Willow is a 1988 American fantasy film directed by Ron Howard and produced/co-written by George Lucas and starring Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh, and Patricia Hayes. Davis plays the eponymous lead character and hero: a reluctant farmer who plays a critical role in protecting a special baby from a tyrannical queen in a sword and sorcery setting.
Lucas conceived the idea for Willow in 1972, approaching Howard to direct during the post-production phase of Cocoon in 1985. Lucas believed he and Howard shared a relationship similar to the one Lucas enjoyed with Steven Spielberg. Bob Dolman was brought in to write the screenplay, coming up with seven drafts before finishing in late 1986. Willow was then set up at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and principal photography began in April 1987, finishing the following October.
The majority of filming took place at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England, as well as Wales and New Zealand. Industrial Light & Magic created the visual effects sequences, which led to a revolutionary breakthrough with digital morphing technology. Willow was released in May 1988 to mixed reviews from critics, but was a modest financial success and received two Academy Award nominations.
Fearful of a prophecy stating that a girl child will be born to bring about her downfall, the evil Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) imprisons all pregnant women within her realm, the formidable stronghold of Nockmaar. The child, Elora Danan, is born in the Nockmaar dungeons and identified as the prophesied child by a birthmark on her arm.
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