Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (originally released as The Ewok Adventure) is a 1984 made-for-TV movie directed by John Korty from a script by Bob Carrau and story by George Lucas. It focuses on a family of humans who have been shipwrecked on the forest moon of Endor. After the parents are kidnapped by the Gorax, their children team up with the Ewoks in a quest to rescue them. The film was followed by 1985's Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
The Towani family's star cruiser has crashed on the forest moon of Endor. The children—Cindel and Mace—have gone missing, and their parents Jeremitt and Catarine are searching for them with flashlights. Suddenly, they are ambushed by the Gorax.
In an Ewok village, two of Deej Warrick's children—Weechee and Widdle—have also gone missing. He uses a hang glider to search the forest. In the process, he sees an object on the forest floor that is reflecting light. He locates the missing Ewok children, and on the way back they investigate the shining object. The object is the Towani starcruiser, inside of which they find the human child Cindel. Outside, Mace attacks one of the Ewoks, and enters the starcruiser wreck with his blaster, where he threatens the other Ewoks, fearing that they are a threat and that they may have their parents. The Ewoks subdue him, and carry him back to their village on a stretcher, with Cindel in tow.
When they reach the village, Cindel becomes sick. Mace asks the Ewoks for food, thinking that it will help her. They instead give Cindel some of their medicine. However, it isn't enough to restore her health and the Ewoks don't have anymore, so Mace goes to find a special tree that contains the medicinal fluid. He reaches inside the tree and is attacked by a temptor. After a struggle, he manages to pull his hand out with the help of the Ewoks. They bring the fluid back to Cindel, and the Ewoks offer to use some to heal Mace's wound from the tree incident.
The next morning, Cindel is doing better, and she and Wicket (another of Deej's sons) get to know each other while sitting around a table. She explains to Wicket that she and her family were in a ship that crashed. Mace is skeptical of the Ewoks' and tells Cindel that they will be leaving the village when he gets his blaster back. That night, while the Ewoks are asleep, Mace wakes Cindel up and retrieves his blaster. They leave the village and make their way into the forest. Cindel insists that they are lost, and asks to rest. Mace builds a fire, and admits that he too misses their parents, and regrets some of his past bad behavior around them. Cindel worries that their parents are dead, but Mace is convinced they're not. Soon they hear a boar-wolf approaching, and take off running. Mace shoots at the boar-wolf. They take refuge in a hollow tree trunk, which the wolf tries and fails to get through.
The next morning, the children awaken to the Ewoks fighting the boar-wolf with spears. Wicket shoots a poison dart into the beast, which subdues it. On the boar-wolf, they find Jeremitt's life monitor, which indicates that their parents are still alive. Mace asks the Ewoks for help in determining where the boar-wolf came from. Deej points him to Logray, the village shaman.
In Logray's hut, Logray uses his crystal image spinner to discover the location of the Towani parents, who are being held in a cage by the Gorax. Cindel asks Deej for help, but he initially refuses, in the knowledge that Jeremitt and Catarine are being held in a place that no Ewok has ever returned from. Deej thinks it over, and decides to help the children. That night, Deej's wife Shodu looks mournfully at her family, fearing that she may never see them again.
The next day, all of the village helps prepare for the journey. Logray calls the group to participate in a ceremony, in which they are each given one of the Sacred Tokens of the Legendary Ewok Warriors. Deej (the leader of the group) is given the White Wings of Hope, Weechee (the eldest son) is given the Red Wings of Courage, Wicket is given a magic walking stick, Widdle is given the Blue Wings of Strength, Cindel is given the Candle of Pure Light, and Mace is given a rock. A crystal and an ivory tooth are brought along to give to other Ewoks who they must find to join them in their quest. Mace dismisses his rock and throws it aside, but Wicket picks it up behind him. The Warrick family says their goodbyes, Logray blesses the group, and they depart on their quest. Cindel and Wicket ride in a compartment atop a horse, while the rest of the group either rides a horse or walks.
A tree suddenly falls behind Mace. He fears for Cindel, but quickly discovers that she is alright. Chukha-Trok appears with an ax, and Deej offers him the ivory tooth to go with them. Mace protests, and challenges Chukha-Trok to an ax-throwing contest to prove his worth as a warrior. This earns Mace's respect, and he asks Chukha-Trok to join them. They continue on their quest, but Deej stops to find Kaink the priestess, to whom he gives the crystal totem. Before she can join however, they must pass a test; Kaink hands Mace the crystal, which turns into a lizard. Mace storms off in frustration, but Cindel picks up the lizard and it turns into a white mouse. She asks Kaink for her help and she agrees.
They continue in their quest, now crossing vast fields. They reach a lake, where Mace sees his reflection and becomes curious. He touches the water and is suddenly trapped below the surface. Cindel and Wicket are playing, but she suddenly realizes that Mace has disappeared. She calls for help, and the Ewoks run to help him. They first try a rope, but it too becomes trapped below the surface. They then try a tree branch, which does the same. Cindel then tells Wicket to use his magic stick. This works, and Mace grabs ahold, and they pull him to safety. Back on dry land, Deej and Kaink look at a map, while Weechee and Widdle play a game and Wicket swings on a tree branch. Mace ushers the group to move on, and puts Cindel in the compartment atop the horse. He then calls for Wicket, who lets go of the tree branch. This scares the horse, which runs away with Cindel. Chukha-Trok rides another horse after her. He gets alongside the horse, and brings it to a stop.
Chukha-Trok, Cindel and the horses return to the rest of the group, and they continue their quest. That evening, they set up camp for the night. In one tent, Cindel, Wicket and Mace are almost asleep, when a Wistie grabs Mace's attention. He follows it outside, and an entire group of Wisties emerge from the ground. He calls for the other to come and look. Wicket instantly recognized them, alerts other tents to look. A sleepy Widdle comes out, but is not impressed. Cindel sets her candle on the ground, and the Wisties gather around it. They all fly down into the flame of the candle, which transforms into Queen Izrina. Mace takes her into his hand, and he and Cindel speculates that Izrina is away from her family like she, Mace and Wicket are. The group continues their quest, and camps again that night. Cindel complains of being hungry, but Mace refuses, not knowing how longer their quest will be. Wicket then offers them some food. Mace brings out Izrina, and offers her some of the food. She then flies around the tent, to the joy of all the inhabitants.
The next day, the group crosses the Desert of Salma, where they finally reach the Forbidden Fortress of the Gorax. Mace wonders aloud how they will enter the fortress. Kaink suggests Mace's rock, but Mace tells him that he threw it away. Wicket has it however, and gives it to Mace. Mace is still skeptical, and ask what to do with it. Kaink motions for him to shake it, which makes Mace realize that it has something inside. He throws it on the ground to reveal an arrowhead, which Kaink motions for him to put on the ground. The arrowhead then magically points and moves toward the entrance to the fortress, which they discover is blocked by a giant boulder. Mace then uses his blaster to destroy the boulder and unblocks a cave entrance. They go inside, and Deej insists that the youngest members of the group (Wicket, Widdle and Cindel) stay by the entrance. Mace tells Cindel to stay behind, and everyone exchanges hugs.
The rest of the group moves deeper into the fortress, where they eventually encounter a giant spider web stretched across a bottomless pit. Mace climbs onto the web, and compares moving on it to "climbing a ladder sideways". Suddenly, a spider attacks them. Mace stabs it with a knife, causing it to fall into the pit. The Ewoks follow him across. Meanwhile, back at the entrance, Wicket reassures and entertains Cindel. Deej is the last of the group to cross, when he is also attacked by a giant spider. Mace pulls his blaster, only to find it out of power. Deej tries to knock it away, Kaink uses her magic wand to hypnotize the spider. Once Deej is safely across, Chukha-Trok uses his ax to cut the spider web, which causes the spider to fall with the web into the pit.
The group then finds themselves at the bottom of a giant staircase, where they attacked by a third spider, which Wicket kills with a knife. They climb the steps to the top, where they find the Gorax's lair. Mace hears the Gorax, and tells the others to run and hide with him. However, Weechee doesn't make it out in time, and has to hide behind the Gorax's giant ax as the Gorax sits down at his table eating off of a bone. It gets up to look at its next meal: Jeremitt and Catarine, who are hanging in a cage from the ceiling. Weechee accidentally knocks the ax over, which garners the Gorax's attention, and it comes after him. He runs to the rest of the group, who again run and hide. Mace wonders how they will reach their parents, and Chukha-Trok suggests they use the Gorax's ax as a lever. Mace stands on one end, at which point Jeremitt and Catarine notice him. Chukha-Trok and Deej jump off a ledge onto the other end of the lever, which sends Mace flying up into the air, where he grabs hold of the cage containing his parents. Mace throws down a rope, and introduces Chukha-Trok as "a friend" as he climbs up.
Mace climbs down first, but as soon as he reaches the bottom, the Gorax notices their activity. Weechee distracts it by hiding under a basket and moving across the floor. The Gorax smashes the basket, but finds nothing underneath. Weechee runs out from behind a corner, enraging the Gorax. Meanwhile, everyone continues climbing down from the cage, which is beginning to break. Weechee runs back to warn them, with the Gorax on his trail. The cage breaks, and Chukha-Trok falls into the hands of Jeremitt. They run out of the Gorax's lair, but Chukha-Trok stays behind and repeatedly attacks the Gorax's foot with his ax. As Mace is yelling for him to come on, Izrina lights up in his pocket. Mace unleashes Izrina on the Gorax, which disorients it while Chukha-Trok continues his attacks. In a rage, the Gorax strikes the walls of his fortress, which causes rocks to crumble and fall on Chukha-Trok. Mace runs to him, but realizes that Chukha-Trok is dying. Before he dies, Chukha-Trok gives Mace his ax. The Gorax chases the survivors down the giant steps, but they use a pulled-tight rope to trip him. Kaink then uses her magic wand to cause a stalactite to fall on his head. Catarine then uses Mace's blaster to shoot the Gorax in the chest, which causes him to fall off the ledge into the pit. Mace shows Deej Chukha-Trok's ax, and explains his sacrifice to them.
Cindel, Wicket and Widdle appear on the other side of the chasm. But at that moment, the Gorax emerges from the pit and moves toward them. Mace throws Chukha-Trok's ax into the Gorax's back, which causes him to fall back into the pit. The group then swing across the chasm using a remaining part of the spider web as rope. Once they are safely on the other side, the family embraces, happy to be back together and out of danger. They then head for home, with Mace suggesting that Izrina will help guide the way.
Later on, back at the Ewok village, Mace says goodbye to Izrina, and the Towani and Warrick families hold a celebration.
- "People were expecting Star Wars on TV – which was what we never intended to do. We were much more interested in telling a story that was a more exciting and contemporary version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears."
- ―Bob Carrau
Some time after the release of Return of the Jedi, George Lucas had the idea for a television special involving the Ewoks. The idea emerged from his desire to make a movie for his young daughter Amanda, who was a particular fan of the Ewoks. Producer Thomas G. Smith pitched the idea to the major television networks, all of whom turned him down except ABC, who agreed on the condition that the project could fill two hours of television. Lucas later commented on the production: "I hadn't done any TV and it was a chance to use many people in the company who hadn't had much experience with live-action production and experiment a little. The economics of TV are vastly different than the economics of film. It was done for very little money."
John Korty served as director and cinematographer for the film, which was written by Lucas and Bob Carrau. Korty and Smith held auditions for most of the roles in Los Angeles and Marin County. The only roles which weren't auditioned were those of Warwick Davis and the other Ewok actors, who had already proven themselves in Return of the Jedi. Pre-production began in April 1984 and filming began that June, taking place throughout Marin County, California and the California Redwoods. The film shot for eight weeks, with a shooting schedule structured around child labor laws, as well as the children's school schedules. Davis had a tutor on set, with whom he studied for four hours per day. Lucas himself directed the film's re-shoots and edited some of the film's scenes. Davis also filmed one of the shots. After production was complete, Lucas and Smith oversaw post-production.
At Lucas's suggestion, an actual hang-glider was built and flown in the film by an actor in an Ewok suit. Jon Berg designed the Gorax, which he portrayed with both a stop-motion model as well as himself in costume. A scene shot for the film but deleted had Mace come across a group of large flowers. He sticks his hand in one of them, which then tries to pull him underground. This was replaced in the final film with a scene of Mace sticking his hand into a tree. The film also originally had a different ending in which the characters dance in snow. Production Designer Joe Johnston commented on the film's special effects: "The effects we did were pretty primitive. We did forced perspectives and glass paintings, back-to-basics things that had been around since the 1920s. George just told us to go out there and have some fun."
During production, Lucasfilm provided Warwick Davis and Eric Walker with a film camera, feeling that it would be educational for the two. Their on-set tutor had the idea for them to make a documentary about the making of The Ewok Adventure. Davis and Walker, calling themselves W&W Productions, proceeded to shoot behind-the-scenes footage, which they edited in their hotel room using Lucasfilm equipment. The documentary wasn't publicly released at the time, and was thought of as a private "home movie" for the two. When the Ewok films debuted on DVD in 2004, Eric Walker expressed his disappointment with the DVD's lack of extras, and felt that the Ewok Adventure documentary should have been included. In July 2006, Walker announced on his website that he would publish a book about working with George Lucas entitled Growing up on Skywalker Ranch. In 2011, he opened a Kickstarter project to raise funds to complete the book—by then retitled Growing Up in a Galaxy Far, Far Away. The campaign was successful, raising well over the original goal. One of the gifts for donating to the project was a DVD of the Ewok Adventure documentary. On November 25, 2014 (the 30th anniversary of the first airing of Caravan of Courage), Walker posted the documentary on his YouTube channel.
The Ewok Adventure debuted on ABC on November 25, 1984 as the "ABC Sunday Night Movie". Some radio stations broadcast a simultaneous audio track in order to create a stereo experience for viewers. It received the second-highest ratings that year for an ABC movie. It later aired on the Disney Channel. The film was also given a theatrical release in Europe under the title Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure. For the ending credits of the French edition of the film, the Peter Bernstein score was substituted with an original song by French singer Dorothée.
Beginning in 1984, Random House released a series of tie-in children's books that continued the adventures of the Ewoks from the film, many of which also used the subtitle "An Ewok Adventure." In 1985, two children's book adaptations were released: Random House's The Ewoks and the Lost Children and Buena Vista Records's book-and-record The Ewok Adventure. In 1986, Lucasfilm released an official soundtrack, which included selections from Peter Bernstein's scores for both Ewok films.
On November 23, 2004, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox released the film on DVD—this time with its theatrical title of Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure. The DVD presents the film in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio with a Dolby Digital 2.0 English audio track and English subtitles. The release was billed as Star Wars: Ewok Adventures, a "double feature" of Caravan of Courage and its sequel, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. The disc itself is double-sided, featuring one film on each side. It featured no extras, only the films themselves.
The film was nominated for Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Children's Programming" and "Outstanding Special Visual Effects," winning the latter. The New York Times commented that the film's set pieces were "handled with skill," and that "Mr. Korty's direction of the photography and Peter Bernstein's martial score, out of the school of John Williams, help immeasurably in transforming rather ordinary scenes into settings of foreboding." ABC initially expressed interest in having the film be the pilot for a TV series, though Lucas wasn't interested. However, a sequel—Ewoks: The Battle for Endor—was filmed in the summer of 1985 and aired that November on ABC. It picks up not long after the first film, and focuses on Cindel and the Ewoks' battle against a group of pirates. In late 1985, Lucas told Starlog that further Ewok films were planned, and both Warwick Davis and Eric Walker believed that a third film was in the works. However, as Lucas later recalled "We made two, and were going to do a third, but they became very expensive to make."
During the Celebration IV opening ceremonies, the cast of "Star Wars in 30 Minutes" performed a skit called "Lucasfilm in Five Minutes 1983-2005", in which they re-enacted segments or imitated elements from all major Lucasfilm productions from 1983 to 2005. Both Ewok films were included in the act. In 2009, StarWars.com celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Ewok films with a series of articles covering various aspects of each. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards had a Caravan of Courage poster in his office while making that film, reportedly as a reminder of past Star Wars spin-off films.
The film was classified as C-canon in the Holocron continuity database, and was officially set in 3 ABY. Producer Thomas G. Smith claimed that the film shows a young Ewok playing with a toy AT-AT, which would indicate that the Galactic Empire had been on Endor by that point. Eric Walker has said that Smith told him that the crew saw the film as being set 150 years after Return of the Jedi. Leland Chee considered using this date for the Holocron, but ultimately rejected it due to Wicket's youthful appearance. Lucasfilm's canon system was completely reorganized following the 2012 Disney buyout. As of April 25, 2014, only the six episodic films, The Clone Wars movie and TV series, and anything going forward are to be considered canon.
In the novel Tyrant's Test, Cindel is shown to have become a reporter on Coruscant; during the Yevethan crisis, Cindel receives the so-called Plat Mallar tapes from Admiral Drayson, and leaks the story of the only survivor of the Yevethan attack of Polneye. In the novel Legacy of the Force: Fury, Allana's entertainment monitor is displaying an entertainment broadcast, "In which Ewoks spoke Basic and befriended shipwrecked little girls". Star Wars Battlefront's "Survivors of Endor" map includes the Gorax cave, complete with rearing spiders and an empty cage hanging from the ceiling.
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Many other unidentified creatures, real, or mythical, are depicted in Logray's hut murals
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