Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Night Magical Movie: Willow

My friend Willow recommended that I do this one quite some time ago, and I was feeling kind of "Willow" this weekend, so here it is!

This 1988 movie written by George Lucas and Bob Dolman and directed by Ron Howard is a classic magical movie with all the elements of an action-adventure fairy tale.  He has created a very real feeling world, wonderful characters, and one of my favorite things about this movie is that there's lots of magic, the good, the bad and yes, even of the ugly variety.  My kids used to love to settle down with a big bowl of popcorn and watch this expertly woven tale.  This film has become such a favorite that it's hard to believe it didn't do well at the box office, but has lived on as a cult classic film for lovers of fantasy and magic.

Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) comes from a small village of small people called the Nelwyns, they live a simple life farming and raising their families.  Willow is more than just a farmer though, he has also been studying magic, and longs to become the apprentice to the village magician High Aldwin played delightfully by Billy Barty.  Aldwin respects Willows potential but questions his lack of belief in himself.  When Willows children find a Daikini (large people) baby in a basket in the river they bring the infant home.  When the village is attacked by large dog like creatures who are apparently looking for the Daikini child, it's decided that Willow and a company of fellow Nelwyns must get the baby out of town, to the Daikini crossroads and give her to her own kind to care for.

Unknown to them, she is a very special baby, destined to overthrow the evil Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) who rules the land with an iron fist.  The band of travelers ends up abandoning Willow on their journey leaving only Willow and his friend Meegosh to get the baby to the crossroads.  They find only passing warriors there who don't want the baby.  The only one who agrees to help is Madmartigan (Val Kilmer) who is locked up in a crow cage and seems like a questionable character at best. 

He manages to charm Willow into releasing him so he can care for the baby, only to learn shortly after the baby has been stolen by brownies.  The two  Nelwyns follow the stolen baby and are brought to a magical grove where they learn from the fairy queen of the forest Cherlindrea that the baby's name is Elora Danan (Ruth and Kate Greenfield) and they are told of her destiny to destroy Bavmorda and become the future Empress of Tir Asleen.

They are also told that Willow has been chosen by Elora as her protector, so their destinies are intertwined.  Meegosh returns home and willow teams up with Madmartigan to give Cherlindrea wand to the exiled sorceress Fin Raziel (Patricia Hayes) so that she can use her powers to overcome Queen Bavmorda.  Turns out they are old enemies.

The two brownies become part of their alliance and they all make their way to the castle at Tir Asleen. 

Raziel continues Willows magic training, and Madmartigan develops a love-hate relationship with Bavmordas daughter the red headed and brutal Sorsha, played by Joanne Whalley, later Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, they met on this set.  They weren't the only ones to fall in love on the set of this film, young Warwick Davis met his future wife while making Willow too, she was one of the extras!

The hero's face trolls, trolls gone horribly wrong, transfiguration, captivity, love spells, winter sports on a shield, flaming arrows and gigantic armoured bad guys.  This story takes its inspiration from classical heroic literary concepts, the reluctant hero, the sage and apprentice, the magical gift, the messianic figure, the rogue hero and the battle between good and evil.

I've always loved Cherlindreas wand, apparently just a twisty branch or root, but full of great power.  This is a fun movie, and also has beautiful and inspiring scenery, costumes and special effects.  It's also a movie that makes you feel great and reminds us yet again, that its not your size (literally or figuratively) that matters, but your belief in yourself and your ability to find bravery in your won hear that really counts.

There is apparently are books that continue this story although none were ever made into movies called Chronicals of the Shadow War by George Lucas and Chris Claremont.  I found this while looking at the forums on IMDB, one of the girls who played Elora, Kate Greenfield actually popped onto a forum and mentioned it.

Magical Movie Featured Item:

Ogham Shield wall sconce, fiery readhead warrior chick!  Available in the Voice of the Trees Etsy shop

Sorsha is one of the coolest characters in Willow, who doesn't love a fiery redheaded warrior woman?
This is the cover art from Voice of the Trees, did I find some inspiration from the fiery Sorsha when I did this piece?  As many times as I've watched Willow, who knows, perhaps I did!



  1. That's funny, we just re-watched this movie a few days ago! it's a favorite at our house too.

  2. Me too! This was always one of my faves! I want to read the books now. :o)

  3. I didn't know there were books, totally need to get those. Did you know that Willow is on DVD now? I've been wanting to get the dvd b/c I never see it show on tv any more. I grew up watching this movie (I was 7 when it came out) with my dad, its one of our 'bonding' movies lol

    1. Yes, I have it on DVD, but I didn't know about the books until I was looking at IMDB online today. Totally Jazzed about it, Dan and I both would have loved to have seen a sequal, but the books are the next best thing!

  4. did the brownies ever say "you can do it" i thought that this was said in this movie prior to water boy.


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