Warning: Some spoilers but not too many details.
This November, another Star Wars film will be turning the big 3-0, but it wasn’t released in theaters. It was released on television, November 24, 1985, yet the story takes place before Return of the Jedi. It’s a sequel to Caravan of Courage and if you want to learn more about that film, read this excellent post by my girl, Lazypadawan. In fact it was her article that made me want to watch the film on YouTube. I watched the film and it wasn’t until the end that I realized I had watched the wrong film. Oops. Oh well. I loved it anyway and I watched it again on May the 4th of this year. Before I talk about the story, let me share some background information about the production for the film.
Despite the success of Caravan of Courage, directors Jim and Ken Wheat were disappointed with the results and told Lucas they wanted to make another film starring the Towani family. During the story board sessions, George Lucas revealed that he had just watched Heidi with his daughter, Amanda and decided to make Cindel an orphan and have her befriend a grumpy old man who lived in the woods of Endor who would adopt her. So that means killing off her family folks!
Among the cast was Warwick Davis, who was reprising his role as Wicket (and speaking perfect English), Aubree Miller as Cindel, Wilford Brimley as Noa, Carel Struycken as Terak, leader of the Sanyassen Mauraders and Sian Phillips as Charal, a Nightsister.
Now on to the story.
Cindel tells Wicket that she will be leaving Endor with her family soon but then she gets a message that her family is in danger. They return to the Ewok village to find it’s under attack from Sanyassen Mauraders who’ve killed most of its inhabitants, including her parents and brother and enslaved the survivors, among them Wicket and Cindel. With the help of the other Ewoks, they escape into the forrest, are nearly attacked by a condor dragon and are cold and hungry to boot.
Enter Teek, a little imp who runs superfast but has a kind heart. He leads Cindel and Wicket to an empty home where they can stay for awhile. Like a scene out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the girl and the Ewok clean up the home and make some dinner. But uh-oh, who’s this coming up the path? It’s Noa, a grumpy old hermit who actually owns the house and he’s not happy with intruders. Eventually he comes to accept Cindel and Wicket as house guests and even helps Cindel get over her family’s deaths (the dialogue in the scene would be used again in the 1988 film, The Land Before Time, produced by Lucas). We also learn that Noa has a crashed ship in the forest which he’s been trying to fix since the day he came to Endor many years ago.
Meanwhile, back at the castle of Terak, king of the Mauraders, Terak is throwing a fit because he has a power generator that he thinks will give him “the power”. He threatens his lackey, the Nightsister, Charal, with death unless she brinsg him the girl, believing that she knows how to harness “the power”. Charal takes the form of a raven and flies off. She finds Cindel, captures her, and takes her to the castle.
Cindel tells Terak that she knows nothing about magic and that he’s mistaken about the source of this “power”. Enraged, he throws Cindel in prison with the aforementioned captured Ewoks. But fear not, star warriors! Noa, Wicket and Teek are here to save the day! They break into the castle, free Cindel and the Ewoks and a battle ensues. Terak is killed, Charal loses her powers, the Marauders are defeated and Endor is free to fight the Empire! Hooray! With a fixed ship and a new family, Cindel says goodbye to Teek and the Ewoks and she and Noa fly off.
What I like about this film is that it’s the first Star Wars film to have two female leads: Cindel is without a doubt, the hero of the story and her adversary is the Nightsister, Charal. This is also our first introduction to a Nightsister a type of dark arts, force wielder that would be explored further in The Courtship of Princess Leia and later The Clone Wars. It’s a film that every female star warrior should see considering the recent demand for more female inclusion in the GFFA. My only dislike of this film is that Peter Bernstein (son of Elmer) didn’t incorporate any of John Williams’ music (not even the “Ewok Parade” theme) into the score.
I also wish that Lucasfilm would create merchandise tie-ins for this movie: a Teek plush toy, action figures of Cindel, Noa, Charal, Terak, Wicket and Teek. Maybe Disney will do it, but I doubt it.
Nevertheless, this film is a great addition to your Star Wars DVD collection.