Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure
|Also known as||The Ewok Adventure|
|Screenplay by||Bob Carrau|
|Story by||George Lucas|
|Directed by||John Korty|
|Narrated by||Burl Ives|
|Theme music composer||Peter Bernstein|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer(s)||George Lucas|
|Production location(s)||Marin County, California|
|Running time||97 minutes|
|Distributor||Disney–ABC Domestic Television|
|Followed by||Ewoks: The Battle for Endor|
The Ewok Adventure is a 1984 American television film based in the Star Wars universe, which takes place on the moon of Endor between the events of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. It features the Ewoks, who help two young human siblings as they try to locate their parents.
The film was given a limited international theatrical run, for which it was retitled Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure. It was followed by a sequel, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, in 1985.
On the forest moon of Endor, the Towani family starcruiser lies wrecked. The Towani family (Catarine, Jeremitt, Mace, and Cindel) are stranded. When Catarine and Jeremitt vanish (having been captured by the Gorax), the children are found by the Ewok Deej. After Mace tries to kill them, the Ewoks subdue him and take both children to the Ewoks’ home. There, Cindel and Wicket become friends. Shortly thereafter, the Ewoks kill a boar wolf only to find a life-monitor from one of the Towani parents with the creature.
They seek out the Ewok Logray who informs them that the parents have been taken by the monstrous Gorax, which resides in a deserted, dangerous area. A caravan of Ewoks is formed to help the children find their parents. They meet up with a wistie named Izrina and a boisterous Ewok named Chukha-Trok before finally reaching the lair of the Gorax. They engage the Gorax in battle, freeing Jeremitt and Catarine, but Chukha-Trok is killed. The Gorax is thought destroyed when it is knocked into a chasm, but it takes a final blow from Mace (using Chukha-Trok’s axe) to kill the creature, which tries to climb back up after them. Thus reunited, the Towanis decide to stay with the Ewoks until they can repair the starcruiser, and Izrina leaves to go back to her family.
- Warwick Davis as Wicket W. Warrick
- Aubree Miller as Cindel Towani
- Eric Walker as Mace Towani
- Fionnula Flanagan as Catarine Towani
- Guy Boyd as Jeremitt Towani
- Daniel Frishman as Deej
- Debbie Lee Carrington as Weechee
- Tony Cox as Widdle
- Kevin Thompson as Chukha-Trok
- Margarita Fernández as Kaink
- Pam Grizz as Shodu
- Bobby Bell as Logray
- Burl Ives as Narrator (voice)
- Darryl Henriques as Wicket (voice) (as Daryl Henriquez)
- Sydney Walker as Deej (voice)
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Inspiration and creative control
The original impetus for Caravan of Courage was an idea George Lucas had for a one-hour television special dealing with the Ewoks, but this was eventually expanded into two hours. Lucas had allowed his Star Wars universe to be produced for television six years earlier with the Star Wars Holiday Special which had proved an embarrassment to Lucas. With The Ewok Adventure, Lucas assumed full control over the content and production of the film, to ensure a film of good quality.
The film's producer was Thomas G. Smith, at the time an employee at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Smith had intended for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to be his last project for ILM, wanting to make his own movies, however Lucas convinced him to stay by offering the producer role for a half-hour Ewok film he was developing. When shopping the film around Smith discovered that none of the TV networks at the time were interested in airing a movie with short runtime. ABC showed interest, however under the condition that the movie be fleshed out so that it could fit in a two-hour movie of the week slot as such the movie was expanded to fill the request 
Working from a story written by George Lucas, and a screenplay by Bob Carrau, director John Korty transformed the scenic northern California redwood forests into the forest moon of Endor. Joe Johnston, an art director at ILM for years and one of the key concept artists of the classic Star Wars trilogy, acted as production designer. Prior to this movie, Johnston had written and illustrated a book about Ewoks, The Adventures of Teebo: A Tale of Magic and Suspense. This gave him a background to the arboreal aliens that was crucial in designing new Ewoks and their surroundings.
Both Ewok films were some of the last intensive stop-motion animation work ILM produced, as by the early 1980s, the technique was being replaced by go motion, an advanced form of animation with motorized puppets that move while the camera shutter is open. However, go motion was too expensive for the budgets of the Ewok films, so stop motion was used to realize creatures such as the condor dragon, the blurrgs, and the boar wolves.
The Ewok movies proved an opportunity for ILM to utilize a technique innovated for 2001: A Space Odyssey called latent image matte painting. In this technique, during live-action photography, a section of the camera lens is blocked off and remains unexposed. The film is rewound, the blocked areas reversed, and a painting crafted to occupy the space is photographed.
The musical score for Caravan of Courage was composed by Peter Bernstein. Selections from the score were released on LP by Varèse Sarabande in 1986. The release was known simply as Ewoks and also contained cues from Bernstein's score to the sequel Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
Documentaries and commentary
During the production of Caravan of Courage, the children in the cast had to balance their school work with acting in the film. During their time on the set, Lucasfilm decided that it might be an educational and rewarding experience for the older children, Eric Walker (Mace) and Warwick Davis (Wicket), to be given their own camera to use between takes. So, calling themselves W&W Productions, Eric and Warwick shot a documentary of the making of the film, which was released to Eric's YouTube-channel in 2014.
When the film was released on DVD in 2004 it contained nothing but the film itself. Eric Walker and Warwick Davis stated in interviews that they would be happy to record a cast commentary for another future DVD release, if Lucasfilm someday allowed a more detailed release of the films.
In 1985, Random House released a children's book adaptation of The Ewok Adventure by Amy Ehrlich, titled The Ewoks and the Lost Children, and utilized the story presented in the film, along with stills from the film.
Later Expanded Universe appearances
Since the release of The Ewok Adventure in 1984, several elements from the film have gone on to appear in other works from the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Many of the characters, locations, or other elements are elaborated on in greater detail.
- Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985) is the second of the two made-for-TV Ewok films. It dealt with the orphanage of Cindel, after her family was killed by Sanyassan Marauders. The marauders also kidnap many of the Ewoks. After meeting and being taken in by Noa Briqualon, Cindel, along with the Ewoks, must team up to defeat the marauders and free the others from their grasp.
- Ewoks (1985–1987) was an ABC animated series featuring the Ewoks that ran for two seasons. Set a few years before the films, it incorporates several elements introduced in the two Ewok films, such as the appearance of Queen Izrina of the Wisties.
- Tyrant's Test (1996) - According to the Expanded Universe continuity, the character of Cindel Towani went on to appear in Tyrant's Test, the third book of Michael P. Kube-McDowell's Star Wars book series, The Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy. In the novel, set over ten years after The Battle for Endor, Cindel is shown to have grown to 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. The Expanded Universe claims Cindel decided to join the New Republic and go into journalism after witnessing the Battle of Endor.
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (2003) is an MMORPG. In the game, the player has the opportunity to encounter the Gorax and the Gorax species, as seen in The Ewok Adventure.
The Ewok Adventure was first shown on American television November 25, 1984. In its overseas theatrical release, it was rechristened Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure. The film was released on VHS and Laserdisc in 1990 through MGM under the original title.
The film was released on DVD as a double feature collection with its sequel, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, on November 23, 2004. The release was a single double-sided disc, with one film on each side. For this release, the film bore the theatrical release title, Caravan of Courage.
In his review for The New York Times, John J. O'Connor noted the film's story as being almost "aggressively simple" and that "Mr. Lucas and crew do not come up with anything terribly astonishing." With Marin County serving as the backdrop, looking "like some never-never land east of the Sun and west of the Moon," O'Connor recognized most of the interactions as following well-established cinematic tropes, the notable ones being between Cindel "looking like one of those little blond angels used to top off Christmas trees" and Wicket, a performance by the-then 14 year-old Warwick Davis, whom O'Connor called "the cleverest of the lot."
Pointing to the main characters and plot elements, one pair of writers concluded that both Caravan of Courage and its sequel Battle for Endor are fairy tales despite occurring in a science fiction setting. They point to magical phenomena in both films, which is a fantasy element. They argue that in a science fiction story, the hero wants to disrupt or challenge the hierarchy of a supposed "utopian" society; whereas in both Ewok films, society is not challenged or disputed. Additionally, they argue, that while the Star Wars saga also has fairy tale tropes, it adhered more towards science fiction. Another author agreed that the films are fairy tales, whereas "Science explains all magic."
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure was one of four films to be juried-awarded Emmys for Outstanding Special Visual Effects at the 37th Primetime Emmy Awards. The film was additionally nominated for Outstanding Children's Program but lost in this category to an episode of American Playhouse.
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