Over four decades, Dick and I have watched many, if not all, Star Wars episodes with our five grandchildren. But the heady experience of watching George Lucas’s first episode of the series (later retitled) — Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope — when Matt was seven and Becky five will be long remembered. Writing in TIME Magazine, Eliana Dockterman discusses the force Princess Leia Organa, played by the late Carrie Fisher, had on the galaxy.
Carrie Fisher was a witty memoirist, a sardonic comedian and a blunt interviewee. But most people will remember her as a princess. And with good reason: her Princess Leia in Star Wars will always hold a place in film history as the first kickass princess.
She took the stage, like the princesses that preceded her, as a damsel in distress. In 1977’s Star Wars Episode IV — A New Hope, Darth Vader kidnaps her, and she must await a rescue mission led by a love-struck Luke Skywalker and a reluctant Han Solo. As it usually goes in the movies, she falls for one of her rescuers (Han, the rapscallion, not Luke, her secret twin). But she soon was ordering them around—down the garbage shoot, through space, toward danger. (Fisher who, among her many other talents, was a reliable script fixer in Hollywood notably helped director George Lucas give Leia much-needed dimension.)
Leia grew into something wholly new. She got her hands on a blaster and fired it as well as anybody else. She led troops on Hoth, like Washington over the Delaware. She was a talented welder, patching up Rebel starships in her down time. Her outfits—with one ignominious, gilded exception—rendered her not so much a sex object as an action hero. Her flowy robes and unisex battle-ready gear were more realistic than the leather and spandex of a character like Black Widow or the quasi-bathing suit of a Wonder Woman. . . .
By playing Leia the way she did and by speaking openly about the troubled trope, Fisher upended notions of what a princess could or should be. Studios began to figure out that there could be other types of female protagonists.
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