Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure

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Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure
Promotional poster
Also known asThe Ewok Adventure
  • Adventure
  • Family
  • Fantasy
  • Science fiction
Screenplay byBob Carrau
Story byGeorge Lucas
Directed byJohn Korty
Narrated byBurl Ives
Theme music composerPeter Bernstein
Country of originUnited States
Executive producerGeorge Lucas
  • Thomas G. Smith
  • Patricia Rose Duignan
Production locationMarin County, California
CinematographyJohn Korty
EditorJohn Nutt
Running time97 minutes[1]
Production companies
Original release
  • November 25, 1984 (1984-11-25)
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

The Ewok Adventure is a 1984 American fantasy adventure film based in the Star Wars universe. It takes place on the moon of Endor, and 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 threatens 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 boisterous Ewok woodsman named Chukha-Trok, Kaink the Ewok priestess, and a wistie named Izrina before finally reaching the lair of the Gorax after a few mishaps on the way. 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.




George Lucas had allowed the Star Wars universe to be produced for television in 1978 with the Star Wars Holiday Special, which proved to be an embarrassment.[2] Lucas assumed greater control over a planned half-hour television project about Ewoks. He hired Thomas G. Smith to produce the film, after Smith had stepped down as the manager of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) following his work on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.[3][4] Lucas also hired Bob Carrau, a personal assistant, to co-write the story with him.[3]

When shopping the film around, Smith discovered that none of the TV networks at the time were interested in airing a half-hour special, but ABC showed interest in a two-hour movie of the week; the project was expanded to fill the request.[4] The producers initially conceived of the project as a cross between "Hansel and Gretel" and Tarzan of the Apes.[5] John Korty, who had directed the Lucas-produced Twice Upon a Time, was selected as director.


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 and second-unit director.[4] Prior to the movie's release, Johnston also wrote and illustrated a book about Ewoks, The Adventures of Teebo: A Tale of Magic and Suspense.[6]

Visual effects[edit]

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.[7] However, go motion was too expensive for the budgets of the Ewok films, so stop motion was used to realize creatures such as the Gorax.[4]

The Ewok movies proved an opportunity for ILM to use a technique innovated for 2001: A Space Odyssey called latent image matte painting.[8][failed verification][9] 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. "Parade of the Ewoks" from John Williams' score to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, credited as "Wicket's Theme", appears when the children are first taken to the Ewok village and meet Wicket. Selections from the score were released on LP by Varèse Sarabande in 1986.[10] 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[edit]

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. Calling themselves W&W Productions, Walker and Warwick shot a documentary of the making of the film, which was released to Walker's YouTube channel in 2014.[11]

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.[citation needed]


In 1985, Random House released a children's book adaptation of The Ewok Adventure by Amy Ehrlich, titled The Ewoks and the Lost Children,[12] which includes stills from the film. There was also a release of a picture book with audiotape for those learning to read.


The Ewok Adventure was first shown on American television on November 25, 1984 on ABC. 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 double-sided disc, with one film on each side. For this release, the film bore the theatrical release title, Caravan of Courage.

Prior to 2021, Disney announced no plans to add the Ewok films to its streaming service, Disney+. This prompted Eric Walker to start a petition for Disney to add them.[13] In March 2021, it was announced that both films would begin streaming on Disney+ on April 2, 2021.[14]


Critical response[edit]

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."[15] 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."[15]

Pointing to the main characters and plot elements, one pair of writers concluded that both Caravan of Courage and its sequel 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.[5] Another author agreed that the films are fairy tales, wherein "Science explains all magic."[16]

Colin Greenland reviewed Caravan of Courage for Imagine magazine, and stated that "a casual catalogue of magical folderol about various ancestral talismans carried by the questing koalas. It certainly did the trick for the eight- and nine-year-olds in the front row, but seemed to make little sense to their mums and dads, or to me."[17]

Modern reception has been largely negative, with Aidan Mason of Pop Culture Beast calling the movie, "a story without a sense of urgency" and "a chore to sit through".[18]


The Ewok Adventure was one of four films to be juried-awarded Emmys for Outstanding Special Visual Effects at the 37th Primetime Emmy Awards.[19] The film was additionally nominated for Outstanding Children's Program but lost in this category to an episode of American Playhouse.[20]


Several elements from the film have gone on to appear in other works of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which was declared non-canon and rebranded as Legends in 2014.[21]

  • 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 before the original Star Wars trilogy,[22] it features Izrina, Queen of the Wisties, in one episode,[23] as well as Chukha-Trok and some of Wicket's family members.[24][25]
  • Tyrant's Test (1996) – In the Star Wars Legends continuity, 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.
  • The Illustrated Star Wars Universe (1997) by Kevin J. Anderson retroactively set the film between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.[26]
  • Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (2003) is an MMORPG. In the game, the player has the opportunity to encounter the Gorax species.

The Gorax was reintroduced in current Star Wars canon in the second season episode "Traps and Tribulations" of the animated web series Star Wars: Forces of Destiny. Princess Leia Organa and Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker aid the Ewoks Kneesaa and Wicket against the rampaging beast.


  1. ^ "Caravan of Courage – An Ewok Adventure". British Board of Film Classification.
  2. ^ Warren, Robert Burke (December 15, 2014). "The Flaw in the Forces: The Star Wars Holiday Special". Archived from the original on February 20, 2018. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Jones, Brian Jay (2016). George Lucas: A Life. New York City: Little, Brown and Company. p. 338. ISBN 978-0316257442.
  4. ^ a b c d Alter, Ethan. "'Star Wars': How the Ewoks Came to TV 31 Years Ago". Yahoo. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Douglas Brode; Leah Deyneka (June 14, 2012). Myth, Media, and Culture in Star Wars: An Anthology. Scarecrow Press. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-0-8108-8513-4.
  6. ^ Joe, Johnston (1984). The Adventures of Teebo: A Tale of Magic and Suspense. Random House. ISBN 9780394865683.
  7. ^ "The 5 Most Grueling Star Wars Visual Effects". September 3, 2015. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  8. ^ "Matte Effects – Return of The Jedi". The American Society of Cinematographers. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  9. ^ Sawicki, Mark. "Filming the Fantastic: A Guide to Visual Effects Cinematography". American Society of Cinematographers. Archived from the original on March 14, 2017. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  10. ^ Osborne, Jerry (2010). Movie/TV Soundtracks and Original Cast Recordings Price and Reference Guide. Port Townsend, Washington: Osborne Enterprises Publishing. p. 175. ISBN 978-0932117373.
  11. ^ Walker, Eric. "Star Wars Ewok Adventures Making Of Teaser". Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved December 9, 2015 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ Ehrlich, Amy (1985). The Ewoks and the Lost Children. Random House. ISBN 9780394871868.
  13. ^ Walker, Eric (September 24, 2019). "Disney+ May Not Be The Home To All of Star Wars – All For SciFi". All For SciFi. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  14. ^ Ridgely, Charlie (March 16, 2021). "Disney+: Every Movie and TV Show Arriving in April 2021". Archived from the original on March 16, 2021. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  15. ^ a b O'Connor, John J. (November 23, 1984). "TV Weekend; 'The Ewok Adventure,' Sunday Movie on ABC". The New York Times. No. Vol. 134, No. 46, 237. p. C34. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  16. ^ Charles, Eric (2012). "The Jedi Network: Star Wars' Portrayal and Inspirations on the Small Screen". In Brode, Douglas; Deyneka, Leah (eds.). Myth, Media, and Culture in Star Wars: An Anthology. Scarecrow Press. pp. 129–131. ISBN 978-0-810-88513-4. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  17. ^ Greenland, Colin (March 1985). "Fantasy Media". Imagine (review). TSR Hobbies (UK), Ltd. (24): 47.
  18. ^ "Star Wars: Every Movie Ranked". Pop Culture Beast. May 4, 2021.
  19. ^ Leverence, John. "Outstanding Special Visual Effects – 1985". 37th Primetime Emmy Awards, September 22, 1985. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  20. ^ "Outstanding Children's Program – 1985". 37th Primetime Emmy Awards, September 22, 1985. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  21. ^ "The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns a New Page". April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  22. ^ Veekhoven, Tim (September 3, 2015). "From Wicket to the Duloks: Revisiting the Star Wars: Ewoks Animated Series". Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  23. ^ Worthington, Clint; Roffman, Michael; Brennan, Collin; Gerber, Mckenzie; Caffrey, Dan (May 22, 2018). "Ranking: Every Star Wars Movie and TV Show from Worst to Best". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  24. ^ Sansweet, Stephen J. (1998). Star Wars Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Ballantine. p. 50. ISBN 0-345-40227-8. OCLC 36960986.
  25. ^ Veekhoven, Tim (October 30, 2014). "Meet the Ewoks from Endor". Archived from the original on November 2, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  26. ^ Anderson, Kevin J. (1995). The Illustrated Star Wars Universe. New York: Bantam Books. pp. 115, 132–34. ISBN 0-553-09302-9.

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