|Ewoks: The Battle for Endor|
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor is a 1985 made-for-TV film set in the Star Wars galaxy. The film focuses on Cindel, the little girl from the first film, who—after being orphaned—joins her friends Noa, Wicket and the other Ewoks, in protecting their village. Together they must defeat the evil Marauders who have taken control of the forest moon of Endor.
Described by author John Baxter as "a dry run for Willow," The Battle for Endor is the second TV film spin-off of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and is a sequel to the first, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure. The film was produced concurrent with a a spin-off TV series which also focuses on the Ewoks.
The film is set sometime after the Ewoks animated series, and sometime between Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Nearly six months have passed since the events of the first film. The Towani family's starcruiser is almost completely fixed, and Jeremitt is putting the final touches on the craft.
Cindel and Wicket have been walking in the forest together, picking flowers. Wicket now apparently knows Basic. He seems to have picked it up from Cindel and her family. However, according to Star Wars officials, this may be a different language she taught him, and it is only translated to English/Basic for the viewer to understand (see Alleged continuity issues below).
On the forest moon of Endor, the Towani family (Jeremitt, Catarine, Mace, and Cindel) prepare to leave. Repairs are nearing completion on their crashed star cruiser. As Jeremitt works on the ship]], the Ewok village is attacked by a group of marauders (the Sanyassan Marauders, who had crash landed on Endor from Sanyassa) led by Terak and his witch-like sorceress (a Nightsister who escaped from Dathomir, according to earlier Imperial survey by Pfilbee Jhorn) Charal. Many Ewoks are killed, along with Catrine and Mace. Terak confronts Jeremitt at the ship, wanting "the power," the crystal oscillator for the star cruiser. Terak takes the device and kills Jeremitt. Cindel escapes while Ewoks are gathered up to be taken back to the Marauders' castle. Cindel's escape is short-lived, though, as she is captured by Charal and placed in a prisoner carriage, where she is reunited with Wicket W. Warrick.
With the other Ewoks' help, the two escape from the carriage, pursued by a few marauders. They hide out in a cave in a nearby mountain. Wicket builds a hang glider for them to escape from the only other cave opening. A Mantigrue (possibly one of Morag's) in the cave is disturbed by their activities and attacks them, taking Cindel as it flies from the cave mouth. Wicket follows with the glider and saves her, though they both crash back to the forest below. They hide again in a hollow tree and awaken the next morning to meet Teek, a speedy creature also native to the forest moon. Learning that they need food, Teek takes Wicket and Cindel to the home of Noa Briqualon, a Human man who has also been stranded there. When he arrives home to find Wicket and Cindel in his house, uninvited (at least not by him), he is angered and throws them out. Teek sneaks them some food, using his incredible speed, which Noa allows, since he really is not the "mean old man" he had appeared to be. When Wicket and Cindel try to start a fire for warmth (which, uncontrolled, could burn down a lot more than just a few trees), Noa invites them in, using that as an excuse. That night, Cindel has a dream that the marauders have come for her. She awakens with a start, and once again, Noa shows his fatherly nature in calming her.
At the marauders' castle, Charal tries to use her magic to draw "the power" from the energy cell, to no avail. She is ordered by Terak to find Cindel, for she must know how to use "the power." Noa returns home later in the day with a surprise—a new bed for Wicket and Cindel. They return the favor with a surprise of their own—enough of a type of flower to make a pie. He allows them to stay another night. When Noa leaves the next day, they follow him and discover where he goes each day. Noa has a starship of his own, which he is repairing. It appears that he and his friend Salak crashed on the planet years before. The crash destroyed the crystal for their power drive, and Salak went to find another, never to return. Now, Noa has the ship repaired as best he can. All he needs is a power drive crystal—an energy cell like the one Telak captured from the Towanis.
That evening, Cindel tells Noa of her family and their adventures thus far on Endor. As Noa, Wicket, and Teek sleep the next morning, Cindel is awakened by the sound of a woman singing a song her mother used to sing to her. She follows the voice to find a beautiful woman. Wicket finds that Cindel is gone and he and the others race to her, but arrive too late. The woman transforms into Charal, who takes Cindel prisoner. Cindel is taken before Terak and ordered to activate "the power," but when she cannot, she and Charal are both imprisoned with the Ewoks. Noa, Wicket, and Teek make their way to the castle to free Cindel and the other Ewoks. In the cells, Charal tells Cindel that it was Noa's friend Salak (now lying dead, as a skeleton, in the cellblock) who spoke of "the power" to be found in the energy cells. Terak killed him for not turning over that power. Outside, the trio of unlikely heroes sneaks into the castle. They make their way to the cellblock and free Cindel and the other Ewoks. A marauder sounds an alarm bell, and the marauders head for the cellblock, even as Noa blasts a hole in the wall to escape through.
As they are escaping, Cindel mentions the fate of Salak, prompting Noa to take the energy cell with them. Terak frees Charal to help him find the ship Noa is repairing. The marauders trace them back to the ship, where Wicket leads the Ewoks in defense of the ship and Noa tries to get the ship up and running using the energy cell from the Towani family's spacecraft. The Ewoks put up a valiant effort, but are being beaten until Noa gets the ship running and they use the ship's laser cannons to fend off the marauders. When Cindel goes to save Wicket, though, she is captured by Terak, even as the other marauders retreat. Terak and Noa meet. Cindel is released, but Noa and Terak will fight for the energy cell. Noa is nearly killed, until Wicket fires a rock from his sling, striking the ring Terak is wearing on a string around his neck. The ring is the one that allowed Charal to change forms. He took it from her to keep her in raven form so she could track the group without betraying him. Now it proves to be his downfall, as its power burns him to a crisp. Charal swoops down and reclaims the ring. Shortly thereafter, goodbyes are said and then Noa and Cindel leave the forest moon of Endor aboard Noa's starship. They will travel the stars together until the Battle of Endor before later settling down in a modest home as a "family" in the Mid-Rim. Cindel will go on to become a successful reporter and editor for Coruscant NewsFeed and Noa will later retire from trading.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Wilford Brimley .... Noa
- Warwick Davis .... Wicket
- Aubree Miller .... Cindel
- Siân Phillips .... Queen Charal
- Carel Struycken .... King Terak
- Niki Botelho .... Teek
- Paul Gleason .... Jeremitt
- Eric Walker .... Mace
- Marianne Horine .... Young Witch
- Daniel Frishman .... Deej
- Tony Cox .... Willy
- Pam Grizz .... Shodu
- Roger Johnson .... Lieutenant (General Yavid)
- Michael Pritchard .... Card Player #1 (a Sanyassan)
- Johnny Weissmuller Jr. .... Card Player #2 (a Sanyassan)
- Malumba Anderson .... Marauder
- Thomas Calabrese .... Marauder (as Tom Calabrese)
- Scott Couper .... Marauder
- Tom Cowan .... Marauder
- Dan Cunningham .... Marauder
- Charles Davis .... Marauder
- Mike Dito .... Marauder
- Scott Ferry .... Marauder
- Michael Franti .... Marauder
- Andre Keys .... Marauder
- Jerry Keys .... Marauder
- Fred Martin .... Marauder
- Brendan Reitz .... Marauder
- Peter Reitz .... Marauder
- Marques Strane .... Marauder
- Peter Thiebeaux .... Marauder
- Bill Tilman .... Marauder
- Darryl Henriques .... Voice Characterization (Wicket) (voice)
- Sydney Walker .... Voice Characterization (Deej) (voice)
- Kevin Pollack .... Voice Characterization (voice)
- Ken Grantham .... Voice Characterization (voice)
- Mark Dodson .... Voice Characterization (voice)
- Rick Cimino .... Voice Characterization (voice)
- Dawn Abbey .... Ewok
- Anthony Bagnarol .... Ewok
- Debbie Lee Carrington .... Weechee
- Mary Henning .... Ewok
- Bethany Jewett .... Ewok
- Michael Lipsky .... Ewok
- Steve Morgan .... Ewok
- Matthew Roloff .... Ewok
- Irving Scible Jr. .... Ewok
- Judy Weaver .... Ewok
- Unknown .... Catarine
Development and writingEdit
Following the success of Caravan of Courage, both on US TV, and in its theatrical release in the UK and other locations, Star Wars creator George Lucas decided that he wanted to create a second film, taking place not long after the first. His wish to create a sequel was also in part because he wanted to create a film that centered on someone his own child's age to be a role model for kids. His child, Amanda, was a girl, so he decided that he wanted the film to center around the young girl character of Cindel Towani. To do this, he needed a plot device to allow the film to focus on her, and her adventures.
This situation led him and the eventual production crew to the decision of having her family to be killed off at the beginning of the film, leaving her as an orphan, to be raised by the Ewoks, and eventually, the old man named Noa Briqualon. Another inspiration for this second film was the film Heidi, which Lucas had viewed with Amanda not long after the first Ewok film was released. He wanted to create a film modeled after the story presented in Heidi. (See Production section below for more details.) Co-director, Ken Wheat explains the production and inspiration of the film in an interview with EON Magazine:
- "Lucas guided the creation of the story over the course of two four-hour sessions we had with him," Wheat explains. "He'd just watched 'Heidi' with his daughter the weekend before these took place, and the story idea he pushed was having the little girl from the first Ewok TV movie become an orphan who ends up living with a grumpy old hermit in the woods."
Making a great family film was the ultimate goal of the brothers.
- "We'd been thinking about the adventure films we'd liked as kids, like 'Swiss Family Robinson' and 'The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad', so we suggested having space marauders, which was fine with George -- as long as they were 7 feet tall, of course!" Wheat quips. "The rest of the brainstorming was done along those lines. Joe Johnston (the production designer and second unit director) and Phil Tippett (the creature supervisor) were involved in the second day's story session, and they contributed an assortment of bits and pieces."
As for the man of all things Star Wars, Lucas’ involvement primarily was in the design and editing stages according to Wheat.
Ken and Jim Wheat got the job as directors for the film despite telling George Lucas that they thought Caravan of Courage had been flawed and disappointing. Ken Wheat reiterated this in 2004, stating that the two felt that Caravan of Courage "sucked." The film was shot in the summer of 1985 in Marin County, California, and was directed by Jim and Ken Wheat, Executive Produced by George Lucas, and had a script by Ken and Jim Wheat, which was based on a story written by George Lucas.
Both Ewok films were some of the last intensive stop-motion animation work Industrial Light & Magic produced. In the early 80s, the time-honored technique of hand-manipulating an articulated puppet one frame at a time was being replaced by go-motion animation. Go-motion was one step more advanced, and featured puppets with motorized articulation that moved while the camera shutter was open. This captured the all-important motion blur in the otherwise static puppet, eliminating the harsh staccato movement often associated with stop-motion.
The budgets of the Ewok films were such that go-motion was simply too expensive for the projects. Instead, the classic art of stop-motion was used to realize such creatures as the condor dragon, the blurrgs, and the boar-wolves.
The Ewok movies proved an opportunity for ILM to hone a new technique in photographing matte paintings. Long before the use of digital technology to create and merge matte paintings with live action photography, the effects artists had to use projection techniques to blend together these elements. This involved aiming a projector in such a way so that a separate camera could photograph the projected live image with a painting done on glass. Such methods always incurred a loss in picture quality, since film would be exposed and re-exposed again during the compositing process. When movies are shown theatrically, the rich colors of film projection usually meant that such picture degradation was not too visible. Television, however, was not as forgiving, resulting in noticeable variation in colors between the painting and the live action. Since the Ewok movies were destined for television, a different approach was used.
ILM refined a process called latent image matte painting. This technique requires shooting the live action with a section of the camera's lens blocked off. That blocked off area would remain unexposed, and a painting would be crafted to occupy that space. The film would then be rewound, the blocked area exposed, and the painting photographed. Since the painting now existed on the original film used to shoot the live action, there would be no generational quality loss. The picture quality was exceptional, resulting in some of ILM's most astounding matte paintings.
Peter Bernstein—who had composed the music for Caravan of Courage—returned as composer on Battle for Endor. The score also features a reprise of a few notes from John Williams' "Wicket's Theme". The film's soundtrack was released as an LP in 1986 by Lucasfilm Ltd. The release was known simply as: Ewoks.
The film debuted as a holiday television special, airing on ABC on November 24, 1985. It was accompanied by a "parent's discretion" warning due to the violent nature of the film and the distressing theme of the death of Cindel's family. The film was released on VHS and Laserdisc in 1990 through MGM. On November 23, 2004, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox released the film on DVD. 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 Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. The disc itself is double-sided, featuring one film on each side.
The DVD release featured no extras, only the films themselves. Eric Walker (Mace) has expressed disappointment with the DVD's lack of extras  and both he and Warwick Davis have stated in interviews that they would be happy to record a cast commentary for a DVD release, if a more elaborate release ever occurred.
In the original TV broadcast of the film, the end credits rolled over the final scene, but all home video releases of the film have the end credits rolling after the final scene, over a traditional black background. When Cindel has a nightmare about the Marauders coming into Noa's house to get her, the scene where Terak pops out of Noa's bed was cut in a version for television. In this television version, she wakes after the men break in.
In a home video release, the following two scenes were deleted: when being chased by Terak's men, Wicket races for Noa's house but Noa tells him the only chance they have got is the star cruiser. Then a scene that happened shortly after where the men went inside and burned down Noa's house. Cindel's lines: "Do something, Wicket! Use your sling! You hit the ring!" have been altered to "Do something, Wicket! Do something!" for the DVD release.
In 1986, Random House published a children's book adaptation of The Battle for Endor called The Ring, the Witch, and the Crystal: An Ewok Adventure. The book was written by Cathy East Dubowski and illustrated by Toni Scribner The same year, Buena Vista Records published a read-along storybook based on the film. It fills in some of the gaps in the story and at times contains different dialogue than the film.
In July 2006, Eric Walker announced on his official website that he will soon publish a book about working with George Lucas entitled Growing up on Skywalker Ranch. The book will reveal new information about George Lucas and the behind the scenes work on the two Ewok films. It will include a collectible DVD of the making of the Ewok films. This DVD will feature a never-before-seen behind the scenes documentary that Eric and co-star Warwick Davis shot on the set of Caravan of Courage.
In a 1985 interview with Starlog magazine, Warwick Davis speculated that a third Ewok film was in the works, but such a project was never produced.
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. Bonnie Burton listed Noa Briqualon and Teek as #7 on her list of "10 Unlikely Unleashed Figures", though she felt that Teek would make a better figure than Noa.
While the original Star Wars trilogy only had the Force, magic and mysticism were quite prevalent in the Ewok films. Witches, wizards, giants and fairies filled the forests of Endor. Logray uses a magical spinning lantern to divine the location of the missing Towani parents. An enchanted lake momentarily traps Mace behind an unbreakable barrier. The Ewok wizard Kaink carries a scepter capable of mesmerizing animals. In Ewoks: Battle for Endor, the evil witch Charal dons a magical ring that allows her to change shape into a raven. This magic and mysticism could however potentially be explained by alternative uses of the Force.
The Ewok films introduced a variety of lifeforms to Endor. The giant Gorax had packs of deadly boar-wolves that prowled the forest floor. Hunting the skies of the moon is the leathery condor dragon. The Marauders ride atop dim-witted blurrgs, dinosaur-like beasts of burden. The scout Noa has a little rodent-like companion named Teek who could run at blindingly fast speeds. The films also had more mundane animals—ferrets, llamas and horses—indicating that Humans are not the only life-forms that Earth shares with the galaxy far, far away.
Alleged continuity issuesEdit
Although George Lucas wrote the story and was quite involved with the production of the Ewok films, they are classified as C-canon in the Holocron continuity database.
Disputes in Star Wars fandom have arisen over the fact that the official Star Wars continuity places the two Ewok Films before Return of the Jedi; a timeline published in the Star Wars Insider magazine shows the Ewok films occurring a short time before Return of the Jedi. Although the films make extensive use of Ewokese, the language developed by Ben Burtt for the Ewok species, Wicket appears to learn Basic in The Battle for Endor through his association with Cindel. This would seemingly create a continuity error with Return of the Jedi, since Wicket is shown to not understand Leia Organa's Basic in that film. StarWars.com suggests that Cindel and her family are actually speaking a different language from Basic, and that it was translated into Basic (English) for the benefit of the viewing audience.
The use of what is seemingly Basic by the Ewoks was also seen in the Star Wars: Ewoks animated series, but is understandably "dubbed" Ewokese.
Connections to other mediaEdit
Since the release of The Battle for Endor in 1985, several of the elements from the film have gone on to appear in other works from the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Many times, the characters, locations, or other elements are elaborated on in greater detail.
- Return of the Ewok (1982) is an unreleased film dealing with actor Warwick Davis' transformation into Wicket, as he decides to become an actor.
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) featured the introduction of Wicket and the other Ewoks, in which they help defeat the Imperial Stormtroopers and the Empire, who are guarding a shield generator on the Endor moon. The generator is important in that it protects the second Death Star, which was currently being built above the Endor moon.
- Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) was the first of the two made-for-TV Ewok films. It dealt with the struggles of Mace and Cindel, along with the help from the Ewoks, to find their missing parents, after their ship crashes on the Endor moon.
- Star Wars: Ewoks (1985-1987) was a two-season animated series, featuring the Ewoks. A follow-up to the two films, it incorporated several elements introduced in the two Ewok films, such as the appearance of Queen Izarina of the fairies.
- The Courtship of Princess Leia (1994) was a book by Dave Wolverton, in which Leia is kidnapped, and taken to a planet full of witches, known as the Nightsisters, of which Charal is a member (see below).
- Tyrant's Test (1996). According to the official continuity of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the character of Cindel Towani went on to appear in Michael P. Kube-McDowell's Star Wars book series, The Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy, specifically, in the third novel of the series, Tyrant's Test. In the novel, which is set over ten years after The Battle for Endor, Cindel is shown to have grown to be an intelligent and idealistic woman, who has become a reporter on Coruscant. During the Yevethan crisis, Cindel received the so-called Plat Mallar tapes from Admiral Drayson, and leaked the story of the only survivor of the Yevethan attack of Polneye. The report was meant to garner sympathy among the people of the New Republic and the Senate. It worked. Although the Expanded Universe claims Cindel decided to join the New Republic and go into journalism after witnessing the Battle of Endor, some fans speculate the Battle of Endor must have been over before she and her family crashed (see Alleged Continuity Issues above).
- The Illustrated Star Wars Universe (1997) by Kevin J. Anderson explains the origins of Charal in relation to The Courtship of Princess Leia, in that it reveals that the Nightsisters were a group of rogue Jedi, who learned to twist the force to produce magical results. Since this particular use of The Force contradicted the beliefs of the Jedi order, the Nightsisters were banished from the order, and sent to their own planet. It is revealed that the witch, Charal, who kidnaps Cindel in The Battle for Endor, is one of these Nightsisters, and was once a Jedi.
- HoloNet issue #49 (2002) was an issue of the in-universe news report. In the "regional" section of this issue, an article, entitled "Moddell Starship Search Abandoned," explains that the search has been called off for the rescue of Salak Weet and Noa Briqualon, which had been funded by Salak's father, Jimke Weet. The search was said to have been called off due to the fact that Jimke had to file bankruptcy due to his expenses in the search.
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (2003) is a MMORPG. In the game, when exploring the forest moon of Endor, the player can run across the base of the Sanyassan Marauders, who were originally seen in The Battle for Endor. The player may also encounter the Nightsisters, of which Charal from The Battle for Endor was a member.
- Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds (2004) was a sourcebook in the Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game series of books. In it, with Terak dead, his son Zakul takes over rule of his Marauders. The book gives Terak's bio and stats. It explains Terak's death, and the rise of his son, Zakul, in that, as a footnote, it basically says that anyone wishing to use them in a campaign set after Terak's death can use his son, Zakul, instead.
- On page 155 of the Legacy of the Force novel Fury, Darth Caedus goes to check on his daughter Allana in a secret compartment of the Anakin Solo, in which he finds her asleep and an "entertainment broadcast in which Ewoks spoke Basic and befriended shipwrecked little girls" playing on a viewscreen.
- At one point in the film, a few notes from Wicket's theme from Return of the Jedi can be briefly heard. This is also true for Caravan of Courage.
- The character Teek makes appearances in the opening safety video of Disney's Star Tours attraction.
- The death of General Grievous in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith seems to mirror the death of Terak in this film; both are villains with deep stereotypical villain voices who are caught off guard and attacked in the chest region, after which they die by burning up from the inside.
- According to co-director Ken Wheat, the dragon that chases Wicket, and tries to carry away Cindel was made from pieces of the Rancor from Return of the Jedi.
- The Ewoks' cries of "Aureba!" in the film were later used in the video game Star Wars: Battlefront II for the Ewok cries during the missions on Endor.
- An Abyssin ornament as seen in Jabba's Palace in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi is seen in Terak's fortress as an alarm bell holder.
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