls as Hoggle is adjusting it, and the crash prompts Jareth and Hoggle to look to the door as if hopeful someone is about to enter. No one is there, and Sarah is last seen back in the office seen at the start of the clip. She is leaning against a table, and elevates one of her feet, allowing one of her high-heeled shoe to fall to the ground.
Return to Labyrinth
In this manga sequel to the film, Sarah is a supporting character. She is introduced as living a subdued life as a teacher, and is shown to share a close relationship with her half-brother Toby, sympathizing with his difficult relationship with his mother. A stylized, younger version of Sarah appears frequently in flashbacks and in scenes that take place in Jareth's imagination. The sorceress Mizumi briefly takes Sarah's form to torment Jareth over his obsession with her, tempting Jareth with a Sarah who is compliant and acquiesces to his wishes.
At the climax of Volume II, Jareth appears at Sarah’s door in the real world. Their interactions at the start of Volume III indicate that Sarah has no memory of Jareth or her adventures in the Labyrinth, and he masquerades as an old theatre friend of hers in order to gain access to her home. This is soon revealed to be because Jareth ordered the sorceress Mizumi to form an ablation out of Sarah's dreams, which Sarah wished would be taken after she was rejected from Julliard School. The creation of the ablation, Moppet, resulted in the loss of all Sarah's memories of her time the Labyrinth.
Towards the end of Volume III Jareth invites Sarah to attend a performance at the Enigma Lain Theatre, an offer Sarah takes up in the fourth and final volume of the series. At the threatre Jareth confronts Sarah with a grotesque puppet show that caricatures her own life, the display triggering the return of her stolen memories. Jareth asks Sarah to help him create a new world from their shared dreams, and despite her initial reluctance Sarah accepts. When her transformation into a queen for Jareth is nearly complete, she learns that the Labyrinth is on the edge of destruction. Sarah refuses to let her loved ones suffer while she idles away her life in a dream world. Her will, which had been manipulated by Jareth, returns to her and she tells Jareth they need to leave their new world to save the Labyrinth. Jareth is initially upset, but ultimately concedes to her wishes and the Labyrinth is saved.
At the start of Labyrinth, Sarah is an immature and petulant teenager who resents her infant half-brother and her responsibilities as his sister. A pan of Sarah's room at the start of the film shows that she has a number of children's books on her shelves, including The Wizard Of Oz, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and Maurice Sendak's Outside Over There. The reading material shown in Sarah's room indicates that she has a love of fairy-tales and fantasy, a trait that is also suggested by the fact she is first seen rehearsing a play in pseudo-medieval costume.
Over the course of the film, Sarah matures and learns to accept her responsibilities. She becomes a kind and caring friend to her companions, and learns to appreciate the value of their friendship. While she displays little interest in the friends she meets in the Labyrinth beyond their ability to help her move forward in her quest, travelling alongside them teaches her what teamwork and friendship can accomplish. She also matures in her approach to the Labyrinth’s riddles, learning that she needs to reason them out rather than pointlessly claim that things aren’t “fair”.