Film Review: My Ewok Adventure

The school holidays, was there ever a better time? Each time a holiday came around, there would be one day a week where my cousins, brother and I would descend onto my grandparents’ house to play, eat the best food in the world (a special gift all grandparents seem to possess) and watch movies. We took it in turns to which movie we watched: if it was my cousin Elizabeth it would be Pollyanna; if it was my brother it would be The Land Before Time or if it were my other cousins Richard and Andrew it would be The Sword in the Stone. When it came to my choice, there was only ever one thing, an elusive movie that we simply called ‘The Ewok Movie’.

It was a special treat to watch this movie. At home, I had the Star Wars movies, yet my grandparents had this film that had the Ewoks in. Being only five when I saw Star Wars, I was not encumbered by the prejudice towards Ewoks. To me they were a part of Star Wars and that was that. The movie in question, had been recorded off Sky onto VHS by my Uncle David. That was all I knew. I didn’t know the film had a different title (even though it’s shown at the start of the film) called The Battle of Endor. I didn’t know it was actually the second film following the Towani family (even though clearly the family didn’t just show up, crashed onto the planet!) At the time, I remembered asking my dad if this was in fact Star Wars, to which my father told me that Lucas must have just sold the rights off (even though the film is set on Endor, features Wicket and was a story by George Lucas!). Oh the naiveté of us all before the advent of the internet!

The film itself I adored. It was a simple story of a girl whose family gets killed in the first five minutes of the movie (very family friendly) and featured worthy adversaries in the form of Terak and the marauders. During the course of the film, we get to see Ewoks, witches and a wonderful character in the form of Teek. There were well known actors in the form of Wilford Brimley and Sian Phillips. It also featured a mixture of stop motion and real locations, which added to the feel that this was Star Wars. Yes, it didn’t have the grandiose of the original Star Wars movies, but with so little Star Wars about, as a child I was just happy to have something.

And that’s where the film stayed, as a treat I had when I went to see my grandparents. It was time I got to spend with my cousins and my grandparents, who would watch the film with us. As I got older, newer things made me forget the film, the prequels, the expanded universe, it all made the film seem like a distant memory. That was until in 2003, when I got a copy of the Star Wars Encyclopaedia by Steve Sansweet. The book had been out for years and had been on my wish list for quite some time, when I finally got one on eBay. Going through the book, I was amazed to discover that there was an entry for the Towani family, picture and all. Without thinking, the memories of the film came rushing back and the realisation that this was in fact Star Wars. With the internet at my fingertips, I found that there were in fact two films and I had seen the second in the set. Not only that, but Cindel had been briefly mentioned in the Black Fleet Crisis trilogy. With a quick search of eBay, I found a DVD that had both films converted from VHS. Within a few days, I was sat, watching the start of the film. Within another few days, I was with my granny and grandpa, watching the entire film at their house, loving every minute of this little film.

With a copy of the first film, Caravan of Courage, I decided to sit down and fill in the missing chapter that i had never seen, eager to see where it had all began for the Towani’s. Well, let’s just say it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It was, if possible, simpler than Battle for Endor and didn’t hold the same nostalgic appeal of the second film. I’m not even sure what I would have made of it as a child. Oh well! I still had the Battle of Endor and that’s what mattered.

When the films were released on official DVD a year later, I got it on release day, excited to have a high-definition copy of the film. My grandparents were very happy as they had my copy I brought off eBay and would watch it themselves. I would put it on a couple of times a year, sometimes with my grandparents, sometimes just by myself. It was a wonderful vessel to transport me back to my childhood. I always would have thought that would have been the end to my Ewok adventures.

Yet a few months ago, something happened that brought the Ewoks back to the forefront of my mind. I had been playing a few friendly games of Star Wars Destiny with my friend Gavin, who had brought an Ewok shampoo bottle as a ‘prize’ for the winner. Of course it was just a little thing but after an evening of playing, I won this coveted….thing. Now there was something about it I quite liked and when I got back home I put it on my desk, clearly visible. It did not take my two-year old daughter long to find it, at which point she pointed saying, “doggy!” I quickly corrected her, saying it was an Ewoks, at which point she turned to me, tilted her head slightly (disturbingly like Wicket) and said in a questioning tone, “Ewok?”. That was all the encouragement I needed. We sped to the lounge, got my copy of Battle for Endor and were sat down watching the movie in minutes. My daughter, Ember, was enraptured. She watched the film, loving the cuddly Ewoks, loving the mischievous Teek and loving the movie. And when it ended? “Again Daddy!” It was wonderful. The film took on a whole new meaning for me, Cindel saying goodbye to her father really hit hard as I was sat there with my own daughter in my lap.

It seems now that we are always watching Battle for Endor. I wonder if my story will come full circle when Ember is older and she will have as fond of memories as I do of this small film. As of yet, I haven’t shown her Caravan of Courage, I do wonder if it’ll hold her attention as much. But I can’t wait for when she is older and ready to watch the Original Trilogy. I always thought I’d want to see her reaction to the end of The Empire Strikes Back, but now it’s for when she finally sees Wicket back on screen, that might be truly magical.