Willow, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways

I’m rewatching a comfort movie from my childhood again, a huge favorite: Willow. Warning: POSSIBLE SPOILERS. Sure, the movie’s 22 years old, but I’m sure there are those who haven’t seen it yet.

There’s so much to love about this movie. So I thought I’d really count the ways, because I want to share, and enumerating them via Twitter just doesn’t work as well as a bulleted list.

  • Uses old fantasy tropes like farm-boy-goes-on-quest in new, interesting ways. This farm boy is not a hidden prince, but a father and husband who’s well-established in his life, and knows where he comes from.
  • Said father is a nurturing figure in the movie–he takes care of the baby competently the whole way through. Nice change from the big manly heroes who always save the day through brawn—though of course we get that in Madmartigan.
  • “Ignore the bird. Follow the river!”
  • The brownies are a great use of perspective, blue screen, and editing to make it seem like they’re actually tiny people (well, for 1988 technology). And who can’t love lines like “I stole da babyyyy!”
  • Madmartigan. Everything about him. His mysterious past, his roguish nature. His complete inability to possess tact.
  • “Temptiiiing… but, NO!”
  • “Gentlemen? Meet Lug!”
  • The diversity of characters in both the daichini (daikini?) and nelwyn people is refreshing in a genre that sometimes (not always, but too often) forgets that not all elves or dwarves are exactly the same.
  • Drunk brownies falling in love with kitties
  • Mouse hats
  • Chase scenes galore! Including one that plays on the old cartoon trope of rolling down a snow-covered hill (after a great sled chase scene!) and turning into a giant snowball.
  • The fact that until today when I looked it up on IMDB—i.e., for 22 years—I’ve thought that Madmartigan’s name was Mad Martigan, because everyone thought he was mad.
  • Blackroot. “Puts hair on your chest!”—just what a baby girl wants!
  • Okay, so the final fight scene with the two-headed monster is a bit odd. But Fin Raizel definitely makes up for it!
  • “Willll-loow! YOU IDIOT!”–Fin Raizel, as a goat
  • Fin Raizel as a sugar glider, or just about any animal, for that matter
  • A love potion gone wrong that helps a strong female character realize she’s fighting for the wrong team
  • Sorsha kicking Madmartigan in the face
  • The sets! Oh, the beautiful sets!
  • The costumes! Oh the beautiful costumes!
  • Except: What is UP with General Kael’s skull mask?
  • “It went away? ‘I dwell in darkness without you’ and it went away??”
  • I also just realized (how many times have I watched this movie? at least twice a year for many, many years) that the people at Tiras Lee were turned to stone or encased in crystal or something. It’s so quick and not terribly clear—all these years I thought they were just stones Madmartigan was waving at.
  • Madmartigan thinking he’s so scary when everyone runs at Tir Aislean, when it’s really a two-headed fire-breathing used-to-be-a-troll creature.
  • Why does the music (final fight scene) keep make me expect Sloth the come swinging in on a rope, yelling, “HEY YOU GUUUYS!”?
  • Oh yeah, this isn’t the final fight scene. We still have to face off with Bavmorda.
  • “You’re not warriors! You’re pigs! You’re allll pigs!
  • Oh, I’m sure I’ll remember more as the movie plays on.

What about you? Is Willow a favorite? What do you love about it? What other fantasy movies are your oft-returned-to favorites?

3 thoughts on “Willow, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways

  1. You got the “Tempting…” line, but the line immediately preceding it is a classic as well… “Wanna breed?” — the intonation is key. 😉

    And “I love you Sorsha? I don’t love her, she kicked me in the face!”

    “This way… to the lake!”

    I have many old(er) fantasy favorites (is Willow really 22 years old? ::crying::), but I have to say, of all the high fallootin’ CG-heavy-mega-block-busting-super-features coming out these days that just aren’t all that good (Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia come to mind)… my newest instant favorite was Stardust. I can’t get enough of that movie. Instant classic I say! I had to go read the book and it’s one of the rare instances where I really LOVED the changes they made in the movie… especially the ending.

  2. “‘I dwell in darkness without you’ and it went AWAY?”

    LOVE Willow! It’s hereby on my “must show to the kids” list. HOW did I make such an oversight?

  3. That’s a good point about the nurturing father figure — a very nice change from the same old, same old! I can’t believe it’s been 22 years either.

    We saw Stardust last weekend. There are some movies that my kids ask to see repeatedly, like The Princess Bride, and I think that will be one of them.

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