Guys, I wanna talk about Princess Leia, and these scruffy few days in the run up to Xmas feel like the perfect time.
Star Wars movies, in a weird way, have almost become Christmas movies. Not because of their subject matter, but because of their universality. Put a Star Wars movie on and pretty much everyone is happy. They are enjoyed by young and old and well known enough to have on in the background without any fear of missing something. There has always been some channel playing them while everyone else shows A Christmas Story and Meet Me In St. Louis. And I for one am sincerely hoping that Disney+ doesn’t kill this tradition.
Also the red and green lasers!
I am sure this newfound Christmassy take on the movies was one of the factors involved in the switch from May to December releases for the new films. And we are now days away from the release of what feels like the last Star Wars film.
Of course, there will now be endless Star Wars films. Disney will make sure of that. Nothing is too sacred. I myself am looking forward to the dark, yet ultimately sympathetic origin story for the Sarlacc (honestly there is enough out there about the creatures for another 3 films). There will be reboots and new franchises, new takes on old characters and whole new characters for us to love, hate, or feel indifferent about.
But for those of us invested in the original triology, The Rise Of Skywalker marks the end of the story started in 1977. It will round out the trilogy of trilogies, and almost certainly be the last time we see any of the original trio in the forms we know and love.
And by all accounts this was gonna be Princess Leia’s movie.
Despite a new cast of Imperial forces, rebels, scoundrels and adorable droids, the new movies have still been about Luke, Leia and Han. The Force Awakens can be seen as Han’s movie, Harrison Ford finally got what he’d wanted for so long, Han killed off. And it happens in such a way that it finally and irrevocably connects him both to the Force and the father/son drama that rooted the original story; in dying Han Solo becomes more connected to Star Wars than ever before. Luke Skywalker had his epic showdown on the salt fields of Crait and proved once and for all his mastery of the force and commitment to the light side.
In a moving essay for Time Magazine, (seriously, bring tissues) Billy Lourd writes that her mother, Carrie Fisher, was “excited…that the next movie in the trilogy was going to be Leia’s movie… her movie”. Following Fisher’s sudden passing, J.J. Abrams and others involved with making the films have (hopefully) have held fast to their promise not to recast, or use a digital rendering of Carrie for the final film.
I know for sure that I don’t want to see another actor or some Uncanny Valley hologram of Carrie Fisher in the final film, but I am still hoping for a satisfying conclusion. For the story and my princess. In a Vanity Fair piece, Abrams admits that “finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us” and he has said that she will live on in this film. There was apparently enough unused footage of Fisher as Leia that they were able to weave it into the story of the film, and (fingers crossed) create a conclusion worthy of General Organa. So Carrie Fisher is finally getting her own film in the series.
Of course what so many of us have always known is that they are all her movies. Of all our main heroes we meet her first. By then she has already risen high enough in the rebel ranks to serve on diplomatic mission, entrusted with information vital to the survival of the rebellion during their most desperate hour. Luke is still back home bullseyeing whomp rats and Han is drinking his troubles away in a wretched hive of scum and villainy trying to avoid his creditors. Only a man (Ahem, George) would look at these two idiots and think they’re the stars of the show.
Princess Leia is the glue that holds every fibre of Star Wars together. Without her involvement in the rebellion and influence on the other characters there would be no story. Neither Han or Luke would have survived without her brains, wit, and literal constant rescuing. She was smart and tough and beautiful and sassy and bossy; she had great hair and held her own in any situation. Even when the film makers went the classic women in sci-fi objectification route, Princess Leia kept her cool and killed her captor the first chance she got. For anyone still upset by the outfit that needs no introduction, Carrie wants you to know something: “a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage”.
I will be going into the Rise Of Skywalker with trepidation and excitement. I am sad to see something that has been a part of my whole life come to end, how can anything live up to all of those years of expectations? The sadness is sadder knowing that Carrie Fisher wasn’t there to be a part of it, but I am grateful to be able spend just a little bit more time with Princess Leia. She has been a friend and role model for so many women, and now no matter how small her role is, this will be her movie. Princess Leia’s inclusion will be the most watched and analysed aspect of the film. Luckily, J.J. Abrams has seemingly approached these films with the air of a man who knows He. Cannot. Fuck. This. Up. I hope it holds together. (Hear me, baby? Hold together.)
My only hope is that she continues to be the same Princess I grew up loving. Badass, intelligent, fighting for her cause and always ready to put you in your place. This is her story. This has always been her story. And if she has to go, I hope she goes out in a blaze of glory.