Rewatching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freaking Willow! In D&D terms, this is where Madmartigan joins the party: 53:48-56:29 on the Blu-ray.
This whole scene is about trying to figure out what’s going on with Madmartigan, and just where he is at in his character arc. Continuing from the wagon chase, Willow scolds Matmartigan, saying “You never, never drive that fast with an infant.” Enraged, Madmartigan says, “I just saved that infant’s life!” He scares the horses with a “Hee-yaw.” The horses run off, taking the wagon with them. I assume this is so that pursuing NockMaar soldiers are likely to follow the tracks of the wagon and not their footprints. Remember that we left behind at least three NockMaar plus Sorsha back at the tavern.
Madmartigan grabs ahold of Willow’s cloak and pulls him and the baby to the side. The Brownies follow. Rool, still dizzy from the wagon chase, says, “Don’t worry about me, I’m fine.” Then he does a slapstick pratfall. Madmartigan says “Get down!” And he, Willow, and Franjean hide to the side of the road as those remaining NockMaar ride up. (See? I was right about them following the wagon.) There’s more slapstick as the horse’s hooves narrowly miss Rool as he bumbles about. Franjean says “Rool you fool, get out of the road.” This gives the special effects a hand in cluing in the audience as to who is where. The NockMaar soldier ride past, not seeing our heroes. There are six of them now. So that’s three left behind from the tavern, and three new ones.
Madmartigan says Willow had better “clear out” before more troops come back. Willow speaks to the baby, saying “We don’t need him.” The baby starts crying upon hearing this. A running gag throughout the movie is Elora Danon somehow (magically?) aware of what’s going on around her. The now-shirtless Madmartigan walks into an open grassy area, apparently no longer concerned with hiding. Willow pursues him, shouting “Madmartigan, wait!” Madmartigan off-handedly tells Willow to go home. “It’s a dangerous world,” he says. Willow answers by saying “That’s why we need your help.” Recalling the conversation when the met, Madmartigan says, “What do you need my help for? You’re a sorcerer.” He adds a flourish with his hand upon saying “sorcerer,” mocking Willow. Willow calls Madmartigan “a great warrior and a swordsman,” then he adds, “and you’re ten times bigger than I am, stupid!” This angers Madmartigan, as he turns and points at Willow, saying, “Do you want to make my life harder than it already is?”
Dogs are heard barking in the distance, no doubt the Death Dogs from earlier in the film, and our heroes duck and hide in the tall grass. We get a reminder that the Brownies are still with us, as Franjean says “Hurry, big dogs.” Willow calms down and says, “Look, I’m sorry I got angry. We wouldn’t have escaped without you.” Madmartigan takes note of the baby, who smiles at him. But then he puts on the tough guy act and says. “Don’t expect me to help you again.”
Madmartigan gets up and starts to walk away. Franjean says “Good!” He says they are traveling to the lake, which is “this way,” pointing to the right. Rool corrects him, pointing “that way,” right at camera, this close to breaking the fourth wall. Franjean says, “You are drunk, and when you are drunk, you forget that I am in charge.” Rool repeats, “You are in charge.” Rools asks Franjean which way they should go, and both the Brownies point toward the camera and in unison say, “That way!” This is consistent with earlier, where Franjean believes himself to the be the heroic leader, while Rool is the map/directions guy.
There’s a silent, dramatic pause as Madmartigan and Willow eye each other. Then Madmartigan reacts with a big “Oh, no! That’s the way I’m going.” He says Willow can follow him as far as the lake. He asks if they’re going any further south, but Willow says just as far as the lake. Madmartigan answers, “Good.”
So, where is Madmartigan going? Upon being freed from the crow cages and losing the baby to the Brownies, his next stop was the tavern, where we saw his dalliance with Llug’s wife. This speaks to his status as a deserter, seeking only to escape. Now, though, he says he’s going south. According to the map from The Willow Sourcebook, which is canon, to the south is the kingdom of Galladoorn. This is both Madmartigan’s home and where Airk and his army come from. I find it unlikely that Madmartigan has decided at this point to rejoin Airk’s army, despite his “I’ll win this war for you” line from earlier. I suspect Madmartigan has other unfinished business in Galladoorn that the audience is not privy to. Whatever it is, he’ll never get to it, eventually learning the greater good is important.
Madmartigan addressed the Brownies as “Mumbo” and “Jumbo” and he asks them to get him “some eggs or something” to eat. We’ve heard birds chirping in the background throughout this scene, so it’s within reason that there might be nests with eggs nearby. Franjean says “We are not afraid of you.” Madmartigan demands “Now!” and the Brownies run off, squealing in terror. The phrase “mumbo jumbo” is believed to have first appeared in the 1795 book Travels in the Interior of Africa, allegedly in reference to West African god Maamajomboo. The Wikipedia page for “mumbo jumbo” has a list of times it’s been referenced over the years, but Willow is not included.
Next: Time is NOT on your side.
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