Rewatching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freakin’ Willow! A mind-control potion plus bad poetry equals LOVE, 1:09:47 to 1:13:44 on the Blu-ray.
We last left our heroes locked in a cage in the snowy NockMaar camp. It’s around this point that there are two scripted-but-not-filmed scenes that showed up in the novelization and graphic novel, but not the film. The first has General Kael, while not wearing his skull helmet, walking by our heroes’ cage and recognizing Madmartigan. Madmartigan lies and says he’s not Madmartigan, but is the man who killed Madmartigan. Kael says, “Good. He stole my woman,” and then walks off. The tie-in books and the wiki conveniently ignores this exchange, and who this woman might have been. I feel that this was wisely left out of the movie, as making these types of connections makes the world feel smaller rather than grand.
The second scripted-but-not-filmed scene has guards escorting Willow out of the cage and into Sorsha’s tent. She can’t stop the baby from crying and coughing, so she asks for his help. Willow fears the baby is sick, saying his son once died of a cough like that. Willow heats up a pot in her tent, filling it with steam, which helps the baby’s breathing. She asks about Madmartigan, and Willow tells her “he says he’s a great swordsman,” to which Sorsha laughs. The graphic novel adds a bit of business during this where Willow secretly uses the pot to also brew a potion to help Fin Raziel change form. The scene ends with Sorsha giving Willow a warning regarding Elora Danen, “Don’t let her die, peck. My mother needs her alive.”
Back to the movie itself, we continue on after Raziel’s bird transformation, Franjean says “You want out?” and Rool adds, “Easy. We can pick a lock.” The two of them use Franjean’s spear as a lockpick, but start arguing over the right way to do it. Rool says, “No, no, like this,” although I can see no indication of what “this” is. Franjean says, “It’s my spear. Frustrated, Madmartigan says, “Let me do it.” He grabs the spear from Franjean and gets to work on the lock.
As Madmartigan fiddles with the lock, he adds, “Out of the way, rodents.” This is apparently too much for Franjean, who gets really ticked off. He says, “Get your hand off that,” and then, even angrier, “Leave that alone you stupid fat Daikini.” As he says this, he takes out a small pouch on a string and starts swinging it around. The pouch smacks Madmartigan right in the noise with a glittery gold effect. He says “Ow!” and covers his face.
Rool laughs, and says this is the Dust of Broken Hearts, although this was clearly an ADR because it doesn’t match actor Kevin Pollack’s mouth. In fiction, we can assume he is projecting his voice through some sort of supernatural means, which the Brownies would have to do to be heard at the same “room volume” as everyone else. They get back to work on the lock while must glowing gold dust floats around Madmartigan’s face.
Madmartigan transitions from angry to wide-eyed and smiling. By working together, the two Brownies actually succeed in opening the lock. It’s always nice to see the goofy comic relief get a win. Franjean proclaims, “You are free!” Willow puts a hand on Madmartigan’s shoulder and says “Come on Madmartigan, let’s get Elora Danan out of here.” Madmartigan is still dazed, but says, “Yeah, it’ll be fun.”
There’s a shot of the NockMaar camp with the mountains in the distance. The mountains appear gold/yellow at their peaks, which I believe is the movie’s way of establishing that it’s dawn now. The score goes into “upbeat adventure” tone as Willow and Madmartigan sneak around the camp. Madmartigan follows Willow while still in a daze. Willow stops to ask Madmartigan if he’s all right, and Madmartigan sits in the snow, saying, “Yeah. I feel… good.” Rool again says, “the Dust of Broken Hearts,” in case the audience doesn’t get it. Franjean fiddles with the pouch, suggesting that it’s now empty.
Willow and Madmartigan do the steal game thing, sneaking from behind one tent to another. Willow peeks through a fold in the tent and says, “There’s Elora right there.” The Brownies chirp “Let me see” and “You always get to see” for a little humor, keeping the tone of this sequence light. Willow states that the baby is “on those furs.” We get a look inside the tent, and the baby is on furs in her basket. She’s just on the floor with a weird-looking chair next to her. The tent appears to have a solid floor, but it’s likely some sort of makeshift tarp placed over the snow.
Franjean, still believing himself to be the leader, says “Leave this to us.” Madmartigan ignores him and says to Willow, “Only one of us should go in there. I have experience in this sort of thing. I know what I’m doing.” He’s a little more lucid as he says this, giving the audience some hope that he’ll succeed in rescuing the baby with no ill effects from the Dust of Broken Hearts.
It’s almost dead silence as Madmartigan sneaks into the tent. Behind him, he passes a rack of swords, all in various shapes and sizes. Are we to assume that these are Sorsha’s personal collection? He slowly approaches the baby, and is about to pick her up. He glances to the side and sees Sorsha, asleep. Sorsha is lit in a romanticized Botticelli painting sort of way, with candles all around her bed. (Fire hazard!) Her battle armor is also right by the bed, so she can suit up for battle first thing in the morning. Madmartigan appears to ignore her at first, only to perk up and look at her a second time. He stands, wide-eyed and jaw opened, completely mesmerized by her. We get some reaction shot of the Brownies, who say “uh-oh” in unison, and Willow, who says “No” and points at the baby.
Madmartigan leans in close to Sorsha, about to kiss her Sleeping Beauty style, whispering “I love you” to her.” He then notices Willow at the tent entrance, frantically pointing at the baby. He stands, shakes his head as if coming to his senses. We think he’s going to rescue the baby, but then he turns back around and puts his hands over his heart all melodramatically. Willow and Brownies all do a comedic facepalm. As noted earlier, there aren’t any concrete rules as to how the Dust of Broken Hearts works. When it was used on Rool, he immediately fell in love with a cat, it being the first thing he saw. For Madmartigan, he’s in a kind of daze until he sees Sorsha, so the dust affects him so that he falls harder for someone he already has some amount of attraction to?
Then we go into one of the all-time great comedy tropes: bad poetry. Madmartigan says “Oh Sorsha, wake from this hateful sleep. It deprives me of your beauty. The beauty of your eyes.” Willow has had enough, and runs into the tent to save the baby himself. As Madmartigan leans in closer to Sorsha, she whips out a knife and aims it right at his groin, saying one of the movie’s most memorable lines, “One move, jackass, and you really will be a woman.”
She immediately stands up. It’s not clear at what point she actually woke, and then waited for Madmartigan to be in position for her to pull out the knife. Madmartigan falls to his knees, keeping the bad poetry going. “You are my sun, my moon, my starlit sky. Without you, I dwell in darkness. I love you.” Sorsha clearly has no idea what to make of this, but maintains the tough act, asking “What are you doing here?” The score goes from comedic to romantic as Madmartigan says, “Your power has enchanted me. I stand helpless against it. Come to me, now. Tonight, let me worship you in my arms.”
She holds the knife to his neck, conveniently throwing open the front of his shirt as she does so, creating a classic romance novel look. “Get away from me!” she says, only for him to tell her he loves her. She gives him a push and says “Stop saying that!” Then more poetry: “How can I stop the beating of my heart? It pounds like never before.” They move in close to each other, and now she starts playing along, saying “Out of fear,” only for him to answer, “Out of love.” She then says, “I can stop it. I can kill you.” He smiles and says, “Death, next to love, is a trivial thing.” He spots her hand on his chest holding him back, and he says, “Your touch is worth 100,000 deaths.” This is the line that seems to get to her, and they have an almost-kiss.
That “100,000 deaths” line is interesting, especially how Sorsha visibly reacts to it. We know that Sorsha has been raised to be an expert in warfare and she’s been commanding troops since a young age. Now here we have Madmartigan telling her that, in his eyes, she’s something more than death and killing. If we’re to assume that Sorsha’s eventual change of heart is because of more than Madmartigan’s hunkiness, then this line is the first step of Sorsha seeing herself in a new light.
Why is the kiss only an almost-kiss? Because Kael, without his helmet, bursts into the tent, carrying Willow under one arm. (Is actor Pat Roach actually carrying Warwick Davis around like this, or is it a stunt/special effect?) We hear the baby crying, and I believe we’re supposed to think that Willow has the baby in his arms. Sorsha looks down and sees the baby’s furs empty, realizing what’s up. She cries, “Deceiver!” and attacks Madmartigan. He does an odd move where he falls onto his back while simultaneously kicking the knife out of her hand. Is that really the best way to disarm an opponent? Kael says, “Stop him!” In the next shot, Madmartigan is back on his feet, and he now has a sword in his hand. We don’t see where he got it. I suppose we can assume it’s from that rack of swords seen earlier. Madmartigan strikes the spoke at the center of the tent, bringing the whole thing down, with the tent walls falling slowly, parachute-like. Then Madmarigan goes in for the kiss, Sorsha doesn’t fight him, seeming into it.
There’s an exterior shot of the tent collapsing, along with the sound of Kael going “Aargh!” in frustration. This also establishes that it’s fully daylight outside, which is where we’ll be going next time.
Next: All swordfights, all the time.
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