We all a bit saddened at the death of Carrie Fisher. Since she had her cardiac incident a few days ago, I had some self-reflection about why her and her character has endured.
Until Star Wars (no number is needed) Fisher was relatively unknown. Yes, pundits will spout her credits, but to be honest, none of us had seen her face until Star Wars. The fact she played the role so well with so little experience catapulted her into our collective memory and hearts.
She played a princess that didn’t fit the mold. Up until that time we had the sugarcoated vision of princesses that Disney had been churning out for decades. Sure, we had Princess Diana (Wonder Woman) but in the end it was her figure that drew us in. Fisher’s Leia character was a tough, take-charge woman who was as comfortable in diplomatic settings as she was wielding a blaster. She was a role model without shoving it in your face like so many “stars” try to do today. A huge part of the appeal of Star Wars is her character and the fact that she did not fit the stereotype of a princess in distress.
Even the other characters like Han Solo, which should have overshadowed hers, were stymied at her audacity and biting lines. Yes, that was the product of great writing and directing, but in the end it was Carrie Fisher.
Her character fell in love with a guy from the wrong side of the tracks and she made it work. One of the best moments we had in Rogue One was seeing her there, once more, buns in hair, on the screen again.
And that slave girl costume from Return of the Jedi…well, that was another image we proudly carry thanks to her.
Was she a stunning actress with depth? Probably not. She didn’t have to be. One of my favorite moments recently with her was on Big Bang Theory when James Earl Jones and Sheldon rang her doorbell and ran. There was something so cool in that one short segment that made even the most stiff and cynical critic grin broadly.
When we saw her in The Force Awakens, we saw that time had stripped some of the veneer off of Fisher but not off of the character she played. While the years had changed her looks, the spirit was still there and that was all her – all the actress.
She was still our one and only Princess. She had a father with issues, deep issues. Yes, she kissed her brother – but we moved past that. She is gone, and for those of us who proudly refer to ourselves as geeks, we have lost our only true royalty. Her legacy is one of memory for us. She will always be in our minds wearing white, hair in buns, blaster at the ready.
For me, like so many, the reflections are personal. I proudly bear the fond memories of working at the Battle Creek Auto Drive-In for 10 weeks while Star Wars showed every night 1.5 times – to the point when we could do all of the actors parts while we did our jobs. It never once got old or corny. I took my children to see the digitally remastered films when they released in theaters, and my grandson to see the new films when they came out. Carrie Fisher is, for most of us, generational. Her image is iconic around the globe, which is why we care.
For her to have taken a part in Star Wars was risky…a risk we are all better for her doing. In her own words, “You came here in that? You’re braver than I thought!”
Farewell your worshipfulness. The Force is with you…you are now, truly, one with the Force…