Thursday, April 18, 2013

Genre Character of the Week: Willow Ufgood

 So back in 1988 I was twelve-years-old and my mother took my three sisters and me down to Edmonton’s historic Princess Theatre (pictured left) to see the new movie, Willow. The four of us stood in a pretty long lineup for about half an hour waiting to buy our tickets, and then the manager comes out and starts counting people in the line.
The show was almost sold out and we were either going to just make the cut or have to come back and see the movie another day. Luckily for us, we made it, although we ended up sitting scattered throughout the two floors of the theatre, and I ended up in the very front row, head craned back and nervous about the group of older girls I had to sit beside to see the film.
The next two hours of my life then proceeded to fly by, as I saw my first really great live-action fantasy film. Now I know, Star Wars and E.T. can both be fit clearly into the fantasy genre, depending on your point of view, and the early 80’s had a lot of great Fantasy classics like Ladyhawke, Time Bandits, Conan the Barbarian, Legend, and Excalibur, not to mention one of my favourite films period, The Princess Bride. But the thing is, I saw all of those on home video, rather than in an actual movie theatre – so for me Willow rightly takes its place as my first Fantasy film experience in a movie theatre.
For those of you who don’t know, the film follows this little guy, Willow Ufgood, a member of a race of little people called Nelwins, as he becomes the protector of a baby, and ends up having to save the world. For many people the movie is a sort of forgettable, pre-Lord of the Rings fantasy film also filmed in New Zealand and that’s about it.

For me, however, the story of this young husband and father going on a grand adventure and learning to trust in himself and his abilities totally resonated with me.

I’ll be quite honest here, I’m a pretty huge fan of the film – I read the novelization by Wayland Drew and played both the NES game and the Arcade version when I could. Although not a fan of the sequel series of novels, I think I may be one of the bigger fans of this film in my hometown, or at least in my neighborhood.
The film has recently been released on Blu-Ray, and if you haven’t check it out yet, it is definitely worth a look.

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