Rewatching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freakin’ Willow! Here it is. We’ve reached the final battle. Or, should that be the… swine-al battle? 1:52:35 to 1:56:19 on the Blu-ray.
We’re back inside the ritual chamber, where Bavmorda and Raziel are both still gripping the wand, each trying to pull it away from the other. There’s some terrific old lady fighting here, as Raziel punches Bavmorda three times right in the face, and then the both tumble over a piece of debris. Willow finally reaches the baby, who stops crying when she sees him.
Back to the fight, Bavmorda is now on top of Raziel, strangling her. Raziel collapses, and first-time viewers will wonder whether she’s dead or merely unconscious. Bavmorda turns to the altar to find it empty. Angered, she looks around the room. She sees Willow with the baby making a run for it. She uses magic to slam the door shut in front of Willow. Willow reacts with surprise, suggesting he hasn’t come up with his big plan yet.
Bavmorda says, “Bring back the child, peck.” (We’re still using the p-word this late in the movie?) Willow turns to face her, and she says, “Who are you?” He answers “I’m Willow Ufgood.” He stars down at the pouch at his belt, which we know contain the magic acorns. He then goes into action hero mode and says, “I’m a great sorcerer.” Bavmorda laughs, but Willow doesn’t back down, saying, “Greater than Raziel.” He reaches for an acorn. “Greater than you, even.” She continues laughing. He says, “I’m the greatest sorcerer!”
He throws an acorn at her, and she easily catches it. It almost looks like if she hadn’t caught it, it would have flown right over her right shoulder, missing her. There’s a nifty special effect as Bavmorda’s hand turns to stone. She grasps her wrist and concentrates, and it looks for a second like this causes her some trouble. Willow watches incredulously, thinking it’s working. Then Bavmorda’s hand returns to normal. The acorns have been a ticking clock throughout the movie, with the audience wondering when Willow will use them, and this is the big payoff. That’s why I wish we hadn’t seen the working before. If we hadn’t there still would have been a lingering question as to whether they would work at all, making this moment even more effective.
Bavmorda shakes some dust off her hand (remains of the acorn, I’m assuming) and goes back into taunting mode, saying “Is that the extent of your powers, little one?” Willow ducks down behind one of the broken stone columns that surround the room. Bavmorda gets serious again, saying “Now you will watch me draw upon the power of the universe to send that child into the netherworld. Now place it on the altar.” The word “universe” is of note, as it doesn’t appear that this society has advanced telescopes. It’s possible that in her studies of dark magic, Bavmorda gained an understanding of stars, planets, galaxies, et cetera. Similarly, let’s not forget that someone once upon a time added a bunch of Willow stuff to Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki, making an argument that all this is happening in planet located in the Star Wars canon, meaning Bavmorda’s “power of the universe,” might just be the Dark Side of the Force or, worse, midichlorians.
Bavmorda’s behavior throughout this goes back and forth from her taunting Willow to her being deadly serious. But then, this has been her personality for the whole movie. When things aren’t going her way she gets enraged and merciless, but laughs and plays around with her enemies when she’s winning.
Willow steps out from behind the stone, in a nice shot that shows a lot of the background in this room, with creepy looking stuff all over the walls. He takes a few steps forward as the lightning flashes overhead, and says “No.” Raziel pauses for a second and repeats, “No?” He says, “You stupid hag!” Nice country bumpkin insult there. “With my magic, I’ll send her into a… into the…” She bursts out laughing before he can finish. “You’re no sorcerer!” she says. He finishes his thought, saying, “Into a realm where evil cannot touch her!”
“Impossible!” Bavmorda says, “There’s no such place!” Note that she doesn’t identify herself as evil. No doubt some part of her truly believes she’s doing right thing for her kingdom. Willow starts chanting magic words, and if you listen carefully, these magic words are just slightly different from the ones he’s been using when he does magic throughout the rest of the movie. “Bavmorda says, “You fool. I will destroy you and the child with you.” Willow keeps reciting the words, holding out the baby in front of him. He pauses just long enough to say, “Goodbye Elora.”
Bavmorda does a little magic to make Cherlindrea’s wand fly into her hand. (You’d think she would have done this sooner, given how she fought for it.) Willow stops chanting and pulls away the baby’s blanket, to reveal the baby is no longer there, as if vanished into thin air. Bavmorda gasps with shock. Willow grabs his wrist and falls down in pain. Is Bavmorda doing this to him, or is this part of his plan?
In another corner of the room, Raziel comes to and sits up. Bavmorda has an epic villain freakout, screaming “Impossible!” She stumbles forward in confusion, spilling two bowls of red liquid (blood?) off of the altar. The liquid splashes at her feet. The wand in her hand glows blue, and she rears back, no doubt about to attack Willow. Then lightning comes down from the opening in the ceiling.
The lightning doesn’t strike Bavmorda directly, but instead strikes the wand in her hand. As it does, red mist from around her feet swirls up around her. We hear her screaming in pain, but it looks as if she’s frozen in place as both the blue lighting and the red mist surround her. There are even quick flashes of Bavmorda’s skeleton in the lightning, reminiscent of the finale of Return of the Jedi.
Willow watches, and there’s a quick shot of Sorsha waking up from unconsciousness just in time to see this. In the next shot, Bavmorda has all but vanished, leaving only the lightning, the red mist, and her screams in her place. In a very cool animated effect the mist slowly moves up to the opening in the ceiling, and then picks up speed as it leaves into the sky, almost snake-like. This is the Ritual of Oblivion reaching its climax, whereupon the object of the ritual has their very essence destroyed, which banishes them into the netherworld. The tie-in fiction states that the magic turned against Bavmorda because she “corrupted” the altar by the spilling the fluid. (If Gandalf were here, he’d say it was probably meant to be from the beginning.)
Raziel and Willow sit there for a moment, taking in what they’ve seen. Then the doors fly open and Madmartigan rushes in with some Galladoorn soldiers behind him. He helps Sorsha to her feet and they kiss. Raziel asks, “Willow, where’s the baby, and we see how badly her face is scarred from the fight. Madmartigan and Sorsha look around in fear.
Then Willow steps out from behind the stone column from earlier, holding the baby. He says one of the movie’s signature lines, “It was just my old disappearing pig trick.” Madmartigan and Sorsha smile, Willow holds up the baby so we see her face, confirming it’s really her. Raziel laughs and says, “Well done.”
Next: Nowhere to go but home.
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