Revisiting the familiar forest moon of Endor but set prior to the events portrayed in Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi, Ewok Adventures: Caravan of Courage brings back the popular Ewok characters from the third film in the original trilogy, including fan-favourite Wicket (reprised by Warwick Davis) in a family-oriented fun adventure. The plot revolves around the children of the Towani family – Mace and Cindel – who are marooned on Endor when their civilian craft crash lands and their parents are kidnapped by the evil giant Gorax. Teaming up with the Ewoks, they go on an adventure to rescue their parents and escape to safety.
The first thing that jumps out at you when you start watching this film is the low production costs. It retains a lot of the production team that were involved in the original trilogy, but the budget and time constraints meant it feels a lot more cinematic than we’d expect. Indeed, it was a made-for-TV movie and the resolution available in 1984 meant they didn’t need to worry about spectacular visuals. Crucially, George Lucas was on board as a scriptwriter and a producer, meaning the film doesn’t escape from the canon in ways that the Star Wars Holiday Special was unfortunately allowed to.
The main human characters Mace and Cindel are interesting. The former, played by a young Eric Walker, was clearly chosen for his similar appearance to Mark Hamill. This is a bit of a cheap shot and his character is a little whiny, meaning he’s never very likeable. His younger sister is portrayed by Aubree Miller, in one of only two films she ever made (the other being this film’s sequel, 1985’s Battle For Endor). She is far easier to like and the fact she is a young girl in a leading role was probably a decision based on widening the male-centric fanbase of the Star Wars universe.
There has been much debate over whether or not this film should be classed as part of the official canon. It’s a tough one to call. In my opinion, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be, though it is more complicated than you’d think. The sequel, in which the Ewoks begin to speak English, plants it after the events of Return of the Jedi. This one, however, is set prior to that film, meaning the timeline of events over the three films is pretty tight if they are canon. To be honest though, if they’re happy for Episodes I-III to be included then these should be. They’re better films.
Neither of the Ewok Adventure films are currently available on Blu-ray, though they did enjoy a double DVD release around ten years ago. They’re still freely available online to purchase, though occasionally the entire films are put up on YouTube and stay there until the rights holders realise and remove the video. I think they should be embraced with a full re-release, with proper restoration, commentary and extras. It’s a no brainer. It would be a popular release and would widen the popularity of two films that really aren’t bad enough to want to hide from the public.
These are nice options to watch on Star Wars Day this coming Monday. I’ve embedded the YouTube video below for ease of watching as a sample in case you wish to purchase.