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Tuesday May 28th 2024

Labyrinth | 1986

Labyrinth filming location: West Wycombe Park, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
Labyrinth location: the park where Sarah rehearses her lines: West Wycombe Park, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Jim Henson’s imaginative (largely) pre-CGI fantasy is further enlivened by Pythonesque touches from Terry Jones.

Most of the film was shot on sets at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, in the UK but the setting is oddly TransAtlantic. The picturesque park in the opening scene as Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) rehearses her lines is a UK screen favourite.

It’s the grounds of West Wycombe House, West Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire. The house and its grounds provided the ‘Russian’ estate of Mme von Meck in The Music Lovers, Ken Russell’s brilliantly delirious biopic of composer Tchaikovsky, and is also the country estate in Oliver Parker’s opened-out version of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance Of Being Earnest.

It also becomes the ‘Irish’ estate of the swaggering movie director (based on John Huston) in Clint Eastwood’s White Hunter, Black Heart and its landscaped grounds feature in 2008 period drama The Duchess, with Keira Knightley.

West Wycombe was home to the Dashwood family, and Sir Francis Dashwood who in the 18th Century established the notorious Hellfire Club – debauched fun for the upper classes – though not nearly as depraved as its lurid reputation.

Yet the film's setting seems to be the USA. When Sarah rushes home in the rain, her short journey is suddenly made up of a patchwork of locations in New York State.

One minute she’s hurrying past the Village Hall on North Broadway Street at Castle Heights Avenue in Upper Nyack, on the west bank of the Hudson River.

She continues on, along Piermont Avenue, in Piermont, about four miles to the south, before disappearing into a small alleyway between houses on Hudson Avenue in Haverstraw, a few miles north of Nyack.

Piermont, by the way, is no stranger to the screen – it was the little town in Woody Allen’s brilliant 1985 fantasy The Purple Rose Of Cairo.