|“||This is not an army! You dare to challenge me? You are not warriors, you are pigs! You are all pigs!||„|
|~ Queen Bavmorda, mocking her foes before cursing them.|
Queen Bavmorda is the main antagonist of the 1988 fantasy film Willow, and its adaptations in novels, comic books and video games. She is an extremely powerful sorceress and the despotic monarch of the country of Nockmaar, bent on taking over the world of Andowyne, whose attempts to destroy the baby prophesized to end her rule lead to her downfall.
She was portrayed by Jean Marsh, who also played Princess Mombi in Return to Oz.
Queen Bavmorda is a tall woman in her fifties, of aristocratic support and regal features, clad in dark blue robes (black during the final battle) and cloaks. She wears a white head-scarf and a diadem-like crown ornate with thorn-looking spikes. Although she fits the archetype of the wicked witch like a glove, her aspect is made to evoke a nun.
Bavmorda is portrayed as a typical Dark Lord: cruel, ruthless, merciless, demanding, prone to anger, arrogant and scornful, who seeks absolute dominion over everything. She is calm, poised and regal, but she shows disdain and outright mockery towards her foes, even towards her rival Fin Raziel, despite knowing that she is around her equal in power. Her conviction in her superiority is such that she becomes frantic when the situation seems to get out of hand, leading to her demise.
Although she verbally abuses her daughter Sorsha, there are hints in her behaviour that she trusts her more than any of her servants. She refuses to heed a warning that Sorsha could turn against her, and appears pained when she sees her among her foes. However, this infuriates her and prompts her to make several attempts on her daughter's life.
Bavmorda is an incredibly powerful and skilled sorceress: She can animate things, turn objects into moving creatures of limited sapience, perform telekinesis on things and people, levitate, compel people and influence their memories, and reshape entire landscapes, among other impressive feats of magic. She can effortlessly curse hundreds of people with a single spell, as seen when she curses everyone in Tir Asleen or when she transforms an entire army into pigs. Even Fin Raziel could do nothing to lift her curse herself, for she was no longer able to spell-cast after being transformed. She can also breed a kind of highly dangerous dog-monsters, among other horrors, and command monsters of all sort.
In the final battle, despite being visibly weary from the lengthy ritual she was performing, Bavmorda is more than a match for both Sorsha and Fin Raziel, in spite of the latter wielding a powerful magic wand. (Granted, they made the mistake of confronting her one after another, and Fin Raziel was somehow weakened by old age.) She is seen hurling fireballs that engulf their target in flames, lightning bolts potent enough to blow up stone walls, and powerful blasting waves of pure force. Moreover, she displays exceptional resilience to magic, being able to withstand powerful attack spells without damage or to negate a transformation cast on her. Finally, she she remains very physically fit, brawling fiercely against Fin Raziel and gaining the upper-hand.
The novelization and the Willow Sourcebook reveal the evil queen's past and rise to power. When she was born, in the kingdom of Tir Asleen, many omens indicated an exceptional potential for sorcery, leading many powerful mages, including the Fairy Queen Cherlindrea, to initiate her and an older sorceress-in-training named Fin Raziel to the ways of the Great Mystery (how sorcery is called by its practitioners). However, her growing malevolence and ambition eventually made the Malatrium (a sentient grimoire containing the secrets of the Darkest Arts, attracted by evil mages) appear for her to be found. Having coveted it for a long time, Bavmorda eagerly took it.
After completing her study of the Malatrium, Bavmorda used her powers to seduce Prince Mikal Tanthalos, who was courting with Fin Raziel. Shortly after their marriage, she caused the deaths of the old king and queen. The court poet Durward suggested that she was responsible and Bavmorda killed him. When Fin Raziel confronted her, Bavmorda fought and defeated her old rival, transforming her into a possum and banishing her to a remote island on a lake, which she cursed so that anyone in contact with its water would transform into a monstrous fish.
Following the birth of her daughter Sorsha, she cast a spell on the entire capital of Tir Asleen, encasing everyone there in crystal, including the husband she no longer needed; before turning the valley around Tir Asleen into a labyrinth-like array of canyons which she swarmed with trolls. She had the formidable Nockmaar Castle built to serve as her capital in the namesake Nockmaar Valley, and started her reign of terror, known in history as the Time of Whispers.
For decades, Bavmorda tyrannized her subjects with heavy taxes, curfews, slave labour, public executions and torture. She then raised an immense army of 15000 men and launched her campaign to attain total dominion over the world of Andowyne, conquering and laying waste on every bordering kingdoms, such as Carathor and Galladoorn. Yet, Bavmorda fears a certain prophecy, which proclaims that a new-born baby will be the cause of her downfall. As such, she has all pregnant women in her empire imprisoned in her dungeons, in order to get rid of the prophesized child as soon as it was born.
Role in the story
The Baby's Escape
When the prophesized child, a baby girl, is born, the midwife who delivered her is able to escape with her, before Bavmorda can perform a vile ceremony known as the Ritual of Obliteration that would not only kill her, but banish her soul in the netherworld for eternity, unable to reincarnate. Bavmorda sends troops led by her best warriors, Princess Sorsha and General Kael, to find and recapture the child. After a long chase, mere moments before the midwife is cornered and torn apart by the hounds of Nockmaar, she puts the baby in a raft and sends it down stream - hoping she will get away safely.
The baby is found by the main protagonist, Willow Ufgood: a farmer and aspiring sorcerer from the Nelwyn people (a kind of dwarf-like humanoids). After the Nelwyns kill a hound of Nockmaar that had tracked the baby, Willow is tasked to bring her to the Daikinis (humans) who could take care of her. The village's sorcerer, seeing Willow's potential, gives him magical acorns able to turn people into stone. Willow later encounters a rogue and boastful swordsman known as Madmartigan, and has to flee from Bavmorda's forces.
In the Fairy Kingdom
After a long journey, Willow ends up in the fairies realm, where he learns from the Fairy Queen Cherlindrea that the baby is called Elora Danan - and that she is destined to end Bavmorda's reign of terror. Given that Willow has been anointed as Elora Danan's guardian, Cherlindrea gives him her magic wand and directs him to the island where he would meet the good sorceress Fin Raziel, ordering two brownies named Franjean and Rool to escort him. The heroes then encounter what is left of the army of the kingdom of Galladoorn, and their leader Airk Thaugbaer. They later cross paths again with Madmartigan, who helps them escape from Sorsha.
The heroes encounter Fin Raziel at last, but Willow is not skilled enough in sorcery to turn her back to normal, and his attempts only result in her turning first into a crow, then into a white goat. (In a deleted scene, Willow meets a boy turned into a monster fish by the lake and must fight it.) Eager to get back at Bavmorda, Fin Raziel goes along with them and starts teaching magic to Willow. Soon after, they get captured by Sorsha, and Madmartigan is accidentally subjected to a magic dust that makes him fall in love with her. The heroes escape, and they reach Tir Asleen, but the population is still encased in crystal by Bavmorda’s curse and none can help them.
Battle of Tir Asleen
There, Sorsha, Kael and the rest of Bavmorda's army attack them - and Willow botches a spell, turning one of the trolls he was fighting into a nightmarish, gigantic, two-headed dragon. Fortunately, the remaining members of the army of Galladoorn arrive, and engage a battle with Bavmorda's forces. Impressed by Madmartigan's swordsmanship skills, Sorsha starts harbouring feelings for him, and ends up joining the heroes. Unfortunately, General Kael manages to capture Elora Danan and returns to Nockmaar Castle with her. (In the deleted scenes and novelization, Sorsha encounters her father in Tir Asleen, kept in suspended animation by Bavmorda's curse. She realizes that her mother magically sealed her memories of him and had her believe that he was dead, cementing her defection to the heroes' side.)
The heroes' forces then journey up to Nockmaar - in a final attempt to rescue Elora Danan before Bavmorda can banish her soul to the netherworld. As they establish their camp near the castle walls, Bavmorda and a few of her guards come out onto the castle battlements and witness their arrival.
Storming Nockmaar CastleBavmorda laughs derisively at the heroes, prompting Fin Raziel to call Willow away into a nearby tent, telling him to chant a spell to protect himself from the curse she knows will be unleashed. Bavmorda transforms the entire army into pigs; distraught and disgusted by her daughter's betrayal, she curses her as well. After that, Willow finally manages to turn Fin Raziel back into a human. In turn, she breaks the curse on the other heroes.
The heroes might be protected from Bavmorda's magic by Fin Raziel, but with Nockmaar being impenetrable, all hope seems lost - until Willow comes with a desperate plan. He has the Galladoorn army hide and makes it look like they left, while he and Fin Raziel call Bavmorda's soldiers to surrender. General Kael sends a few soldiers to deal with them, but the hiding army reveals itself and takes profit of the open drawbridge to storm the castle. In the midst of the ensuing battle, General Kael kills Airk, before getting killed in turn by a vengeful Madmartigan. Meanwhile, Sorsha, Fin and Willow sneak off to confront Bavmorda.
The Final Battle
|“||Is *that* the extent of your power little one?||„|
|~ Queen Bavmorda, taunting Willow.|
The heroes confront Queen Bavmorda in the ceremonial room, where she is about to complete the Ritual of Obliteration. Sorsha easily defeats Bavmorda's druid assistants, but the evil queen levitates her and very nearly impales her on some spikes sticking out from the wall. However, Sorsha is saved by Fin Raziel.
A magical battle ensues between the sorceresses. Bavmorda throws a fireball at Raziel, who resists the flames and retaliates with a freezing spell using Queen Cherlindrea's magic wand; but Bavmorda counters it and the resulting shockwave very nearly crushes Raziel under rubbles.
Raziel levitates Bavmorda, throwing her around then to the floor. But Bavmorda survives the fall and causes Raziel to drop her wand. As the two sorceresses struggle to pry the wand away from one another, Raziel repeatedly punching Bavmorda in the face, they fire magical bolts from it - wrecking the room and turning a cauldron into a four-legged creature blocking Willow's path, as he tries to rescue Elora Danan.
Willow throws the cauldron-creature out of the window, while Bavmorda overpowers Raziel and strangles her to unconsciousness. With Sorsha and Raziel out of the picture, Willow tries to run away with Elora, but Bavmorda notices him and magically seals the doors before him. She demands that he hand the baby over to her, but he states his name and tells her that he is a great sorcerer, "Greater than Fin Raziel, greater than her even", to which she merely laughs. Willow throws a magical acorn at her, which she catches, but she dispels its petrifying effect and orders him to place Elora on the altar. Willow refuses and claims that he will send Elora into a realm where "evil cannot touch her", before chanting a spell.
As a furious Bavmorda is conjuring Cherlindrea's wand to her hand, Willow performs a parlour trick to make it seem that he has made Elora disappear (his chanting was but a pretence). Shocked, the evil queen loses all composure and lunges towards him in a frantic rage, accidently knocking magic items on the altar over herself. As she raises the wand to destroy Willow, who was weakened by her magic's backlash, it attracts lighting on her and activates the Ritual of Obliteration. Since she botched it by knocking the magic items, Bavmorda is destroyed by the very magic that she intended to use against Elora Danan, and her soul is cast into the netherworld for eternity.
Now a celebrated hero, Willow leaves Elora Danan in the care of Madmartigan and Sorsha, and returns home with a magic grimoire given to him by Fin Raziel, who tells him that with it he will become the great sorcerer he always wanted to be.
Appearances in video games adaptationsQueen Bavmorda serves as the final boss in the video game adaptions of Willow. The first is a platform game released by Capcom for arcades, and the second is an Action RPG released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989. The third is a point-and-click with mini-games and riddles, released for the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and MS-DOS in 1998, developed by MidNite Entertainment Group Inc and Brian A. Rice Inc and published by Mindscape.
In the Capcom game, Queen Bavmorda attacks by hurling a wave of sparks of magic, one after another. She can block Willow's energy balls with a magic screen, but she is vulnerable when she attacks. When damaged enough, she starts flying around the room and destroys the chandeliers with a lightning bolt to set the ground aflame, before hurling exploding energy balls. Willow must jump to attack her. The second time Bavmorda starts flying, her bolt of lightning animates the cauldron-creature, which starts jumping around and opening itself to fire three marble-like projectiles on each side. Willow must dodge it and concentrate on Bavmorda. The evil queen has a huge life-bar, so it is best to face her with the maximum power-ups and to attack continuously.
In the NES version, Queen Bavmorda and Fin Raziel's nature and backstory radically differ from the film. They are both angel-like messengers, sent to the world of Andowyne by the divine Spirits: the Spirit of the Skies for Bavmorda and the Spirit of the Earth for Fin Raziel. Bavmorda turned evil and seized power in Nockmaar, before cursing Fin Raziel and Tir Asleen. She is looking for the magical Crest of the Spirits that could grant her eternal life and absolute power, but she is destroyed by Willow and the Spirit of the Skies takes her soul back to his realm.
During the final battle, Queen Bavmorda runs across the room, lighting magical fires on her wake. Willow must stay away from both the evil queen and the fires, and attack at distance with magic. Willow needs to be at high levels and to have a big reserve of mana to face her safely. The first stage of the battle is not that hard, but in the second stage, Bavmorda is much faster, she lights more fires and Willow must fight her at close range with the sword.