Petty Crime: Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure

Many career criminals start with petty crime. Most arsonists start their flaming enterprise by setting fire to small matchboxes and most murderers begin their career by torturing woodland creatures.

George Lucas’ earliest documented crime was Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, though it is for his subsequent acts of gross criminality against cinema that he has become best known.

Return of the Jedi is rarely remembered for the outstanding space battle over the moon of Endor, or the Vader vs. Luke climax (though it may be now the Blu Ray version has been released). It is purely and simply memorable to most fans (negatively) for the Ewoks. The small teddy bear people who lived on the moon below the newly rebuilt Death Star. Up until the release of Jedi, George Lucas was pretty much considered a visonary. With Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back he had cemented his place in history as a really exciting filmmaker. The future felt as though it were in very safe hands. However, the Ewoks’ appearance in Return of the Jedi raised a few eyebrows.

The film that George Lucas chose next (as producer and writer) was An Ewok Adventure (renamed to Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure for overseas theatrical release). Thus began the spate of petty crime that would turn into unbridled evil over the next twenty years.

Lucas conceived of the idea of an Ewoks hour long television special, but was extremely hesitant to let the production be handled by anyone outside of Lucasfilm. Lucas had had his fingers burned on the critically disastrous Star Wars Holiday Special some years earlier when he let someone else handle his baby. He determined that he had enough of a story to make an Ewok adventure into a two hour TV movie; An Ewok Adventure, and intended to ensure that this time he had total control over the production, an idea that today would scare the hell out of anyone, but in 1984 probably sounded awesome.

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Caravan of Courage is a basic story. On the forest moon of Endor, the Starcruiser of the Towani family lies wrecked. The Towani family (Catarine, Jeremitt, Mace, and Cindel) are stranded. When Catarine and Jeremitt are taken by a giant mouse-faced monster (The Gorax), the children are found by the an Ewok and they all make friends and eventually go on a quest to rescue the parents from the mouse-faced monster. The film debuted as a holiday television special, airing on ABC on November 25, 1984 and was released overseas in the cinema.

The main thing that stands out about Caravan of Courage is just how disgustingly cutesy and saccharine sweet it is. There should be a warning for diabetics on each scene featuring Wicket bonding with the girl Cindel. In fact just watching any of these scenes is enough to make you want to vomit your organs out of your nose.

As a children’s film it is fairly unremarkable. There are monsters, some adventure and some giant rubber spiders on strings. However, the main problem with it is that you are hoping that the Ewoks fall under a tractor, ingest large amounts of dynamite or walk into a chemical fire. Sadly, none of these events come to pass and instead you are forced to watch them have chin wags with each other in an unintelligible language.

I just get so lonely and depressed living on my own

I just get so lonely and depressed living on my own

This makes for painful viewing as you wait for subtitles that never arrive and you have to rely on the body language of the actors. While an interesting experiment of what life would be like if you were deaf or an alien, it isn’t film making as we know it.  Instead of subtitles, we are offered a narration which must have been done by the grandfather from the Werther’s Original advert. His voice is so faux wise, old and gentle that it borders on sarcastic and patronising.

A second Ewok film followed in 1985; The Battle for Endor. It wasn’t much better. Luck was on Lucas’ side however, his other baby during the 1980’s, Indiana Jones, was in fine health.A mighty franchise that was as universally adored as Star Wars. This meant that both Ewoks films went totally un-noticed and more importantly, were never spoken of again. Even when Lucas tried to mess it up with the Young Indiana Jones TV series, he was lucky enough to have good enough writers working on the show (such as Frank Darabont) to ensure that the general quality wouldn’t suffer too badly and ruin the eventual legacy. There was also the fact that no one actually watched it.

Like most murderers, Lucas wanted to be caught and found out. He first tried as a producer with Howard the Duck and Tucker: The Man and his Dreams. Neither showed even a blip on the reputational radar as he had Star Wars in the bank. Lucas went into a punch drunk sugar high and began to realise that he had so much credit in the bank with Star Wars fans that he could do what he wanted and not get caught.

That was until 1999 when his luck ran out. He was eventually caught and even though he left many clues throughout the Star Wars Special Editions, it was Star Wars Episode I:The Phantom Menace that would finally show the world what he was capable of.

But that is another story.

Originally posted 2012-01-30 15:33:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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