As part of a unit on sculpture during the second trimester of the 2000-2001 school year, approximately fifty high school students embarked on a strange and wonderful journey--inspired by the movie Labyrinth--into the realm of monster-making. (Click here to see projects from 2000-2001.) During the winter of 2006, this unit was revised and updated with even more project choices.

As before, students watched the 1986 movie, which stars Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie. Directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas, and with a script written by Monty Python's Terry Jones, "Labyrinth" offers an incredible assortment of delightful creatures--most designed by Brian Froud. From the cute and cuddly to the downright ugly, this creative team of filmmakers brought a host of memorable characters to life.

Students had previously studied the work of M. C. Escher and were quick to notice Escher's "Relativity" poster in "Sarah's" room at the beginning of the movie. They were later fascinated to see that a whole scene in "Labyrinth" was built around Escher's image!

After watching the movie on DVD, students then watched the documentary, which shows how the movie was made. This was the most valuable part of their viewing experience from an art education standpoint, as the documentary offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at professional artists, sculptors, model makers, puppeteers and more!

In preliminary assignments (which included reading brief biographies of Jim Henson and Brian Froud and answering questions about their lives and work), students noted the various types of jobs associated with a major motion picture production. They then chose their movie industry "job" (project) from a list of possibilities.

Some students created a new character for the film and wrote about its role:

Some developed a new scene and did a painting of it:


Other students constructed a scale-model set based on an imaginary extra scene:

Was it crazy to have this many different types of projects going on at the same time? OH yeah! But it was also fun to have students planning and pretending and writing and painting and playing! We enjoyed our visit to the Labyrinth.




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