Watching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freakin’ Willow! This is the start of the battle of Tir Asleen, which I’ll be breaking up into several parts, because there’s a lot to go over, 1:24:27-1:27:19 on the Blu-ray.
This skips over a scripted-but-unfilmed scene that was included in the graphic novel, where Tir Asleen is surrounded by a wall of thorns created by Bavmorda. Raziel has Willow and Madmartigan chants magic words together, which creates a magic fire to burn down the thorns. This scene just doesn’t work. It’s out of character, in that Madmartigan shows no interest in doing magic anywhere else, and it ruins the reveal that Bavmorda has already been here.
Back to the movie itself, there’s something from an abrupt cut from the previous scene, there’s a shot of Madmartigan riding their horses through the countryside to a short but very big and bombastic piece of the score. They then approach Tir Asleen castle, with Fin Raziel helpfully announcing “Tir Asleen! At last, Tir Asleen!” While the tie-in books describe Tir Asleen as this vast kingdom with city-sized universities and libraries, but here the castle is standing alone, surrounded only by grass and trees. Remember we saw a similar setup with Bavmorda’s castle earlier. It appears that in the world of Willow, these castles that serve as seats of government and home to the monarchy also double as border forts, situated right on the kingdom’s borders. I suppose this would aid in both defense and with welcoming visiting diplomats.
Our heroes ride through the castle’s gate/portcullis which is conveniently left open for them. The music becomes ominous as the camera holds on Madmartigan, looking around in confusion. We then see the castle’s interior courtyard, all grey brick and mud, with no people in site. As Madmartigan calls out “Hello?” the camera pans over to the what looks like a person frozen in a block of ice. Throughout the scene, we’ll see more of these frozen people placed around this location.
Madmartigan says “Why did I listen to you, peck?” He then impersonates Willow sarcastically, saying, “It’ll be all right once we get to Tir Asleen.” Willow gets off his horse and examines another frozen person. Madmartigan says “The only army around here is the one that’s about to ride across this valley and wipe us out.” Also showing disappointment, Willow says, “But Cherlindrea said we’d be safe here.” Madmartigan points to another frozen person and says “Safe? Look at these people. This place is cursed, Peck. It’s falling apart. Open your eyes.” He then steps in some yellowish-brown stuff (fine, it’s poop) and deduces, “Trolls.” Willow looks around fearfully and says, “I hate trolls.”
“This is the work of Bavmorda,” Raziel says while perched on top of a frozen person. Okay, this one line explains a lot, so let’s get into the tie-in lore for specifics. Remember that this is where Bavmorda and Fin Raziel were raised. After Bavmorda successfully seduced the king, she froze him and the rest of the populace not in ice but in crystal quartz. It was after that that Bavmorda went north and recruited the NockMaar as her personal army. The lore states this happened years earlier, which begs the question of why our heroes didn’t know Tir Asleen had fallen. I suppose Galladoorn and Tir Asleen had little to no interaction, and Cherlindrea didn’t know because she is unable to leave her forest. Back to the scene, there are reaction shots from the baby, Madmartigan, and Willow, and then Raziel says, “Willow. The wand. Turn me back into my human form.” He answers, “Are you sure?”
Madmartigan opens a door somewhere else in the courtyard. He’s in a room full of weapons. He excitedly checks out two crossbows, throwing one over his shoulder and laughing. He picks up a sword and does that swing-it-around move we saw him do earlier, and says “good.” He then looks up and sees a suit of armor, lit dramatically from behind. This puts a big smile on his face. Why did Bavmorda’s forces just leave all these weapons here after taking down the kingdom? She have thought she didn’t need them, with her sights set on the NockMaar instead.
Outside, we get the movie’s next deleted scene, where Raziel points out one of the frozen people is the king of Tir Asleen, Sorsha’s father. The lore reveals his name is King Tanthalos IX. Raziel says, “Hurry, Willow. Transform me.” He says, “I can’t do it. I’m just not a sorcerer.” Raziel says, “But you can be. Speak and be one with the words.” Willow says the magic words, and the wand starts glowing blue. It appears as though Raziel’s feathers begin turning white, but it’s hard to tell. She hopes around and flutters her wings, saying, “Oh Willow, you’re losing me.” Willow hears the sound of horses and looks up to see the Nockmaar soldier approaching towards the open gate. He calls for Madmartigan and says Kael is coming.
We then hear Raziel’s voice, slightly different this time, say “Willow!” He looks over and discovers, she has been transformed from a bird into a goat. “You idiot,” she says. I guess this means her “You can be” line a minute ago was just her placating Willow, and she still has doubts as to whether he can truly help her.
Madmartigan comes out wearing the armor, along with a silly-looking helmet with a crest of long white hair atop it. He says to Willow “Arm that catapult up there.” He then rushes over to the door and pushes it shut, having to press against the wall behind him with his legs to do so. Note that this is a different gate/portcullis then the one the heroes rode through earlier, as it’s much larger. We can assume Madmartigan shut that one as well. It takes a lot of effort, but he gets both doors closed as the NockMaar ride at full gallop right out of it. They stop as Madmartigan bars the door shut. He takes a second to laugh at them through a small opening in the door. He turns around and sees Raziel, who says, “Good work, Madmartigan.” He stops with shock and says, “What the hell happened to you?” This usually gets a big laugh from viewers.
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