After extensive research I finally found it.
I found the park where the opening scene of Labyrinth was filmed and now I’m going to tell you where it is… if you don’t want to know, stop reading right now! I do not want to be held responsible for ruining anyone’s childhood. 🙂
Alright then… if you’ve read my blog before you may have followed my search for the park in my previous posts.
Many, including myself have spent countless hours on Google maps trying to find the park by looking over every single pond in every single park in London, England and Upper Nyack, New York.
I continued searching the internet for months and visiting possible locations all over London until I finally found it… in a small town about an hour and a half outside London.
The opening scene of Labyrinth was shot in West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire, England, HP14 3AJ.
(No wonder nobody’s been able to find it using Google maps.)
West Wycombe park is on a private property but belongs to the National Trust so visiting the park is open to everyone during the summer months.
To make absolutely sure I had found the right park I decided to visit and see for myself…
This is what I found…
For reference here is a still from the movie…
I was amazed at how much it still looks like the scene from the movie!
Even 26 years later there have only been minor changes made to it. The small bridge has been lightly repaired, the larger bridge in the background now has decorative urns on it but other than that the changes could only be seen in the plant life.
I could not resist the urge to run over the bridge and re-enact the scene from the movie. I ran over the bridge and recited Sarah’s lines word for word, there was even a swan walking around which i used as a substitute for Merlin the dog. I listened for imaginary thunder, looked around for a chiming clock tower and then ran back over the bridge away from possible rain and towards my babysitting duties.
Having done all this in the exact same place as Jennifer Connelly did it 26 years ago is beyond surreal… I wasn’t just re-enacting the scene… I was re-enacting something that actually happened in that exact spot.
After having spent a few hours at the park I still didn’t want to leave. It felt as if I was in a fairy tale world and not a local tourist attraction. It wasn’t until it started to rain for real that I gave into my friend’s now insistent demands of leaving as we were getting soaked to the bone and even the swans on the lake were seeking shelter.
Now, I just hope you enjoy this little piece of information as much as I enjoyed uncovering the mystery and If you get a chance, do pay the park a visit!
It’s quite an experience.
Tourist information for West Wycombe Park.
If you’d like more info on the filming locations of the opening scenes of Labyrinth check the following blog. The founder has finally located the last two missing locations and has gathered all of them in one place, here: http://labyrinthlocations.blogspot.com/
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!
After I decided I would start cosplaying Sarah I made a deal with myself to try as hard as I possibly could to make the costume look as close to the original as possible. That however, poses two rather complex challenges… finding the right vest, which I’ll save for another time, and finding the right shirt.
The shirt Sarah wears in the movie has very big and “poofy” sleeves, something that is not in style today and hasn’t been for ages and ages (we’re talking centuries here), and it has a buttoned up front. Now at this point it was my first instinct to look for something piratey as pirates are a very popular cosplay at the moment, leaving the possibilities for “poofy” sleeved shirts wide open. But as I quickly found out, if I wanted something to be accurate enough fabric wise, I had to broaden my price range and look outside the fancy dress shops as every shirt in there was either too white due to the materials they were made off or had frills or lace details.
At this point I went back to the movie to gather as much details as I could. Since I was going to be spending money on this I was dead set on making it right.
So in addition to the poofy sleeves I noted the details on the shoulder part of the sleeves, plus the high collar and large cuffs and with that continued my research. That lead me to inspect poet shirts used for Renaissance cosplaying but while the sleeves could pass as “good enough” they most often had the wrong collar and cuff proportions and unless you want it tailor made, they do not come as button ups. That lead me into further research, now into the history of shirts and from the details I had from my references I could narrow my shirt needs down to the 18th century.
At this point I was starting to suspect that the shirt in the movie had been either tailor made or altered to look the way it did because frankly, shirts from the period are always very long and often have a curve at the bottom or splits at the sides, while Sarah’s shirt doesn’t reach down below her knees and has a straight cut at the bottom like most “modern” shirts.
It was then that I realized… I’d probably had to make this shirt from scratch… Dun dun dunn!
I started looking into patterns and found a few that were “passable” and was on the verge of getting my sewing machine out of storage when I realized I had one problem, I didn’t have any access to the correct fabric. While Sarah’s shirt might not be period accurate in the styling it most likely was fabric wise since by the way the shirt flows in the movie it’s probably made from linen or muslin.
A bit relieved, I scrapped my sewing intentions and went back on the hunt… this time for an 18th century linen shirt that I could then possibly just alter to look like the one in the movie. And after a while… I found one.
The shirt I found was almost perfect in every sense except for the fact it wasn’t a button up, but since I’d now been searching for weeks I felt the best plan would just be to buy it, alter it and see where that led me. There was one problem however, I wasn’t exactly sure on what size to get, the website that sold them stated that the shirts were very large so instead of ordering it online I took a three hour train ride out of town with the sole purpose of visiting the store and trying it on in person.
And boy am I glad I did!
I had been tempted to order a medium on the website put when I tried it on I found that an extra small was all that I needed. I paid for it happily and made my way home… ready to start the altering process.
The alteration took some time.
I’ll post some more photos when I’m done! 😀
I love how this song has a feeling of not being able to help yourself falling for temptation even though you know that it will ultimately bring trouble to your life…
… And Sarah sure seems to have a hard time with temptation.
I wanted to use “As The World Falls Down” for a performance I was doing but was only allowed to use a song that was around 3 minutes long. Since As The World Falls Down is almost 5 minutes in length I edited the original a bit to more resemble the version used in the movie.
Here is what I came up with along with the ballroom scene from the movie, slightly edited to make everything fit.
Internet has given little to nothing away in regards to where the location of the Labyrinth park is to be found.
As I state in my previous post on the subject when I went to Hampstead Heath, the imdb.com site lists it as one of it’s filming locations as well as Elstree studios, England, and Upper Nyack in the United States.
Based on Brian Froud’s comments on the Labyrinth commentary that can be found on the DVD and blu-ray releases, neither of the other imdb.com named locations hold the illusive park. In the commentary he notes the interesting scene edit when Sarah runs across the bridge in the park in England and then appears from a side street in the USA.
Even so, it has been suggested that the park is Memorial park on the river but that has also been proven incorrect.
Furthermore there have been endless discussions on the park in forums and comments all over the internet but no one seems to know exactly where it is, even after all this time.
So far, internet research has only lead to dead ends…
As I’ve mentioned before I really want to know where the opening scene of Labyrinth was filmed and now that I live in London I have the opportunity to look around and actually do some field research.
The imdb.com page for Labyrinth mentions one of it’s filming locations as Hampstead Heath which is a large park in the middle of London. Since Jim Henson had a house in Hampstead and Jennifer Connelly lived in a house there for the five months she spent in London filming Labyrinth I felt it was the most logical place to start my search.
While it has many ponds and plenty of large trees (the points of reference I was keeping an eye out for) I never felt it looked quite right so I decided to go there and see for myself if it looked anything like the park in the movie.
Keeping in mind that of course the park could have changed over the 25 years since the movie was filmed I took a still picture from the movie with me and headed out early in the morning. The heath is large and it took me and my friend all day to cover the places we most felt were possible filming locations. There are also smaller parks connected to the Heath like the Kenwood house and Estate and we made sure we covered those grounds as well, just in case.
Nothing seemed to look quite like the picture and after we’d finished looking at all the ponds and lakes we could find we concluded that the opening scene in Labyrinth was in fact, not shot in Hampstead Heath.
It was however a lovely park and I insisted on looking at “Sphagnum bog” which is on the Kenwood estate, imagine my disapoinment when it didn’t look anything like the bog of eternal stench. 😆
The search continues and I’ll of course post my updates here.
I finally did it! I now live in London!
When I started this blog I mentioned that it had been a dream for a long time to live in London and that I was determined to make it happen… and now I have.
I’m here for a little bit of studying in mind, with hopes of lots of adventures and so far my stay here has been like a dream. I’ve now seen Labyrinth on the big screen which I highly recommend and just a few nights ago I got to listen to Brian Froud talk about Labyrinth at the “Goblin King’s Court of Disorder” which is an annual masquerade ball here (well this was the 1st. annual but I hope they throw it every year, it was a blast!). I’m also finally working on a proper Sarah costume.
Now if things keep going like they’ve been going so far, all I can say is this… Follow your dreams!
During my stay here I want to try to visit Elstree studios where Labyrinth was shot and locate the park in the opening scene. I know it’s around here somewhere! 😀
I’ll of course put my progress on here as it happens.