Hidden Meanings #2: Carl Jung and Mind Control in Labyrinth (1986)

labyr4Carl Jung has said that dreams are a window to the subconscious, but they also reveal secrets, as Inception pointed out, and Labyrinth pointed out less obviously.  Carl Jung is a noted researcher and psychologist, who said that the most powerful symbol of the subconscious is the maze.  The maze.  The winding passageways and shadowy unknowns represent our memories and abilities.  Labyrinth is an 80’s classic, but it has everything going on Carl Jung is talking about and then some.

The story is about a young girl named Sarah, who is feeling depressed because of she’s basically a teenager and doesn’t like babysitting her brother.  She wants to live the free life for a while longer, so she’s basically rebelling against adulthood and its responsibilities.  Jareth arrives to grant her wish, and takes her baby brother away.  Rebuffing him, Jareth doesn’t go back on her impulsive wish, instead giving her only 13 hours to rescue her brother from the Labyrinth.  

13 may be used there on purpose, to devote the witch’s coven and to foreshadow bad luck.  She doesn’t get along in the “backwards” fantasy world, and she seems to go deeper and deeper through maze while adventuring through some strange obstacles.  Some people would have you believe that these obstacles are Sarah’s training as she enters the world of mind control.  Jareth represents her handler and teacher.

In this way, Labyrinth can be seen as something more than a simple fantasy or an exploration of Jung’s subconscious.  The movie uses many occult themes in its visuals.  The movie’s events may seem very random, but mind control enthusiasts would have you believe that they are each important tasks in Sarah’s mind control regimen.   


Sarah lies on her bed in one scene and one can see a famous image by Escher above her.  This image is of a staircase that goes nowhere.  It is an impossible image that cannot be logically reasoned out.  It is often used in mind control training.  There are other symbols of mind control throughout the movie, like obelisks and plants with eyes.  The All-Seeing eye is the most common symbol, which represents her monitoring while she undergoes her mind control training.


Look what I’m offering you. Your dreams. I ask for so little. Just let me rule you, and you can have everything that you want. Just fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave.

At the end, Sarah rejects Jareth’s “deal” and everything reverts back to normal.  However, it is not really a victory for Sarah, because her friends are all there with her at the end of the movie.  Her friends from the fantasy world.  How can they be in the real world?  This represents her acceptance of the mind control programming.  Jareth as an owl outside watches her at the window, keenly aware of what’s going on.  She’s now under his watch, as a mind control slave.  The owl also represents the all-knowing.  

There is a LOT of symbolism in Labyrinth.  They range in obviousness, but the symbols give the movie a deeper meaning.  To most people, Labyrinth is just a fantasy like Alice in Wonderland, but references to mind control are definitely there.  The work of Carl Jung and psychology in general are both a big influence on the movie.  The whole story is a symbolic regimen of mind control training, as Sarah is led along to exactly where Jareth wants her to be.  The convergence of her fantasy and the real world makes her programming complete.  Sarah says, “I don’t know why, but every now and again in my life – for no reason at all — I need you.”  In the same way, her programming can also be used “every now and again”.