250 user 108 critic

Willow (1988)

1:23 | Trailer
A reluctant young man must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen.


Ron Howard


George Lucas (story by), Bob Dolman (screenplay by)
394 ( 202)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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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


A world where heroes come in all sizes and adventure is the greatest magic of all See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






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:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Xena: Warrior Princess: Cradle of Hope (1995) bares a similar plot to Willow (1988). In that episode of Xena: Warrior Princess (1995), Xena (Lucy Lawless) and Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) find a newborn baby in a basket on a river and they become the baby's protectors, when they learn that the baby was prophesied to sit on the throne of King Gregor (Edward Newborn) and the King's advisor Nemos (Simon Prast), whom secretly plots to overthrow the King, sets out to prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled. See more »


After Madmartigan rolls down the hill inside the giant snowball, a watchman shouts out that the soldiers are coming. Given how long and fast it took them to slide down, how did they get there so fast? Also, you hear clear clip-clop hoof-beat noises from the horses as they trample through loose powdery snow. See more »


Soldier: Outta the way, Peck!
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

In order to obtain a PG certificate by the BBFC in the UK, 34 seconds were edited for the theatrical version.
  • The boars killing the midwife early in the film was cut entirely.
  • The scene of Bavmorda turning people into pigs was toned down. One shot of Madmartigan's transformation was cut, and a shot of Sorsha collapsing to the ground was cut.
  • Also, during the fight at the castle towards the end, Willow zaps the troll with his wand, and 2 creatures emerge from its skin. In the UK version of this film, the bit where the creatures quickly rip the skin off of the troll is missing.
  • General Kael's stabbing of Airk was shortened.
  • Some of the bloodiest moments in the fight between Madmartigan and Kasel were cut. Also, cut was the second sword thrust into General Kael when Madmartigan steps on the sword and drives it through him.
  • Shots of Raziel punching Bavmorda in the face was cut and Bavmorda strangling Raziel was shortened.
  • The distributors also reduced the redness of the blood in some fight scenes and toned down certain sound effects. The film was only available in the UK in this censored form until 2002, when the BBFC passed the film uncut with a PG rating.
See more »


Referenced in Continue?: Magic Sword (Arcade) (2014) See more »

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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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