When I was a kid, I didn’t realize just how awesome Princess Leia was in the Star Wars trilogy. The first time I saw the films I was only about ten or eleven and it was my crush on Luke Skywalker that motivated my interest in the film. I thought he was ‘too cute’ at the time, and instead of paying attention to the incredible powers of the force and its dark side, I would really only pay attention to Luke’s monologues.
I recently made the commitment to re-watch the first three films from A New Hope to Return of the Jedi (Episodes IV, V and VI). Instead of my long lost crush on Luke returning, I’ve recently become obsessed with the film’s heroine, Princess Leia. Starting with Episode IV, unlike the aspiring Luke, and money-hungry Han Solo, Leia is cool, calm and collected with one focus in mind: the objectives of the rebellion against the Empire. Luke may have been cute in my eyes when I was eleven, but re-watching the first film now, Luke is overly enthusiastic, confused and a little too focused on seeking Leia’s approval. Meanwhile, Han is only willing to partake in missions against the Empire for large monetary rewards. But the rebellion’s princess is anything but the likes of a stereotypical princess. Leia doesn’t fall for the first guy that vies for her attention, she never plays the damsel in distress and she can hold her own in any battle.
In Episode V we see that Leia is the character that is the most in touch with her emotions and instincts. In the famous scene when Han is about to be frozen and she calls out ‘I love you’, we see that though she doesn’t hold back her emotions, she does announce them at the perfect time when her beloved Han needs to hear it most. Though we see her affections for Han in this film, her instincts are also in check as she can sense when her loved ones are in danger. In Return of the Jedi, my favorite of all six films, Leia must also come to terms with the knowledge of her family’s history. And despite the burden of this knowledge, her instincts are still as strong as ever because deep down, she knew the truth all along. Putting her personal troubles aside, Leia uses her charm and calming presence to win the Iwoks as allies and fight for the rebellion.
It’s amazing how a woman’s attitude can change over time. As a young girl I was always more interested in the heroes of my favorite films as opposed to the heroines. And now, it is these heroines that inspire and empower me. At the same time however I feel humbled, looking back at just how boy crazy I really was as an adolescent. So why does Princess Leia rock? Well for all of the reasons I just mentioned but also because she has completely changed my love for Star Wars. Though she doesn’t have a light saber or a kick-ass ship, it is her strength and charisma that truly keeps that band of rebels together through thick and thin.
Who are your favorite heroines?