Film and TV

Cinema Slap Fight: Ewoks Vs. Oompa Loompas

In which we answer the question: which creepy diminutive race freaks us out more?

Here at Cinema Slap Fight I've mostly concentrated on pitting individuals against each other, but tough times (and writer's block) call for tough measures. As I strive for more and more ridiculous match-ups, it will no longer be sufficient to concentrate on single combatants.

So for the first go-round, I'm focusing on two deceptively harmless-looking groups: Willy Wonka's Oompa Loompas and George Lucas' Ewoks. May the least disturbing midgets win.

In This Corner: The short but distinctly humanoid Oompa Loompas, transported en masse from their homeland to work in Willy Wonka's marvelous chocolate factory. And just so we're clear, we're talking about the first Oompa Loompas, from Mel Stuart's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The distinction is minor (Tim Burton's remake actually showed Wonka visiting Loompaland).

And In This Corner: Those flat-faced, furry denizens of the second moon of Endor, the Ewoks. Famed for their arboreal villages, peaceful demeanor, and ability to defeat the most technologically advanced civilization in galactic history with their primitive weapons.

A Short Brief History: Oompa Loompas were an endangered species on their home island, beset by such terrible enemies as Whangdoodles and Hornswogglers. Willy Wonka brought them to his factory to work for "cacoa" beans, a rarity in Loompaland. Doubtless there's a Nike factory there today,

The Ewoks were unheard of before Return of the Jedi, with good reason. At first glance, these ambulatory Teddy Ruxpins would have difficulty fighting off a cocker spaniel, spears or no. George Lucas was originally going to use the Wookiee planet for the location of the second Death Star (Kashyyk, for all you nerds), but two things prevented this. First, as the Star Wars series went on, it became apparent that the (relatively) technologically advances Wookiees wouldn't fit with the primitive race called for. And second, Lucas had all Kashyyk sets burned after the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Where Are They Now? Good question. Going solely by the movies, one assumes Charlie Buckey, bequeathed the keys to the chocolate factory by Wonka himself, took good care of the Oompa Loompas (it was a condition of the agreement, if I recall). They only show up at the end of Roald Dahl's second Wonka book, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, skipping the outer space exploits altogether (a good thing too, for they'd have been easy prey for the horrifying Vermicious Knids). Meanwhile the Ewoks, flush from their part in the defeat of the Galactic Empire, were last seen celebrating the destruction of the Death Star and the death of Emperor Palpatine (disclaimer: I actually liked the new ending music to RotJ better).

And yet...

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar