Have you ever met a princess as sassy as Leia? I certainly hadn’t when I watched Star Wars for the first time at the age of six, when I officially met her with this iconic line: “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?”. The way she’s lying there, her arm on her hip, she oozes nonchalance and debonairness. She may as well be saying “What took you so long?”. Let’s be honest, out of all three from the first trilogy, Leia stood out as the most original and refreshing (even at six I could tell her role was subversive). Sure, Han Solo is… Han Solo, but he still fits in our image of the “cowboy”, the all-American rascal. Thanks to Harrison Ford we have a three-dimensional character with so much wit he is almost real, and ripped out of the canvas bag of his architype, but he is still, essentially, a “Cowboy”. As for Luke, now I must make it clear, I have never been a fan of the character, to be honest I couldn’t give a damn about him (Mark Hamill is a different story, he’s terrific). Stories about the “special-one” always make me want to role my eyes. They just don’t make any sense to me. I won’t deny, he does have a nice arc and by Return of the Jedi he had become a proper hero. And that’s exactly my point, Luke is the archetypical Hero in every sense of the term (just look at The Hero with A Thousand Faces (1947) by Joseph Campbell). But Leia? Had history of cinema ever really seen anything like her? Sure, she does look like some space medieval person or whatnot and she is a “princess”, but is she really? To even call her a princess is subversive, her attitude and wit is everything that we don’t expect from that architype. In Force Awakens, she was called General, which is her actual role, however her older title had that touch of irony which befitted the character so perfectly. Oh, I could start a whole ode on her utmost bravery and general awesomeness, but I won’t bore you too much with that, you’ve seen the movies, you know she’s great. But there is one scene that always made me love her more (and snob Luke more). After having seen her home planet blasted to oblivion which essentially represents everything she ever knew, her friends and family, her childhood, her memories, her home, not to mention that it was her own father who commanded the explosion genocide (yes, I am aware that Leia is a fictional character and that her planet Alderan doesn’t exist but that traumatised me as a kid). And yet, after having gone through all of that she was the one who had to comfort Mr. Special Jedi over here, sure he had just seen his master/father figure die before his eyes, but come on, surely, watching your home planet be blown up must be more distressing? Nope, she carries on.
I was always impressed in episode 6, how she was the one to save Han, I don’t know, I just thought it was cool. I loved how roguish she looked holding a shaken and vulnerable Han (THE Rogue) in her arms. About Episode 6, as a child on my first viewing of that movie, I was disappointed by the gold bikini, I regarded it as inappropriate and overtly sexual, and considered her to be above that, especially after having seen her save Han. However, later I watched with glee as she strangled that brut of a slug with the same chains he had enslaved her with, which left me with a sense of triumph. Jabba the Hut always repulsed me (like everyone, I believe, unless you’re Diego Luna). His sleaziness terrorised me more than Darth Vader ever did.
She’s the real hero here, well the one I looked up too as a kid anyway, the one I inspired me the most. Her wit, her attitude, her unabashed personality, the way in which she never even seemed to question her actions, and her confidence that transcends all stereotypes. Which is thanks to Carrie Fisher’s undeniable talent and real life personality. She redefined my image of a (space) monarch as a child. She is probably closer to the great historic female monarchs then any stupid Disney movie (I’m sorry they just bore me, never liked the songs). Just think of Isabelle of France who was named the She-Wolf or Margaret of Valois who had to deal with the French Religious wars (she had a good life but you know having St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre a few days after your wedding doesn’t make the honeymoon any livelier), and so many more. But in my geeky brain, you say princess, I say Leia. She was my childhood hero and formed my vision of what a hero could be, which is why Carrie Fisher’s recent death has touched me to the same extent Robin William’s did a few years back. People die, it’s a part of life. So, it’s not like I’m mourning exactly, but it’s this strange morbid mixture of the death of a human being and this symbol that her character represented (hope and bravery), not to mention the level at which she took place in our psyche is what perturbs me. I will always associate Carrie Fisher to Leia despite her other wonderful work, the character will always be my childhood hero; and now she is gone. Star wars is the place you could escape as a child in a galaxy far, far away, away from the worries of this world and watch as the light side (life, hope) vanquished the dark side (doom and death ). Her passing brings Star Wars back down to earth. I would like to leave this page with Fisher’s own beautiful and poetic words:
“So, I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”