George Lucas’s ‘Willow’ is now 25 years old and it’s at times like this, that you begin to realise your getting old.
When reflecting back on ‘Willow’, my first memory isn’t of the film, but of collecting the toys that were inside cereal boxes. Much like when ‘Ghostbusters II’ and latterly ‘The Phantom Menace’ were released, the world was consumed by ‘Willow’. Pizza boxes, crisp packets, drinks, lamp shades, buses, televisions, radio, newspapers, bed sheets, everything was covered in ‘Willow’.
A part of the movie experience was also collecting all of the memorabilia that was kicking around at the time. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I still own two used pizza boxes with Anakin Skywalker wearing a podracer helmet and limited edition Jar Jar Binks chocolate bar… Since Lucasfilm’s acquisition, head of Disney Bob Iger went on the record to say that they will not milk the ‘Star Wars’ franchise or over-expose it as it had been in the past. As sad as it is, we may never experience the euphoria generated by a film again.
‘Willow’ is a very special film that attempts remarkable technological feats. By today’s standards, the effects within the film are average and at times you feel that the limitations hinder the final product. The epic battles are mere skirmishes in comparison to the likes of ‘The Lord of The Rings’, people of small stature are used opposed to computer trickery and matte lines are clearly visible. It’s easy to forget that ‘Willow’ ventured into unknown territory by introducing computer animation in the form of morphing. ‘Willow’ should always be in high regard for it’s groundbreaking special effects alongside the likes of ‘Star Wars’, ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ and ‘Titanic’. All of the franchises have one thing in common, George Lucas.
In years to come, I hope people forget the association of ‘The Phantom Menace’ and ‘Attack of the Clones’ to George Lucas legacy. Without question, George Lucas has influenced cinema more than anyone to date. This extends much further than ‘Star Wars’ lunch boxes or Darth Vader toilet paper, as George Lucas has been at the forefront of the next development in film-making. He pioneered computer animation through his companies Pixar and Industrial Light and Magic, helped to develop surround sound through THX, was an avid proponent of digital and latterly was one of the few voices prior to James Cameron to suggest that 3D was the future. During his final years at the helm of Lucasfilm, George Lucas went on to explain that he firmly believed television was the future.
Let’s be frank, the world is going to shit. We are caught up in numerous hopeless wars, we have no money to buy food, unemployment is high, governments and banks are bankrupt. It’s gone down the shitter and cinema is reflecting the times much as it did during the 1970’s. It’s now time for a ‘Willow’ or Richard Donar style of ‘Superman’ to step forward allowing it’s audience to escape the shit-storm around them and to present heroes that we can all aspire to be . Until then, we can thank the likes of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Richard Donar, and Ron Howard for their films.
In my mind, ‘Willow’ is what ‘Warhammer Fantasy’ is to ‘Warhammer 40k’. It’s essentially a fantasy version of ‘Star Wars’ with Luke Skywalker replaced by a young wizard called ‘Willow’, Han Solo is in the form to Madmartigan, Princess Leia is replaced by Sorsha and so forth. The film makes no attempt to hide this fact and in all honesty I couldn’t give a flying fuck.
‘Willow’ during it’s finest moments is truly brilliant. It’s populated by captivating characters that rival any modern franchise. Van Kilmer steals every scene as the rouge Madmartigan, who has the finest attributes of Han Solo and Jack Sparrow.
There is something magical about ‘Willow’ It’s a film that allows you to transform back to a child and be transported to another world and on epic adventures. I defy anyone to not pretend they are Madmartigan as the ‘Willow’ theme blares away in your head. The effect lasts for days after watching the movie which is truly cinema magic.
Altogether now… Dum de dum… dum. Dum de dum… dum!
‘Willow’ is available on Blu-ray here: ‘Willow Blu-ray‘