- Directed by John Korty
- November 25, 1984
The Ewoks agree to help two human children save their parents from a giant on the forest moon of Endor.
Before Rogue One. Before Solo: A Star Wars Story. Before the sequel or prequel trilogy there was Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure. Not the greatest of live action Star Wars iterations but by far are not the worst. Have you seen Last Jedi?
Caravan of Courage was aimed at an audience of children and not the general family market. This is a television film from the early 80s and came out shortly after Return of the Jedi. It features a group of Ewoks going on an adventure to help save the mother and father in a family that has crash landed on the moon of Endor. This movie would’ve been a really good time to explain away that dress that Princess Leia had in Jedi. Then again I am not sure where on the timeline this occurs.
Caravan of Courage is narrated by Burl Ives and that alone gives a weird Rankin/Bass feel to the whole thing. Ives was famously Sam the Snowman in the classic special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and whenever I hear his voice I think of that special as well as the general Rankin/Bass. Also concerned why they felt a strong need for a narrator? Whatever story was to be or could be told should have had only the Ewoks in it. This was after all their world. Human characters for the audience to identify with or the story to be told through were not necessary.
The thing is the movie really works when it focuses on the Ewoks. I think perhaps the kids should have been jettisoned altogether and a story focusing solely on the Ewoks should’ve been crafted in its place. The Ewoks are characters you’re familiar with and the way they act you would be able to get what was going on. In Star Wars characters that do not speak understandably yet you understand on some level are not uncommon. Chewbacca and R2-D2 are two of the most prominent examples.
Eric Walker who plays Mace just could not act in this story. He sounds like he was complaining the whole time. I am not attempting to be insulting here but either some judicious direction or an on-set acting coach would have been advisable. Based on his dress in this they were aiming for ‘Luke Skywalker’ but got Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace instead.
Aubree Miller as Mace’s sister Cindel was just wooden. I am not expecting Emmy worthy from a child actress, but she looked like she was reading the lines rather than acting. When she is dispensing her lines the shots are tight and often static. I would not be surprised in someone was just out frame holding up her lines to read.
In Caravan of Courage the Ewoks must help the kids rescue their parents who were captured by a giant. Yes, a giant. This giant wondered all the way from the distant mountains to the forests land of Endor to kidnap two people just to eat. I think we all have our limits on how far we will travel for a good snack. Were there no space people or other creatures between the mountains and the forests to snack on? Maybe some Duloks?
This is a fantasy film and much less a science-fiction film. Science-fiction elements are very sparse throughout to the point you might actually miss them. Which raises the question of how were the Ewoks so impressed with C-3PO floating through the air? They encounter a magic pool of water and use a magic top that produces visions, but a gold dude floating is “Wow!” moment? Magic appears very common here and much more impressive than Force levitation.
Visually Caravan of Courage is not bad. When it comes to the special effects used they are not bad for that era on television. Now with everything being done on a keyboard they may seem a little dated but some of the composite shots to give grander vistas to things still work rather well.
The story itself is so so and feels padded out. Almost like things were added to stretch out the journey from the Ewok village to the giant’s mountain castle. Reportedly this was shopped around originally as a half hour special, but nobody was interested. However they were interested in a TV movie and here we are. And it shows. The events between the capture of the parents and their rescue feel extraneous and unconnected to the actual story.
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure is from a simpler time in Star Wars. For the Star Wars connoisseur, I recommend this but for the general viewer you can move on.