Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A New Hope

[the Millennium Falcon, under siege, won't start]
Princess Leia: [sarcastic] Would it help if I got out and pushed?
Han Solo: [also sarcastic] It might...

Noting the passing of Carrie Fisher - actor, writer, advocate...icon.

The Boston Herald American newspaper (circa Spring 1977) had a small article about a new sci-fi flick coming out in May. Called Star Wars, it represented the next generation of the genre - good graphics, a decent script and something missing from most 50s and 60s space movies...charm.

Most of us who had entered our early twenties (barely) by then had grown up with the usual stuff. There was the cockpit of the rocket, long levers everywhere, lights blinking haphazardly, windows huge and flimsy. The outside shots of the rocket often revealed the wire upon which it slid, exhaust plume shooting out of the tail and then...raising up (!?) in the micro-gravity of space.  

Women crew members - they tended to be window dressing, there primarily to be a eye candy for the inevitable space monster, the distressed damsel dressed in tight-fitting "uniform" and often requiring multiple rescues per movie by the male lead, usually played humorously by an actor of modest talents. Star Wars, bring it on.

It was, of course, awesome. Epic. The spacecraft actually looked substantially like...well, spacecraft. The villain looked like a villain, talked like a villain and had the nasty habit of crushing things that displeased him - rebel troops, insurgent planets. His own commanders.

The good guys were good. Pure. Luke was a talented kid stuck on an isolated planet. The Empire killed his aunt and uncle, which turned out to be a huge mistake. Obi Wan, a sort of zen master put out to pasture, is there ("These are not the droid you are looking for"), or maybe not. Roguish Han Solo steals the show - he is handsome and dashing, with just the right bit of larceny in him. Even the robots are fun times, C3PO's dashing off some of the wittier lines.

There was, of course, Princess Leia. Fisher played her as brash, no nonsense, able to command the respect of rebel warriors while effortlessly parrying Solo's chauvinistic advances. Diminutive in stature, brassy in everything else, she could be hard...and then soft. She was beautifully, memorably, sensually played by a talented actor not yet twenty.

Ms. Fisher had a busy life. She wrote books, did voices for animations. She worked a lot in movies. Her relationships seemed not to last very long, complications always tugging at her sleeve. She battled illnesses, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Her forthright public statements, her advocacy for better treatment of mental health concerns and addictions, lent hope to others suffering in anonymity. When she revisited Leia in 2015, hers was a face, a voice, a heart, who had seen a lot and overcome it all.

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