Turn Back the Clock
Star Wars: Caravan of Courage
Distributed by: MGM Home Video
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When Star Wars: Return of the Jedi had completed its run in the movie theaters, fans were starved for anything Star Wars. George Lucas decided to give Star Wars fans what they wanted in the form of a new adventure. Star Wars: Caravan of Courage, a made-for-television movie aired in 1984 and featured those cute, furry little creatures from Endor - the Ewoks.
The story, narrated by Burl Ives, begins shortly after the crash landing of the Towani familyís starcruiser on Endor. Marooned on an unfamiliar planet, the children get separated from the parents. The children, luckily enough, are found by the more peaceful indigenous species on the planet, the Ewoks. The parents arenít so lucky and are taken captive by an enormous monster known as the Gorax.
While the youngest child, Cindel (Aubree Miller), recovers from a mysterious illness thanks to medicine provided by the Ewok clanís shaman, Logray (Bobby Bell), older brother Mace (Eric Walker) struggles to remain in the village, somehow knowing that his parents are in trouble. The two children eventually persuade the Ewoks to help them rescue their parents, but at what cost?
I was a teenager when I first saw this film, and although I was a little too old for this movie, I still remember finding some enjoyment in just watching something that had to do with Star Wars. I remember my brother enjoyed the film quite a bit. Years later, watching the DVD version of the film, I have the maturity to notice several issues with the film.
The first issue is continuity. This film supposedly takes place before the arrival of the Rebel Forces in Return of the Jedi. If that is the case, then why is it that when the Rebels arrive, the Ewoks act as if they have never dealt with humans before. This is especially odd when you realize that one of the Ewoks who befriend Cindel and Mace is Wicket (Warwick Davis) the Ewok who warily comes to the aide of Princess Leia, despite how spooked he is by her arrival. If he had learned how to speak Basic from Cindel, why canít he understand Leia and her friends when they speak it?
Another issue is, being a made-for-TV movie, there was a limit to all the high-tech stuff George Lucas could do on that kind of budget. Thus the appearance of actual animals on an exotic planet, including Arabian ponies, horses and a ferret. And the tech that does make its way into the film is a bit overused, like the wistie Izrina, a little flame-like creature who befriends Mace. The wistie is little more than a drawn character filmed in various poses that flickered a lot. Not the kind of Star Wars tech weíre used to.
However, one must remember that Caravan of Courage was geared toward the children. Keeping this in mind, the technology was just fine for our younger fans. The use of Burl Ives as narrator, with that soothing, grandfatherly voice, was a perfect choice. I always found the Ewoks to be some of the most adorable and funny creatures in the Star Wars Universe. They were specifically designed to appeal to a younger Star Wars fan and they do so perfectly, looking and acting like little furry teddy bears. The story is a classic, lost children looking to back to their parents. The idea that the kids have to save their parents from an evil monster is also classic. And what kid doesnít enjoy an action adventure film featuring kids and furry creatures?
As an adult, I can honestly say that Caravan of Courage was an excellent companion to Return of the Jedi for the younger generation of Star Wars fans. It gave them a new adventure for them to follow and more of a taste of those cute, cuddly creatures they had already grown to love. Caravan of Courage was such a success with the children that George Lucas created a sequel to the film entitled Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
So, if you have young children who love Star Wars, or if youíre just one of those Star Wars fans who must watch anything ever created by George Lucas, Caravan of Courage is the movie for you. The DVD is rare, but can be found for a decent price if you look hard enough.