Watching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freakin’ Willow! The battle of NockMaar begins, and things get a little Evil Dead-ish, 1:44:20 to 1:47:24 on the Blu-ray.
Madmartigan leads the soldiers into the courtyard through some sort of arched hallway, with gear stacked along one side. This is followed by a shot of the NockMaar inside scrambling and picking up weapons as the Galladoorn enter. A lot of action happens really quick. A NockMaar grabs a Galladoorn soldier and pulls him off his horse, followed by a Galladoorn stabbing a NockMaar right in the chest. Three NockMaar fire arrows, hitting at least one invading Galladoorn. Kael puts his skull-face mask on. Remember than when he’s wearing the mask, Kael believes himself to be an unkillable god. This will come into play before the movie is over.
A couple of interesting points here. For one, this whole battle is staged and shot so there’s never any question as to who’s the good guys and who’s the bad guys. The armor is different, yes, but it’s also a progression of shots and progression of events so that we get a sense of the back-and-forth action. Also, in movie time, we just had a big battle a few minutes ago, so how to make this one different? It’s in cloudy weather, soon to be rain, and it’s set against the all-black castle walls, giving it a different color scheme. This courtyard also appears more confined the courtyard in Tir Asleen, more like a series of long hallways rather than a big open space in the center.
Then it’s back inside, to Bavmorda and her wise men, still preparing for the ritual. Yes, according to the tie-in lore, they really have been up all night just preparing for this, while everything else has been going on for hours. One wise man hits that big gong again, and three more walk around holding candles. Bavmorda stands in the center of the room, with rain starting to pour down from above. She chants some magic words and says, “Exile this child to the thirteenth night.” What does this mean? Not sure, but we know this ritual involves twelve hours, twelve candles that must be lit, and a gong being rung twelve times. Number thirteen, then, is presumably the moment when the baby is banished into oblivion. Then there’s another shot of the baby crying, to tug on the ol’ heartstrings.
Back outside, we catch up with some of our heroes. Inside the castle courtyard, Sorsha hops off her horse. Then a NockMaar (Is it Airk? Hard to tell with his helmet on.) has Willow with him on his horse. He helps Willow off the horse. Then Fin Raziel is there, presumably having also hitched a ride on horseback. Sorsha says, “This way!” and Raziel and Willow follow her. This is some nice internal logic at work, because of course she knows the layout of the castle. Then there’s another shot of the Brownies running across the foreground with fighting in the background. It doesn’t appear that they’re contributing in any meaningful way, just acting all crazy. Also, it’s clearly starting to rain now, for some nice continuity with the rain seen in Bavmorda’s chamber.
Next we’re with Madmartigan, slicing a NockMaar through the gut. This is followed by General Kael, who has a much less flashy fighting style, punching helmeting Galladoorn in the face and even chuckling slightly as he does it. A Galladoorn comes at him with a shield, but Kael is tough he knocks the guy and his shield out of frame with one sword strike. Still not done, Kael walks up to a Galladoorn on horseback and punches the guy in the face, showing off just giant of a man actor Pat Roach was.
Sorsha leads Raziel and Willow up some steps, with her being very careful to keep her back to the wall at all times. Then we see some NockMaar firing arrows from behind shield men, causing a Galladoorn horse and rider to fall into the mud. Airk shows up at this point, atop the castle wall. There’s a big vat of boiling oil or acid being guarded by a NockMaar, only for Airk to sneak up behind him and slash his throat. Airk then sees that same group of shield men. With an action-hero grunt, he pulls a rope, turning over the boiling acid. The steaming blood-red liquid (What is this stuff?) lands perfectly onto the archers protected by the shield men, causing the whole group of enemy soldiers to scatter.
Cut to Sorsha inside the castle, slowly creeping up a spiral staircase with, with Willow and Raziel close behind. Willow has now adopted Sorsha’s style of keeping close to the wall. There’s a really cool shot of Sorsha’s sword silhouetted in front of the opening to Bavmorda’s chamber, with blue light glowing from within. Willow and Raziel round the corner and look on with shock. They’re just looking at the door, however, which is closed. Maybe they’re responding the sound of the baby crying, or the spooky skull on the wall, to one side of the door. Willow and Sorsha both put hands on Willow’s shoulder, and Raziel, “It’s all right, Willow. You don’t have to go.” This bit in the stairs is less than a minute of the movie, but every shot is moody, atmospheric, and just really cool.
From inside, Bavmorda says, “Light the thirteenth candle!” Sorsha sheathes her sword (Why?) and she and Raziel slowly approach the door. Cut to the same door, now seen on the inside of the chamber. Raziel throws both doors open with a dramatic flourish. The chamber fills with wind, and we see the candles blow out. The camera zooms on Bavmorda, who coldly hisses, “Raziel.”
Then it’s Sorsha’s turn to be dramatic, as she steps in front of Raziel and shouts, “Mother!” She then hesitates, steps back, and only says, “I…” Raziel says, “Traitor child, I must despise you now. She motions to two of the wise men, who attack with scimitar-like curved swords. Sorsha’s first move is to knock over one of the containers of blood-red liquid. She slashes at the first wise men with a flurry of sword swipes. It looks like she cuts him on the arm, but this is nonetheless enough for him to hit the floor. Sorsha takes out a second wise man with a high kick (sweet!), and a third wise man attacks. He raises his sword to bring it down on her, only to get it stuck in the wall. Sorsha stabs him and he falls. Then, in a bird’s eye shot taking in the hole chamber, we see Sorsha kick the sword out of his hand and stab him again, making it final.
Sorsha walks into the center of the room. Bavmorda watches with a strange smile on her face. Sorsha steps up to Bavmorda and says, “I won’t let you kill that child.” Bavmorda says, “Away with you!” Sorsha walks up the baby, only for Bavmorda to raise a hand. Sorsha is magically lifted into the air, dropping her sword. It’s an Evil Dead style shot as the camera follows along with Sorsha asshe flies across the room and toward a gated wall covered with spikes. Raziel raises her wand, and Sorsha stops in mid-air, right in front of the spikes. Bavmorda and Raziel eye each other across the room. Bavmorda now has both hands up, and Raziel’s wand now glows blue. Sorsha falls to the floor, apparently out cold. Then another shot of the baby looking sad.
Bavmorda says, “Your powers have gained in strength, Raziel.” Before the audience can wonder how that’s possible, Raziel answers for us, saying “I have Cherlindrea’s wand, Bavmorda. There’s a closeup of Bavmorda, now looking less playful and more grim. Raziel points the wand at her, saying “Alora Danan will be queen.”
Next: Blood n’ guts.
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