Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

US movie (1988). MGM/Lucasfilm/Imagine Entertainment. Pr Nigel Wooll. Exec pr George Lucas. Dir Ron Howard. Spfx John Richardson. Screenplay Bob Dolman. Novelizations Willow * (1988) by Wayland Drew and Willow * (1988) by Joan D Vinge. Graphic novelization Marvel Comics Presents Willow, The Illustrated Version * (graph 1988) by Jo Duffy. Starring Warwick Davis (Willow), Patricia Hayes (Raziel), Val Kilmer (Madmartigan), Jean Marsh (Bavmorda), Gavan O'Herlihy (Airk), Julie Peters (Kiaya), Pat Roach (Kael), Joanne Whalley (Sorsha). 126 mins. Colour.

"It is a time of dread. Seers have foretold the birth of a child who will bring about the downfall of the powerful Queen Bavmorda. Seizing all pregnant women in the realm, the evil Queen vows to destroy the child when it is born." When a girl-child bearing "the mark" appears, Princess Sorsha informs her mother, who prepares to have the baby slain (echoes of the infant Christ); but the midwife has fled with her charge, and succeeds in setting it adrift on the river on a raft of reeds (like the infant Moses). The child is discovered by the family of farmer Willow, who dwells in a village of Dwarfs. Various derivative adventures occur before right is restored; e.g., the Queen of the Fairies resembles the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio (1940) and her attendants resemble Tinker Bell in Peter Pan (1953). The script is subservient to a plethora of action sequences and (often excellent) spfx, so what might have been a good piece of Sword and Sorcery comes across more as a high-pitched, eventually rather monotonous mishmash of event: W's climax lacks any emotional intensity because there have already been so many foreshocks. [JG]

further reading: The Willow Source Book * (1988) by Allan Varney.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.