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Willow (1988)

1:23 | Trailer
A young farmer is chosen to undertake a perilous journey in order to protect a special baby from an evil queen.


Ron Howard


George Lucas (story by), Bob Dolman (screenplay by)
941 ( 158)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Val Kilmer ... Madmartigan
Joanne Whalley ... Sorsha
Warwick Davis ... Willow Ufgood
Jean Marsh ... Queen Bavmorda
Patricia Hayes Patricia Hayes ... Fin Raziel
Billy Barty ... High Aldwin
Pat Roach ... Gen. Kael
Gavan O'Herlihy ... Airk Thaughbaer
David Steinberg ... Meegosh
Phil Fondacaro ... Vohnkar
Tony Cox ... Vohnkar Warrior
Robert Gillibrand Robert Gillibrand ... Vohnkar Warrior
Mark Northover ... Burglekutt
Kevin Pollak ... Rool
Rick Overton ... Franjean


A baby girl is discovered in a river by Ranon and Mims, the children of Willow Ufgood, a dwarf farmer and magician and the baby girl is taken into the care of Willow's family. But when a terrifying dog-like creature attacks Willow's village, whilst tracking down the baby. Willow consults the village council and the wizard The High Aldwin. The High Aldwin gives Willow a task and Willow leaves the village and embarks on the task to give the baby girl to a responsible person. But Willow soon learns the baby is Elora Danan, the baby girl destined to bring about the downfall of the evil sorceress Queen Bavmorda. Joined by his allies: swordsman Madmartigan, sorceress Fin Raziel and the Brownies Franjean and Rool, Willow takes it upon himself to protect Elora from Queen Bavmorda, who intends to kill Elora and prevent Elora from fulfilling her destiny. And Willow and his allies are pursued by Queen Bavmorda's daughter Sorsha and the evil commander of Queen Bavmorda's army General Kael, whom ... Written by Dan Williams

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Adventure doesn't come any bigger than this. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


There is a continuity error that involves the Magic Acorns Willow was given by the High Aldwin. During an interview with The Empire Podcast, Warwick Davis explained that in a scene near the end of the film, he throws a second acorn and is inexplicably out after having only used two of the three Magic Acorns he had been given earlier in the film. Included in the Blu-ray release is the cut scene, in which Willow uses an acorn (his second) in a boat during a storm and accidentally turns the boat to stone. Davis says that his hair is wet in the next scene that did make it into the original version of the film, but the acorn is never referenced. See more »


Just before arriving at the Castle of Tir Asleen Razel (in the shape of a rook) warns Willow of the approaching soldiers. A rock is briefly seen flying across the screen, aimed at the bird, to get it to fly away on cue. See more »


Madmartigan: Wake from this hateful sleep, it deprives me of your beauty, beauty of your eyes.
[Sorsha wakes up and pulls out a knife at Madmartigan]
Sorsha: One move jackass, and you really will be a woman.
[Sorsha stands up and pushes Madmartigan back]
Madmartigan: You are my sun, my moon, my starlit sky, without you, dwell in darkness. I love you.
Sorsha: What are you doing here?
Madmartigan: Your power has enchanted me, I stand helpless against it. Come to me now, tonight let me worship you in my arms.
Sorsha: Get away from me!
Madmartigan: I love you!
Sorsha: Stop saying that!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Although he played the title role, Warwick Davis took just third billing. Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley took first and second billing respectively. See more »

Alternate Versions

A deleted scene took place after Willow met Fin Raziel (as the muskrat) on the island. They left back on the boat, where a massive storm took place courtesy of Bavmorda's magic. Eventully, Willow is pulled under water and attacked by a fish/shark creature. A piece of the scene is shown in the "Making of Willow" documentary available on the DVD. Willow's hair is also noticibly wet when back on land. See more »


Referenced in By George (2012) See more »

User Reviews

A New Generation of Kids Will Love This Film
26 October 2006 | by aimless-46See all my reviews

To sum things up, this was really a George Lucus film-with the then relatively inexperienced Ron Howard hired to direct-under the watchful eye of Lucus. Lucus wrote the screenplay, raiding his bookshelf for Tolkein (especially "The Hobbit") and Lewis ("Narnia"). Then he simply transferred the hero/heroine romance from his "Star Wars" screenplay. Not necessarily a bad thing, it was a simple way for him to build a feature length screenplay targeting younger viewers but sophisticated enough to entertain the entire family. "Willow" has some scary stuff but should not be a problem for the average grade school viewer. My rating is based on comparisons to other films with a similar target audience.

I must confess up-front to a positive bias. My favorite part of "Star Wars" is the caustic romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia; and in "Willow" Lucus has refined his technique and actually improved something that was already close to perfection. Sorsha (Joanne Whalley) and Madmartigan (Val Kilmer) substitute nicely for Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, with the added dimension of having them begin the story on opposite sides. The romantic elements are efficiently and subtly inserted into the film. Even though these characters are part of the main storyline, the romance is separate enough to serve as the film's main parallel story. The only downside is that this side story soon becomes more interesting than the main one, so much so that its climatic kiss (occurring about 20 minutes before the ending) unintentionally turns into the film's climax (at least energy wise). The actual resolution of the main story then plays out rather anti-climatically.

"Willow" is a delivery quest story, much like "The Hobbit" where a reluctant Nelwyn (small person) is required to set out on a perilous journey to return a lost baby (even smaller) to a Daikini (tall person). Along the way he is assisted by a couple of Brownies (yet smaller guys who speak with outrageous French accents). The size differentials are the main theme of the film and are especially intriguing to young viewers who easily identify with having to deal with people who tower above them. Howard encourages this identification process by shooting most of the action at child level. If you watch the film with young children you will be amazed at its ability to draw them into the story, this happens because the camera angles intentionally match a child's point-of-view of the world. The viewing child's surrogate is the title character (Warwick Davis-who does a commentary on the DVD), a unlikely hero who inspires audience sympathy as he bravely faces the dangers of his journey while gamely putting up with an ever-changing group of irritating companions. There are frequent cutaways to Elora Danan (the baby), mostly for reaction shots. As in "Raising Arizona", the producers took enough stock clips to match her expressions to almost any situation. Willow learns early on from Cherlindrea (a dazzling fairy) that Elora Danan is a princess who (it has been foretold) will one day vanquish the evil Queen Baymorda (a fun role for Jean Marsh). Things get a bit Biblical/Narnia here as the Queen is seeking to eliminate the Princess before she becomes a threat.

The DVD features: "Willow:The Making of an Adventure" (made during production in 1988) and "Willow: Morf to Morphing" (made in 2001 for the DVD release), really put the film in historical context relative to its place in the evolution of special effects. It was really the transitional point where photochemical (film) effects were subordinated to digital effects. This gave "Willow" a significant place in film history and these two featurettes taken together nicely illustrate the continuing challenge to those involved with special effects; any new development is soon overused and no longer an audience draw. Meaning that effects people have to stay on the cutting edge to simply justify their existence.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

20 May 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Willow See more »


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,300,169, 22 May 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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