|Created by||Jim Henson|
|Portrayed by||David Bowie|
Jareth, the Goblin King is a fictional character and the main antagonist of the 1986 fantasy movie Labyrinth. Jareth (David Bowie) is a powerful, mysterious creature who has an antagonistic yet strangely flirtatious relationship with Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), the film's protagonist. He also appears in the film's adaptations, including the Marvel comic books, story book, graphic novel, novelization, coloring books, and photo album.
Jareth is the Goblin King of The Labyrinth, a vast kingdom within another realm. Though the monarch of the goblins, Jareth actually is not a goblin himself, and he appears human, and quite handsome by most human standards, though he could also be a fey. In the first draft of the script, however, he turned into a goblin when Sarah rejected him, thus suggesting that he was a goblin to begin with. His powers include the ability to form crystal orbs in his hands, which can create illusions of all types or to view things from a distance. Jareth uses his magical crystals to show dreams and offers the crystals to Sarah as a symbol of dreams. Another inspiration for the idea of Jareth's magical crystals is Hand with Reflecting Sphere by M.C. Escher, i. e. the inspiration for the mirror properties of the crystals and their power to show reflections of dreams.
Jareth is also a master of disguise. He can transform into a barn owl. In the movie he disguised himself as a blind beggar once, and in the Return to Labyrinth manga as a thespian[disambiguation needed], Jareth Quinn. In Return to Labyrinth, he also slicks his hair back and wears spectacles while wearing a suit as Toby's guidance counselor.
Jareth resents his position as Goblin King and yearns for a different life, probably somewhere down in Soho according to rock legend David Bowie, who first portrayed Jareth in 1986. He has a great deal of angst that only grows when he falls in love with Labyrinth protagonist, Sarah, as revealed through David Bowie's songs from the film and the Return to Labyrinth manga.
According to the music video for Underground and Return to Labyrinth and hinted at in the Labyrinth novelization, Jareth has a human alter ego (in Return to Labyrinth he uses the alias Jareth Quinn). In the novelization of Labyrinth Jeremy (who resembles Jareth) is an actor with whom Sarah's biological mother, an actress, had run off years earlier, after they had starred in a show together. Jeremy is also the man who gave Sarah her music box, which in the book plays "Greensleeves", and in the movie plays "As the World Falls Down", the same song that Jareth uses to show his affection for Sarah while within his Labyrinth.
In the novelization and according to the song "Within You" part of what Jareth wants from Sarah is for her to believe in him. Though Sarah renounces the power Jareth holds over her it does appear she actually gives him what he wants. The line "I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave," embodies what Jareth feels for young Sarah Williams.
Jareth in music videos
Besides the film, David Bowie portrays Jareth in two music videos. One for the song "Underground" and one for the song "As the World Falls Down". The Labyrinth music videos are available on the VHS tape "The Bowie Video Collection" and the two-disc DVD set, "The Best of Bowie."
In the "Underground" music video, David Bowie seems to borrow the character of Jeremy from the Labyrinth novelization, the lover of Sarah's estranged biological mother, and merged him as a sort of alter ego for Jareth, who seems to be struggling with a desire for a human life and his love of the magic and authority he has as Goblin King. In the video, we see Jeremy performing in a literal hole in the wall style nightclub. As he walks along after the performance, he finds himself seeing various strange creatures out of the corner of his eye, beings that lure him to the magical realm of the underground where he is their king.
- As the World Falls Down
In this music video, Jareth has a more subdued form and his castle has the seeming look of an office though the double doors of a castle and the fact that Hoggle, the dwarf, is doing the cleaning tend to reveal that this is no typical place of business. Jareth pines for Sarah, and an older version of Sarah pines for Jareth and her adventure within the Labyrinth but neither one seems quite willing to go to the other.
Jareth in Return to Labyrinth
Little is known about Jareth's personal life or history. As revealed in Volume 2 of the manga, Jareth at one point or another had a long, romantic relationship with Mizumi, the Queen of Moraine. However, the relationship failed when Jareth revealed he found Mizumi too shallow and boring to love, even though Mizumi loved him completely. He did give her a chance to find his heart, which was hidden somewhere in the Labyrinth. Mizumi failed after many years of searching, and still pines for Jareth.
According to the Return to Labyrinth manga, Jareth has ruled the Labyrinth for 1,300 years. In the manga Mizumi calls him a sorcerer. He does not appear to age between the film and the events of Return to Labyrinth, which happen many years later.
In the manga, Jareth establishes Sarah's then-teenaged brother Toby as his heir, leaving him in charge of the Labyrinth during a rather delicate time. The story also expands on Jareth's obsession with Sarah, embellishing on his twisted desire for both her love, and revenge upon her. In one section of book two of Return to Labyrinth, it could be interpreted as Jareth intending on Sarah to become his queen (an idea that was also included in the original first draft of the screenplay).
NECA released two Jareth action figures: a 12 inch one, dressed in black (it can talk, speaking lines from the movie), and a 7 inch one, which comes with a figure of Hoggle the dwarf.
- A.C.H. Smith: The Labyrinth: A novel. Henry Holt & Co, 1986. ISBN 978-0-03-007322-9