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Defining Moments: “Courage, Willow”

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Lucasfilm’s Fantasy Adventure Shows Heroism in its Many Forms

“Defining Moments” is a continuing series exploring key scenes or sequences from Lucasfilm’s many productions. It examines storytelling craft, behind-the-scenes insights, and cultural legacies from each selection. Revisit an old favorite or discover something brand new…

Production: Willow (1988)

At sunrise in a desolate valley littered with the wastes of battle, a small farmer and an old sorceress make a stand. An evil fortress looms above them where soldiers look down in bemusement at the seemingly insignificant pair.

Young Willow Ufgood was not supposed to be there. Call it fate or happenstance, his compassion for a young baby led him to this moment. He clutches a braid of hair from his wife, Kiaya, now very far away.

In contrast, Fin Raziel has waited many years for this moment, a chance to face the evil Bavmorda and put a stop to her dark powers. “It is you who has made this all possible,” she tells Willow. “Your children will come to remember this day.”

Raziel shouts up to their adversary, “We call upon you to surrender!” Willow declares, “We are all-powerful sorcerers! Give us the baby or we’ll destroy you!” Their enemy laughs and jeers. A commander orders them to be killed. The gates slowly open, knights on horseback emerge. “Patience, Willow,” urges Raziel. “Courage, Willow,” he tells himself.

Though still just a sorcerer-in-training, Willow has a knack for ordinary magic. With the loud bang of a drum, he reveals his final trick. Suddenly, warriors emerge from covered pits in the ground and make a break for the castle gates. The ruse works. Raziel will take on Bavmorda, and Willow will rescue the kidnapped child, Elora Danan.

Diminutive heroes show us the meaning of courage, to face challenges in spite of one’s fear, to be resilient in the face of adversity. In these two lone figures resides a timeless archetype that stirs the hero in each of us.

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