by Sherveen Ashtari
I’ve never been much of a movie person. I’ve unfortunately never been able to tame my restlessness, sit still and sail through an entire movie without fidgeting and finding excuses to get up and do something else. In fact, if I was asked to count the movies I’ve actually sat through so far in life and watched to their entirety, I am certain I can count them on one hand and three fingers.
A few of them were foreign movies, and the rest were childhood favorites I simply had to re-watch when I was an adult. It’s kind of like rereading an old book and seeing, if several years later, the same content moves, fascinates and disturbs you as much as it did the first time around, more an act of curiosity than anything.
One of these all time special movies is Labyrinth, Jim Henson’s 1986 fantasy film about a magical maze with fantastical creatures and an evil Goblin King in the gorgeous form of David Bowie.
I was rather young at the time, so I can’t claim that I was glued to the TV screen because I was mesmerized by Bowie’s striking looks, performance or voice. (I however can shamelessly admit to that now). Then, I watched that movie because I really loved it.
An escapist at heart, that movie offered me a door into a dream-like adventure, and I was transferred into this world of odd-looking colorful squeaky dancing creatures that fascinated and terrified me at the same time. That ballroom dance scene with Bowie and the beautiful Sarah Connelly still takes my breath away, and the images of those impish Goblins stayed with me for a long time.
Several years ago, while randomly browsing books in a bookstore, my eyes fell on the cover of one that immediately reminded me of Labyrinth. Something about those sinister eyes, especially those of that little cheeky snaggle-toothed fellow to the right:
Brian Froud : Queen of the Bad Fairies
The book was called Good Fairies, Bad Fairies and it was by an English artist called Brian Froud. After flipping through a few pages of evil creatures with mischievous grins and good, ethereal and sparkly ones, I was immediately hooked. The illustrations were absolutely stunning, so stunning that a couple of days later I ended up returning to the same store and buying two more books by Froud.
My mind had made that connection with Labyrinth because Brian Froud was actually the artist responsible for creating the magical world of the Labyrinth. Froud’s fairy designs were also the inspiration for the creatures in the 1982 dark fantasy puppetry movie, The Dark Crystal. The movie Power of the Dark Crystal will be released in 2011 and the designs are also Froud’s.
Brian Froud is the creator of many wonderful illustration books, such as Fairies and Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book, two of his most famous works, in addition to a long list of equally brilliant illustrations such as Heart of Faerie Oracle, Goblins of the Labyrinth I, The Goblin Companion: A Field Guide to Goblins, The Dreaming Place, The Faeries’ Oracle, The Runes of Elfland and Goblins.
His wife Wendy is an inspirational fantasy artist too and just by following their art, I’ve been introduced to a long list of breath-taking things: fairy poetry, art, folk music and even fairy festivals!