Happy endings. Puffy sleeves, ruffled collars, sparkling detail on costumes… This is the stuff of fairy tales. So how is any of this ’80s-specific? If the fairy tale was made in the ’80s, the sleeves were puffier, the collars frillier and everything was, well–sparklier!
During his televised At the Movies (Siskel & Ebert) review of Ridley Scott’s 1985 film Legend, Gene Siskel claimed, “This genre has been beaten to death.” And while in many ways he was right, in hindsight, the 1980s-made fairy tale brought some new elements to the table.For one thing, the added “sparkle” of this decade’s films gave fairy tales of this time an edgy quality. While most were not set in the ’80s, they couldn’t help but incorporate elements of punk, goth and new romanticism (think Spandau Ballet). Add Muppet puppetry and synth-heavy soundtracks from groups like Tangerine Dream and you have, in our humble opinion, pure magic!
Let’s start with the royalty. The ’80s-depicted kings, queens, princes and princesses had a true advantage of the follicular nature. Yes, we’re talking hair, people.
Few heads of hair rival that of David Bowie in Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, the story of a teenage girl (Jennifer Connelly) who inadvertently wishes her baby brother away to the goblin king Jareth (Bowie) and must navigate his labyrinth to save her sibling:
Add the volumed hair and dress of the beautiful Jennifer Connelly, plus some pearl garlands draped from chandeliers, and you have a decadent feast for the eyes. In the attire department, it’s hard to compete with these two:
The Dark Crystal
So while it would be difficult to follow the shiny, pouffy, bejeweled costumes of Bowie and Connelly with anything short of amazing, we thought a clothing collection created by the designers behind the creatures and costumes of ’80s fantasty film The Dark Crystal would be a good place to start! So grab your pan flute and be sure to check out the crazy needle-like earrings that complement the mauve ruffled evening gown ensemble near the end of the clip:
And we can’t forget the lush visuals that fairy tale and fantasy films of this time offered. With directors like Ridley Scott at the helm, films had a dense, rich look that combined the best in ’80s special effects with a certain decadence that mirrored the culturally decadent choices of the era. Here’s a still from Legend (even the air was packed with blossoms):
Yes, there was a certain magic that the fairy tale and fantasy films of the ’80s possessed, and it was more than just the added whimsy of childhood nostalgia. As spring approaches, we thought it would be great to revel in the magic, even if just for a bit!