aka Caravan of Courage; The Ewok Movie
Director/Photography – John Korty, Screenplay – Bob Carrau, Story – George Lucas, Producer – Thomas G. Smith, Music – Peter Bernstein, Visual Effects – Industrial Light and Magic (Supervisor – John McLeod), Stop Motion Animation – Jon Berg & Phil Tippett, Production Design – Joe Johnston. Production Company – Lucasfilm/Korty Films.
Eric Walker (Mace), Aubree Miller (Cindel), Warwick Davis (Wicket), Dan Fisherman (Deej), Debbie Carrington (Weechee), Tony Cox (Widdle), Guy Boyd (Jeremitt), Fionulla Flanagan (Catarine)
A family crash on Endor in their space shuttle. A cannibalistic giant captures the parents, but the two children Mace and Cindel escape. They are taken in by the Ewoks. They persuade the Ewoks to aid them rescuing their parents. And so they set out on a journey to the giant’s cave in a faraway valley , a journey that is filled with many perils and magical marvels.
Return of the Jedi (1983) was the most crassly commercial of all George Lucas’s sequels to Star Wars (1977). There were times that it felt like it had been made as an extended commercial for the toy companies. Most annoying to audiences in the double digit age group was the introduction of the squirm-inducingly cute Ewok teddy bears. Following his retirement from the original series in 1983, George Lucas then further expanded the adventures of the Ewoks in this made-for-tv movie. It received a cinema release outside of the United States under the title Caravan of Courage and was followed by a sequel and then an animated series, Ewoks (1985-7), which attempted to further milk all possible cuteness out of the characters. Of course, this was before the massive marketing of every aspect of the Star Wars universe that went into overdrive in during the 1990s.
The crassness of George Lucas’s attempt to cash-in on his own bandwagon cannot help but dilute the impact of his original vision. On a juvenile level, The Ewok Adventure is undemandingly pleasant, albeit doused in heavy doses of cuteness. The fantasy elements – cyclopean giants, magicians, fairies, magic pools – are played up even more so than they were in the Star Wars films – the film is far closer to being an epic fantasy film along the lines of Lucas’s own Willow (1988) than it is to the science-fiction universe of Star Wars.
The scripting is jerky and episodic – too much time is spent muddling around the Ewok village at the start. The special effects, intended for the small screen, look grainy in cinematic blow-up, and far below the standards that Industrial Light and Magic employed on the rest of the Star Wars films. While the midgets in the teddy bear suits are okay, male lead Eric Walker is far too awkward to carry the film, although the younger Aubree Miller is much better. The whole affair is dreadfully insipid and cutsie.
The Ewok Adventure was followed by a slightly better tv movie sequel Ewoks and the Marauders of Endor/Ewoks II: The Battle for Endor (1986), which also starred Aubree Miller and was given a cinematic release outside the US.
John Korty had a career directing mostly in television since the 1960s where he was responsible for classic tv movies such as Go Ask Alice (1973) and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974). In genre material, he also made the George Lucas-produced animated film Twice Upon a Time (1983) and the tv movies, The People (1972) about a village of aliens, the ghost story The Haunting Passion (1983), the medium film They (1993) and the sex-reversed Dickens retelling Ms. Scrooge (1997).