Rewatching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freaking Willow! I know you’ve been waiting for this one: Madmartigan finally joints the party, 26:25-30:34 on the Blu-ray.
Our heroes have arrived at the Daikini crossroads, a muddy wasteland-looking area, situated around a rickety wooden structure with two large cages hanging from it. Willow and Meegosh look around, as the camera pans across a skeleton in one of the cages. There’s a fade to show time passing, with a shot of the Nelwyn setting up camp under a dark grey sky. A strange howling is heard in the distance, and everyone reacts with fear. Vohnkar is all business, of course, ordering the others to get their spears.
The tie-in books describe the Daikini crossroads as a once-inmportant locale, a center of trade and commerce this continent’s four kingdoms. It once had a grand marketplace and a meeting hall for diplomatic negotiations. All that changed once Bavmorda took control of the kingdom of NockMaar, however. Bavmorda’s troops cut off all the trading routes in hopes of weakening the three kingdoms, to where all that’s left of the crossroads is a small village nearby. The villagers sentence their criminals to death by dehydration/starvation in these cages. As for that howling noise, the source of it is never identified. We can see how windy is was when they filmed this, so maybe the sound was just a trick of the wind.
The howling is heard again, and Willow backs up against one of the cages. It’s a big jump scare when a hand reaches down from inside the cage and grabs him. They won’t reveal this character’s name for a little while, but come on, we all know it’s Madmartigan. “Give me some water, peck,” he says, “or you die.” Get used to this word “peck” being used in an offensive, insulting manner throughout the film. He demands water a second time, and drops Willow. Willow falls back with the other Nelwyn, and nobody brings the water. This just makes Madmartigan angrier, saying “Bring me some water, you measly little pecks.”
While the others look concerned, Burglekutt leans forward and says, “This Daikini. We’re in luck.” Willow insists that they can’t give the baby to this stranger. “Somebody put him there for a reason,” Meegosh says. Burglekutt counters with, “Those soldiers are after us.” Meegosh then points out that Madmartigan is watching them.
Madmartigan’s attitude has changed, as he now smiles at the group. Vohnkar says they have to give the baby to somebody, and Madmartigan says, “I’m somebody.” He offers to take care of the baby if they let him out of there. He makes kissing noises at the baby, and there’s a terrific reaction shot of the baby with an “I’m not so sure about this” look on her face.
Burglekutt says he trusts this stranger “completely.” Willow says “But he tried to strangle me,” and then Burglekutt shows his true colors by saying “I want to go home.” Willow says they should wait. Burglekutt chides Willow for challenging his authority, but Willow says he will as far as the baby’s concerned. Madmartigan is quite to read the situation, saying “don’t listen to him, Burglekutt.” Burglekutt tells Willow he can stay there alone, but the rest of the group are leaving. Madmartigan encourages Burglekutt to stay.
Burglekutt tells the others to get their gear. Willow pleads for Vohnkar to stay, but Burglekutt says the decision is his, not Vohnkar’s. Fed up, Willow says “Burglekutt, you’re troll dung.” Madmartigan says, “Don’t let him talk to you that way, Burglekutt!” Burglekutt calls Willow a “runt” and says while they’re wasting time there, Willow’s fields aren’t getting planted. This is some nice continuity, as the movie began with planting and a planting festival.
Willow and Burglekutt have a standoff. Willow says “Burglekutt, I’m going to…” but he doesn’t finish the thought. Burglekutt mockingly says, “You’re going to what?” and then laughs in Willow’s face. Willow tries to get in the last word with “Someday, Burglekutt, someday,” but it’s no use. Burglekutt already has his back to Willow, saying to Vonhkar, “Let’s go.”
Vohnkar, who’s been mostly silent during all this, now says, “Meegosh, you coming?” Meegosh says he’s staying, and Burglekutt laughs at him as well. As Burglekutt and the others leave, Madmartigan pleads with them to let him out of the cage. He asks Vohnkar to borrow his spear, presumably for lockpicking. This foreshadows him picking a lock later in the movie. His feigned friendliness turns back into anger as he says, “Well, at least give me some water! Burglekutt, don’t leave me alone with these two!” He then sits back down in the cage, frustrated.
Meegosh asks what they should do now, but before Willow can answer, Madmartigan says, “Well, that was really stupid, peck.” Willow says not to call him that, and Madmartigan mockingly says “I’m sorry, peck.” He then repeats “peck” a bunch of times in a children-in-the-schoolyard way. Note that there’s a now a sunny blue sky behind Madmartigan, when it was overcast at the beginning of the scene. This could be to help the audience see him now as more of a humorous character rather than a threat, or maybe stuff like this comes with the territory when filming on location.
Willow then pulls out one of the magic acorns the High Aldwin gave him. He says he’s a powerful sorcerer and threatens to throw it at Madmartigan and turn him to stone. Madmartigan pretends to be scared, crying “No, don’t! There’s a peck here with an acorn pointed at me.” Willow puts the acorn away, saying he wouldn’t want to waste it. Madmartigan laughs at him again. Again, the acorns are a ticking clock throughout the movie, as the audience is unsure what will happen if/when Willow actually uses them. Willow and Meegosh return to their campfire as Madmartigan chants “peck” at them over and over.
In the Willow graphic novel, there’s an odd addition to this scene, in which a horse drawn cart goes by with some men on it. The men throw some lit torches at Madmartigan, burning his feet. They then ride off again. Madmartigan says to Willow, “Why not give them the baby? They eat babies!” I suspect these strangers are meant to be the caveman-like Poha referenced in the other tie-in books, but there’s no way to know for sure.
Time passes. We cut to night, where Willow and Meegosh sit around the campfire while the baby sleeps, as Madmartigan silently watches. Time passes again, and it’s morning.
Next: Here come the troops.
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