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20 May 1988
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Willow

Willow
Director : Ron Howard
Genre : Action,adventure,drama
Producer : George Lucas
Writer : Bob Dolman
Music Director : James Horner
Releasing On : 20 May 1988
Rating: 0 (0 Ratings)
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Willow is a 1988 American fantasy film directed by Ron Howard, produced and with a story by George Lucas, and starring Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh, and Billy Barty. Davis plays the eponymous lead character and hero: a reluctant farmer who plays a critical role in protecting a special baby from a tyrannical queen in a sword and sorcery setting.

Plot

Fearful of a prophecy stating that a girl child will be born to bring about her downfall, the evil Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) imprisons all the pregnant women of her realm in the formidable stronghold of Nockmaar. A child is born in the Nockmaar dungeons and identified as the prophesied child by a birthmark on her arm.

Production
Development

George Lucas conceived the idea for Willow (originally titled Munchkins) in 1972. Lucas' desire for Willow was similar to Star Wars, and created "a number of well-known mythological situations for a young audience".During the production of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in 1982, Lucas approached Warwick Davis, who was portraying Wicket the Ewok, about playing Willow Ufgood. Five years passed before he was actually cast in the role. Lucas "thought it would be great to use a little person in a lead role. A lot of my movies are about a little guy against the system, and this was just a more literal interpretation of that idea."

Filming

Principal photography began on April 2, 1987 and ended that following October. Interior footage took place at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England, while location shooting took place in Wales and New Zealand.Lucas initially visualized shooting Willow similar to Return of the Jedi, with studio scenes at Elstree and locations in Northern California, but the idea eventually faded. However, some exteriors were done around Skywalker Ranch and on location at Burney Falls, near Mount Shasta.

Reception
Commercial analysis

Willow was shown and promoted at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.The film was released on May 20, 1988 in 1,209 theaters, earning $8,300,169 in its opening weekend opening at #1. Making over $57 million at the North American box office,Willow was not the blockbuster hit insiders had anticipated.Lucas had hoped Willow would earn as much money as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, but the film faced early competition with Crocodile Dundee II, Big and Rambo III. However, the film was not a financial flop; with strong foreign, home video, and television sales, Willow did make a profit.

Critical analysis

Willow was released to mixed reviews from critics. Based on 29 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 48% of the critics enjoyed Willow with an average score of 5.6/10.

Janet Maslin from The New York Times praised Lucas' storytelling, but was critical of Ron Howard's direction. "Howard appears to have had his hands full in simply harnessing the special effects," Maslin said.

Desson Thomson, writing in The Washington Post, explained "Rob Reiner's similar fairytale adventure The Princess Bride (which Willow cinematographer Adrian Biddle also shot) managed to evoke volumes more without razzle-dazzle. It's a sad thing to be faulting Lucas, maker of the Star Wars trilogy and Raiders of the Lost Ark, for forgetting the tricks of entertainment."Mike Clark in USA Today wrote that "the rainstorm wrap-up, in which Good edges Evil is like Led Zeppelin Meets The Wild Bunch. Willow is probably too much for young children and possibly too much of the same for cynics. But any 6–13-year-old who sees this may be bitten by the "movie bug" for life."

Awards

At the Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Sound Editing and Visual Effects, but lost both to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which was similarly done by Industrial Light & Magic.The film won Best Costume Design at the Saturn Awards, where it was also nominated for Warwick Davis for Best Performance by a Younger Actor (lost to Fred Savage for Vice Versa) and Jean Marsh for Best Supporting Actress (lost to Sylvia Sidney for Beetlejuice). Willow also lost Best Fantasy Film and the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation to Roger Rabbit. Willow was also nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Screenplay, which lost to Cocktail and Worst Supporting Actor for Billy Barty, who lost to Dan Aykroyd for Caddyshack II.

Legacy

The film was released on DVD as a "special edition" in November 2001 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The release included an audio commentary by Warwick Davis and two "making of" featurettes. In the commentary, Davis confirms that there were a number of "lost scenes" previously rumored to have been deleted from the film including a battle in the valley, Willow battling a boy who transforms into a shark in a lake while retrieving Fin Raziel, and an extended sorceress duel at the climax.(Though removed from the theatrical version, the battle with the lake monster was retained for both Marvel Comics' adaptation and Wayland Drew's novelization of the film.) Willow made its Blu-ray debut on March 12, 2013, with an all-new transfer supervised by George Lucas.

Video games

Three video games based on the film were released. Mindscape published an action game in 1988 for Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and DOS.Capcom published two different games in 1989, a platform game for the arcades and a role-playing game for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

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20 May 1988
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