We have seen the first episodes of Willow: a different fantasy that revives the myth of the eighties


Medieval fantasy sells like never before. The seed that Peter Jackson planted at the beginning of the two thousand —via Tolkien— was watered by the adaptation of the work of George RR Martín. The stem of fantasy is now a tree from which all production companies intend to reap their fruits, but along the way, their conventions have undergone changes. Some will say that it has matured, although I prefer to talk about trends rather than maturation. Maturation is a misleading term, as it can lead to value judgments and comparisons that often link “adult” content to some level of intrinsic quality. What I’m getting at is that fantasy has followed its own path in the audiovisual, since that path has been marked, in the last decade, by Game of Thrones. There we have, for example, the evolution of The Witcher (the Netflix series), which in its second season was crowned, abandoning the adventurous spirit that had characterized its first iteration. Another clear example is found in The Wheel of Timean adaptation that was left halfway, in part, because he wanted to play a game that was not his.

Beyond their success, the common denominator of all these products can be found in the seriousness that they try to imprint on their plots, a seriousness that tends to flee from the lightness, belittling a quality that has elevated countless series and movies to the category of success. Lightness is not at all an easy thing to balance. But it is, of course, one of the main ingredients of Willow, a franchise that, by tone, is in the antipodes of current fantasy.

The genesis of Willow can be found in the previous great stage of the emergence of audiovisual fantasy, a time in which cinemas received, year after year, proposals of the genre that resorted to a series of common codes, and that filled the billboards with color. from the eighties: The Neverending Story, Inside the Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, Legend, Dark Crystal or Lady Hawk, are a sample of the strength that the genre possessed three decades ago. Willow was one of the last guests at the party, a proposal with which George Lucas intended to consecrate a third trilogy (after the successes of Star Wars and Indiana Jones —which had not yet released The Last Crusade—). He didn’t get it.

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His universe, clearly influenced by the fantastic stereotypes of the time, and based on clear references to Tolkien’s work (Lucas’s initial intention was to adapt The Hobbit), presents a world of classic Manichaeism, scourged by the power of a fearsome witch and her hosts of evil, a harmless but willful protagonist, a prophecy and an anti-hero with something of a scoundrel and a lot of good person. A cocktail carefully calculated to build a family story in which adventure was the main ingredient.

The result was a film that did not succeed at the box office —it was far from Doctor Jones and the Skywalker family— but over the years it has carved a place for itself in the hearts of the children who were kind enough to visit their world. However, I don’t think it is a tape to claim as a forgotten jewel. On the contrary, I believe that it is a film that should be viewed with the proper eye if one does not want to find digestion harder than expected. Willow can be choked by more than one due to the clumsiness that the film itself exhibits, and exhibited, but it cannot be ignored to what extent, the current fantasy, has moved away from the codes that were handled at the time when this was born. product. Thus, More than one viewer little versed in eighties fantasy may be shocked by the tone of the original film; Seeing the action hero of the adventure turned into a snowball rolling down a hill is not commonplace in modern day fantasy. However, Madmardigan rolling down the hill (or dressed as a woman), the Brownies, the Nelwyin and even the Trolls, contribute to building a unique tone that is difficult to transfer to the current scene.

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However, at Disney they seem aware that Willow is not a product that will benefit from joining the currents of contemporary fantasy. Its myth, which has elevated the film to cult status, is directly related to the management of lightness, with a white humor that, on occasion, flirts with slapstick, and with a taste for the sense of wonder that delivers the best scenes on the tape. Perhaps, for this reason, in its first bars, The new Disney+ series seems to me like a job that, from the outset, seems not to want to take itself very seriously; his greatest virtue so far (and something that may end up becoming his greatest hallmark). Willow is seeming to me a series that is not afraid of ridicule and, although that may cost her more than one upset, there is no doubt that she is her main weapon.

The plot, as such, starts years after what was witnessed in the 88 movie. A new group of heroes, led by Willow, must embark on an adventure that, once again, revolves around the figure of Elora Danan (the princess who, according to the prophecy, would end the reign of Bavmorda). The new company, as disparate as it is full of current clichés, begins its journey in the world that emerged after the defeat of Queen Bavmorda. References to the original work are constant, and the cast seems to do everything they can to bring back familiar characters. But the core of his approach seems to reside in group dynamics; the vehicle that the writers seem to have chosen to update the particular tone of the film that gives the series its title.

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And I say update with all the intention because, for the moment, it seems to me that the series wants to embrace that lightness that characterized the eighties fantasy by adopting a kind of humor totally valid that, however, does not usually proliferate in the current fantasy. Do not expect, therefore, a constant search for the epic, do not expect characters of those who strive to be deep, or dirt (I have a huge problem with their spotless clothing), or decorations at the level of the latest great productions of the genre, just as there seems to be no room, at the moment, for elaborate plots with unexpected twists; because Willow points to a different path, one founded on the lightness of the joke and the adventure that, at times, tries to flirt with wonder.

I do not think that, on this occasion, lightness is what elevates the proposal, since I have already come across moments that, in my opinion, go too far, and with action sequences, more than questionable, that seem to confuse that lightness. carelessly However, despite all his clumsiness (which seems to me not few), has managed to surprise me, precisely, for aiming wisely at a destination far from the codes of modern fantasyand for choosing a path that, up to a certain point, may seem extravagant, but that due to its modesty, and proper, has managed to make me enjoy its first episodes more than expected.

We’ll see how far Willow goes with her new company..