By Kristy Strouse
The loss of Carrie Fisher is still stinging, but we were given a legacy that some could only hope to leave behind. She was someone who was frequently active in her work as a mental health advocate, taking her own experiences to help others. She was passionate in her stances, humble and humorous in her flaws, and…a fighter. She was also a talented writer, and unapologetically open. This role is definitely the one most thought of, but she did a lot more in Hollywood, in front of and behind the scenes.
I first saw the original “Star Wars Trilogy” when I was 5 years old. This was the early 90’s before we got the prequels or the extended universe. These films had a near-permanent place on my television. This story, taking the very relatable good versus evil premise and creating this fantastical franchise, would be nothing without the characters that live within. All the main heroes were inspirational to me, but Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) especially stood out. She could match Han Solo’s snark, bite for bite, keep up with Luke’s valor, and didn’t give up when coming face to face with Darth Vader. It didn’t matter that this existed in a galaxy far, far away. She was blazing the screen- bold and unmistakable. Who was she? A princess? A politician? A warrior?
In the many years since she first starred in “A New Hope” (1977), the character has been a symbol for young women to look up to, and I believe that’s continued over the years for new audiences as well.
So, what made Leia stand out? Other than being the only female star in the initial three films, there was a variety of things that made her unforgettable; she was a trailblazer. While first introduced to us as “princess”, it’s clear she’s not your normal slice of royalty, and she was unlike any of the Disney characters I had seen.
She was also unmatched in her mix of femininity and toughness. Leia was the first to charge into a fight, if able, and she was unparalleled in her loyalty. How could one not appreciate her screen presence? It’s undeniable that Leia was gorgeous, but it wasn’t her defining trait. She was also unflinching, and a real leader. She championed her way through the galaxy and didn’t turn a head when it came to standing up for what was right, and for what she cared about. Isn’t that the sort of character we should look up to?
“So, what made Leia stand out? Other than being the only female star in the initial three films, there was a variety of things that made her unforgettable; she was a trailblazer.”
Leia was also incredibly strong, especially in her will and mind. As we see in her on-screen portrayal as well as her backstory (further given context with the other movies) there’s no doubt that she has endured. This hasn’t been an easy road and she’s taken all her loss with an unwavering and uncanny ability. There’s a look in Leia’s eyes throughout her story that never loses its intensity or wavers; she is the rebellion.
Despite being surrounded by larger, masculine heroes, she never looks weak. Leia manages to withstand torture when she’s taken by Darth Vader, as well as being forced to watch her planet be destroyed before her eyes. She’s also remarkably cunning and intelligent when it comes to battle strategy. Whether it is sneaking into Jabba’s throne room (even if she’s caught) or plotting the resistance as general, she’s always directly involved.
“Fisher had her flaws, but we all do, and the embracing of this translated to the screen. She was as rebellious in her real life as she was in this character.”
Carrie Fisher openly talked about how she was first referred to as “the girl” when she first starting filming. Which, just, wouldn’t do. Her pluckiness is evident on and off the screen, as we know…this was a woman who wasn’t shy about sharing her feelings with absolute candor. Fisher had her flaws, but we all do, and the embracing of this translated to the screen. She was as rebellious in her real life as she was in this character. The fervor that Fisher brought to everything she did, that fire, sparked Leia to life and it urged something in its viewers.
Over the course of the films, as the story has progressed, Leia was still an integral part of the story. Her leadership was felt through Poe Dameron’s (Oscar Isaac) mentorship and with Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) uncertain future. Her character, even when offscreen, is enormously instrumental in this saga.
We now enter a new time in Star War’s lore: without Fisher, and there’s going to be an obvious loss in the galaxy. Leia Organa May not have been physically imposing, or the expected hero, but that’s what she is. Her bravery and intelligence are consistently impressing, and the years haven’t tarnished this Science Fiction legend. Fisher may no longer be with us, but her spirit, her forte, and her depth are eternally weaved with Leia’s.
May the Force be with you.