I remember when “Willow” was first announced. I was working at a movie theater, and in those pre-Internet days, there were posters that would arrive and be the first indication that a movie even existed. Sure, I read “Starlog” and “Fangoria” and whatever issues of “Variety” I could get my hands on, and I did my best to be as tuned in as possible to what was happening in movies, but it was a lot harder to come by early information. As a result, when we opened the poster tubes on day and pulled out a gorgeous but mysterious teaser poster that consisted of red-orange clouds and a simple title treatment for “Willow” with the tagline “Forget all you know… or think you know,” all we really had to go on was “From the creator of ‘Star Wars'” at the top and “From the director of ‘Cocoon'” at the bottom.
Almost immediately, the speculation began, and more than one person guessed that this was finally the new “Star Wars” film, a mere five years after the release of “Return Of The Jedi.” In those days, we still believed that Lucas was going to continue making the films in a fairly timely manner, and even once other publicity materials started showing up, it took me a while to really believe that “Willow” was its own thing.
In the years since its release, “Willow” has attracted a genuinely dedicated fanbase. I think the film suffers from a lot of half-baked ideas and some real execution issues, but I also think there’s an old school charm to it. In those days before computer effects really were ready to be used, “Willow” still felt hand-made. It was one of the last of the pure ILM VFX shows, and that certainly made a big impression on many viewers.
The first indication I had that “Willow” had really made an impression on my generation was when I met Warwick Davis on the set of the second Narnia movie. We had a long conversation about fandom and the way people have reacted to him over the years, and he talked about the “Willow” fans who really didn’t care that he was in “Star Wars,” who simply liked “Willow” as a stand-alone fantasy. I have to assume those are the same people who bought the various Chris Claremont/George Lucas “Willow”-inspired novels, and that those are the people who will be positively rabid when Fox releases “Willow” on Blu-ray next week.
I’m excited to revisit the film with my kids, who are starting to develop a taste for fantasy now. We watched “The Hobbit” together over the holidays, and we’ve started to play “Dungeons and Dragons” together, and the boys love the trappings of classic fantasy. They love the magic and the monsters and the sword fights and the whole world that is evoked, and when they realize that there’s a fantasy movie that George Lucas produced, I expect they’re going to lose their minds.
Today, we’ve got a clip of a deleted scene involving Warwick Davis as Willow, and I’m really pleased to be able to offer fans an exclusive debut of something from “Willow.” Considering the film came out in 1988, it’s nice to actually have something new to share, and I suspect that the bonus features on the Blu-ray are going to be a real treat for fans.
Anyway… enjoy the clip, and if you’re a “Willow” fan, I’d love to hear about your experiences seeing it originally. At 18, I think I was in a fairly cynical anti-blockbuster mood at the time, and because it wasn’t new “Star Wars,” I suspect the film never really stood a fair shot with me. If your experience was different, tell me about it.
“Willow” arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday, March 12.