|Home world||Forest Moon of Endor|
|Distinctions||Primeval, curious, friendly|
Ewoks are a fictional race of small, mammaloid bipeds that appear in the Star Wars universe. They are hunter-gatherers resembling teddy-bears that inhabit the forest moon of Endor and live in various arboreal huts and other simple dwellings. They first appeared in the 1983 film Return of the Jedi and have since appeared in two made-for-television films, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985), as well as a short-lived animated series and several books and games.
Concept and creation
George Lucas created the Ewoks because he wanted Return of the Jedi to feature a tribe of some primitive creatures that bring down the technological Empire. He had originally intended the scenes to be set on the Wookiee home planet, but as the film series evolved, the Wookiees became technologically skilled. Lucas designed a new species instead, and as Wookiees were tall, he made Ewoks short. In addition, he also based the Ewoks' defeat of the Galactic Empire on the actions of the Viet Cong guerrillas who menaced American soldiers during the Vietnam War. The Ewok are named after the Miwok, a Native American tribe, indigenous to the Redwood forest in which the Endor scenes were filmed for Return of the Jedi, near the San Rafael location of Lucas' Skywalker Ranch. In the film, the name "Ewok" is never actually spoken, but it appears in both the script and the closing credits.
Using the image of the Shih Tzu, a dog species that was the Emperor of China's personal lap dog for over 2,000 years, the Ewok was developed by renowned make-up artist Stuart Freeborn. As presented in the films, Ewoks appear as stocky, sapient bipeds which stand about one meter tall. They have flat faces, are completely covered in fur, and have large jewel-like eyes. Both their fur and their eyes come in a variety of earth tones, primarily brown, white, grey, gold, and black. Despite their small size, Ewoks are strong; in the climactic battle scene of Return of the Jedi, they are shown physically overpowering and once even throwing Imperial Stormtroopers, though this detail is not consistent throughout the film. Ewoks live high among the trees of their home moon's forests, in villages built on platforms between the closely spaced trees.
An "Ewokese" language was created for the films by Return of the Jedi’s sound designer Ben Burtt. On the commentary track for the DVD of Return of the Jedi, Burtt explains that the language is based on Kalmyk, a language spoken by the Kalmyk people of Russia. Burtt heard the language in a documentary and liked its sound, which seems very alien to Western ears. After some research, he identified an 80-year old Kalmyk refugee. Burtt recorded her telling folk stories in her native language, and then used the recordings as a basis for sounds that became the Ewok language and were performed by voice actors who imitated the old woman's voice in different styles. For the scene in which C-3PO speaks Ewokese, actor Anthony Daniels worked with Burtt and invented words, based on the Kalmyk recordings.
Appearance in Return of the Jedi
The Ewoks are involved in a large portion of the final installment in Lucas' original Star Wars trilogy. When the Empire begins operations on the moon of Endor, prior to the events depicted in the film, it ignores the primitive Ewoks. Princess Leia, part of a Rebel strike team, then befriends the Ewok Wicket W. Warrick, a scout from said village, and is taken to meet the other Ewoks. The rest of the strike team are accidentally trapped by Ewoks and brought to the village.
The Ewoks worship the protocol droid C-3PO, thinking he is a god due to his shininess and gold coverings and a later display of power arranged by Luke Skywalker through The Force. C-3PO tells the Council of Elders the adventures of the rebel heroes Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. The Ewoks accept the Rebels into their tribe and ally themselves to their cause. They then help in the ground battle to destroy the Imperial shield generator on the forest floor, and their primitive weapons fell the Imperial Stormtroopers and the AT-ST walkers of the Empire. This assistance paves the way to victory at the Battle of Endor. Later that night, the Ewoks are shown holding a huge celebration.
The word ewok is not mentioned anywhere in the movie except the end titles, nor are any individuals (such as Wicket or Paploo) referred to by name.
- George Lucas, commentary track on the Return of the Jedi DVD.
- George Lucas, "making of" documentary on the Return of the Jedi 2004 DVD release.
- Eric P. Nash (26 January 1997). "The Names Came From Earth". New York Times.
- "Star Wars Make-Up Artist Stuart Freeborn Dies". Sky News. Retrieved February 8, 2013
- "Makeup master Stuart Freeborn of 'Star Wars' dead at age 98". CNN. Retrieved February 8, 2013
- Ben Burtt, DVD commentary on The Return of the Jedi.
- ""Return of the Jedi (1983) Trivia"". Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- Ewok in the Official StarWars.com Encyclopedia.
- Ewok on Wookieepedia: a Star Wars wiki
- Action Figure Archive - Ewoks cartoon series action figure guide.