Watching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freakin’ Willow! The battle of Tir Asleen concludes with an exploding dragon head and some romance, 1:32:44 to 1:35:15 on the Blu-ray.
In some impressive combining of a live person and a stop motion effect, Madmartigan lands on the back of the Eborsisk, riding it bucking bronco-style. Willow watches from the bridge. In subsequent shots, the actor/stuntman is replaced with a stop-motion Madmartigan. That door that Willow has been trying to get into this whole time finally opens from the other side, with NockMaar soldiers behind it. One of the them spots the baby and says, “the baby!” Willow runs at them with the sword Madmartigan gave him, forcing both men into the door, and then down some stairs, in what could only be the lower floor of this building. General Kael rides his horse right in through the door, and we see Willow on the floor with the two men, apparently having fallen down the stairs as well. Even though he’s encountered Kael a few times by now, Willow’s eyes widen upon seeing him.
Back outside there are several quick shots of the NockMaar firing arrows at the Eborsisk, with Madmartigan still flailing about on the back of one of its two heads. Then another shot of Sorsha looking at Madmartigan with wonder instead of fierceness. We see Madmartigan stab his sword in the back of the Eborsisk’s head, only for the blade to go through the head and out through under its chin. It seems as though the monster’s head is too big for this, but maybe baby Elora Danan is helping things along with magic. Madmartigan jumps off the Eborsisk and hits the ground with a roll. He looks up at it. Sorsha walks up to him, holding her cool serrated sword. They stare at each other for a second. Then she grabs the leather strap on the front of his armor, pulls him up to his feet (she’s strong!) and they kiss. The music swells, and they look into each other’s eyes following the kiss. Then they’re distracted by the Eborsisk thrashing about.
What happens next happens awfully quick. The bulge under Eborsisk’s chin swells, and as soon we register this, it’s head explodes. Fire and gore fill the entire screen. The camera pulls back to reveal one head is now a gooey stump, while the other head roars in pain. Both heads fall, landing right in front of a Nockmaar on horseback. Clearly what has happened is that the sword blocked the fire building up inside the NockMaar, so the pressure built up until it burst. What’s interesting here is that the action doesn’t stop to explain all this. The filmmakers trust that the audience will figure it out on our own. There’s another wide shot of the entire courtyard, showing the Eborsisk is now defeated. Because this is an over-the-top battle scene, they go ahead and add a man on fire running through the scene.
Then there’s a short scene in which a NockMaar on foot says to two on horseback, “Airk’s army! Get Kael!” No clue who these characters are, but clearly they represent some form of leadership, perhaps right under Kael and Sorsha. Then there’s a shot to outside the castle of the Galladoorn army charging ahead on horseback. This shot is7 framed on either side by parts of the structure, as if we’re looking through a window. In the next shot, there is Airk, leading the charge in gold and brown army, with his crew riding behind him in matching brown leather uniforms and red flags. The movie doesn’t really say what led to Airk’s change of heart, or how he was able to rally the troops like this, but I believe we’re meant to think that Airk’s previous encounter with Madmartigan changed his mind about riding to Tir Asleen. Then we see the Brownies, Franjean and Rool, inside a pouch on one of the horse’s saddles. Franjean says “We are here!” and Rool adds, “You are rescued!” Then they yell “Charge!” in unison.
Kael rides back into the courtyard holding a bundle of blankets meant to be Elora Danan. This pulls a lot of first-time viewers out of movie, because there’s no way that bundle of blankets has a baby in it. Kael makes a growling noise, and then sees Sorsha and Madmarigan fighting side by side against some NockMaar. There’s a close-up shot of the baby crying, so we know that is supposed to be here in his hands, and then Kael rides off. He and the surviving NockMaar have apparently regrouped in the last few seconds, because they now lead a charge of their own, riding straight at the Galladoorn. “No mercy!” Kael says. Kael easy slices and dices his way through the Galladoorn, revealing that the Galladoorn troops aren’t that many guys after all. Kael cuts through their line and continues to ride forward with another battle cry.
Back inside the castle walls, Willow emerges with action-hero blood on his forehead, calling “Elora!” Madmartign and Sorsha run over to him as he collapses. Willow breaks down in tears saying, “Elora is gone. They’ve taken here. There were too many of them.” Warwick Davis’ acting here is heartbreaking, but the score starts getting light and heroic right away. Madmartigan’s not having these tears. He says, “Willow, can you ride?” Willow looks up at him, and Madmartigan says “Let’s ride.”
Next: Why not try a holiday in NockMaar this year?
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