Love 2 Loves
Tagsearly elementary, tween
In 1988, thirteen years before Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, another Tolkienesque fantasy epic was filmed in New Zealand and unveiled state-of-the-art computer-generated imagery. It, too, followed a little person bearing a tiny but oh-so-important relic on a heroic journey that would decide the fate of humanity, and took much of its language and mythology from European history (Celtic in this case, not Germanic). But like the story of Moses, the relic in question was a baby, not a ring; the little person was an actual little person (iconic fantasy film actor Warwick Davis); and the whole thing wrapped up in just over two hours. That film was Willow, written and produced by George Lucas and directed by Ron Howard.
“Willow!” is what I answer emphatically whenever asked to name my favorite movie. I also scratch my head in surprise – maybe clutch my chest in genuine pain – if someone dismisses it as just another 80s cult classic. This is probably a telling symptom of “nostalgia blindness.” After all, if I hear James Horner’s majestic score, I’m transported to my childhood, swollen with love for Willow’s fatherly stubbornness, admiration for swashbuckling Madmartigan (Val Kilmer) and his comedic heroism, and embarrassment for the feelings ignited in me by red-headed warrior Sorsha (Joanne Whalley), “my sun, my moon, my starlit sky,” for whom falling in love means going mute. I studied juggling like Kilmer did to portray “the greatest swordsman that ever lived.” I carried pocketfuls of “magic” acorns that could turn you to stone, drew pictures of hairy trolls and two-headed dragons, and to this day quote bickering brownie bodyguards Franjean and Rool (Rick Overton and Kevin Pollack). All the transformations, including a chilling Circe impersonation by evil Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh), inspired my college research and writing on the subject. It’s clearly an understatement to say I’m biased.
But this movie endures on its own strengths, not those lent it by my impressionable imagination. If anything, it’s what kick-started my imagination to begin with, as it’s sure to do for your kids. And even if they’ve seen it already, Willow celebrates its 25th anniversary on March 12 with its first Blu-ray release, digitally remastered and loaded with special features that include deleted scenes and documentaries. While I miss the original promotional artwork by John Alvin, this box art is a vast improvement over the previous DVD release, and even brought Davis and Kilmer together for a reunion. What more can I say? Death Dogs! Fairy Dust of Broken Heart! Wizard duels! Gauntlet-swords! Bad guys named after film critics! Billy Barty! What are you waiting for? “The bones have spoken!”