The unshaken determination of a princess in shambles stands strong; ever a glimmering hope resting in shadows. As if prophetic, a striking white pierces the ebony blackness of a galaxy drowning slowly in the fading light of hope – slipping quietly away, as sunlight does in the wake of night. Her eyes look up; though faintly dim in the wake of devastating loss – millions, upon millions, cry out to her from the broken shambles of her world. A thick breath is pushed back, in hopes of swallowing a crumbling resolve.
“Hope,” comes the whisper, “there will always be a new hope.”
. . .
I believe inside every little boy there is a prince, and I am most convinced that inside every girl is a princess.
These thoughts can only be affirmed as I watch the generations after me grow into strong and independent, albeit young and naïve, people. I am convinced that children are influenced by the entertainment that is so prominently eminent in their lives – they become the heroes of tomorrow, kings of destiny, and princesses of hope. Inside of them are the characters of tomorrow, waiting to blossom – waiting to be discovered and birthed.
There is a great loss this day as we grieve our Lady of Alderaan, Carrie Fisher (better recognized as “Princess Leia”). She passed away this December 27, and took with her a generation both unprepared and shocked to say farewell. It is almost unbelievable that a woman so graciously talented – and influential to many, many individuals across the world – can pass so quickly and strike the hearts of a nation like Carrie has.
I can remember the first time I, as a young enchanted girl, watched A New Hope and was extravagantly captured by the woman in white, Leia. While Han Solo would go on to be my leading man for many, many years as a girl, Leia would become the epitome of grace and strength.
Carrie Fisher stood on the forefront of film’s smashbox story, Star Wars. She broke through the barrier that thousands of young women were desperate to find in film – themselves. Surrounded by challenges and faced with the great unknowns of groundbreaking cinematic story, Fisher presented a character with both moxie and class all rolled into the most elegant and, what would become legendary, hair the world has been trying to duplicate – she became the lady of the stars, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, General of the Rebellion, lover of the galaxy’s biggest cad, and sister to the hope of the stars.
Girls around the world craved the change that Leia’s character would bring to the big screen. Right alongside the rugged Han Solo and the precocious young Luke Skywalker, Leia challenged the world’s most prominent villain from almost a behind-the-scenes position. Suffice it to say that she was the frontline of the effort behind the curtain of the Rebellion. In the wake of losing not only her adopted family – and thus, her world altogether – she grapples with the knowledge of Luke being her brother, and Vader being her father, all while leading a massive resistance.
All the while, however, she stood tall and proud; all class and poise, as the world around her, it seemed, crumbled apart. She was ever the picture of beauty and grace in a dark and desolate Empire. She, to the average female moviegoer, was the woman audiences were waiting for – she wasn’t the helpless damsel in distress (most of the time) and she didn’t get the perfect guy until much, much later. Fisher didn’t take a backseat to action or quipping one-liners, but instead kept her boys in check and skirted around the galaxy’s most nefarious villain.
What Fisher brought to Star Wars, and film in general, was change. She would be one of the forerunners of changing cinema and what it meant to be a leading lady – she was the epitome of a “strong, female lead”, and she broke the barrier well. Many, many women today and in films to come would do well to take a lesson of Fisher’s work. The impact she left on her fans – and the community of which they are born – is testimony enough to that, though I admit to being the least qualified to state such a fact.
Carrie, (and thus, Leia) represented a step forward. She boldly took charge of the tasks set before her without looking back and with no regrets. Not only was she given charge of her acting career, and thus open the floodgates to what her career would become, but she was given charge of a people – she was put at the frontlines as an ambassador of a calling; a talent, that so many young ladies at the time (and still, to this day) crave. She was to set the bar for women in film, and she was to inspire girls. Essentially, she was handed a script, put on a exceptionally make-shift set, and was told, “Dazzle us, Princess. Dazzle us and we’ll capture it all for the world to see, in generations to come”.
And, she did.
Fisher was handed the responsibility of influence to a generation of women that I don’t think any person is quite prepared for. One cannot lead the band well if they don’t know the tune of the song – and to say that Fisher didn’t know the song as a nineteen year old, fresh on the scene is, I do not think, an understatement. Most nineteen-year-old young ladies are not even sure what outfit to put on in the morning and how to do their makeup, much less conceive a character that girls are to love in a two-hour film. Even less than that, I do not believe even the most seasoned of our time are quite prepared for the impact Fisher would leave – or the cornerstone that she would become.
But, she did it. Despite it all, she did all of it.
You see, Fisher wasn’t just Leia. She was women in Star Wars. She would mold the female leads that would follow her legacy in science-fiction. She was the future Padmé, and the future Rey, and even the future Jyn – she would set the bar for the women of Star Wars with her debut in 1977 as the lady in white. There is precedence now – a standard, if you will – for the women in the galaxy far, far away. And, not only that, Fisher would set the tone for the genre and the ladies written into it. She, most assuredly, was a trailblazer.
Among her other careers in the galaxy as an actress, she also was a script-writer, a script-editor; though most often unrecognized, and an author. She devoted her efforts to not only building her own career, but helping others overcome the challenging stigma’s of mental illness. While battling in the shadows of her own personal struggles, she gave hope to many others, as well.
Above all else, however, she was a mother, a wife, and a daughter. In her legacy she left an adoring family, that will remember her as just that – her. She wasn’t always their Princess Leia, no – she was Carrie: mother, wife, daughter, companion, inspiration, encourager, and mentor. She was a person, like you and I – she was herself, which I am sure she would want any of us to be. If there’s one thing we know, it is that Leia never buckled under the weight of responsibility or shied away from duty, no matter the difficulty.
We, as fans, owe her the same. While there is a season for grief, joy must come in the morning. Whether that stems from remembering Fisher in what she was as an actress, or an author, or as an everyday person, joy will come. Grieving only lasts for a while before it turns into remembrance. There is, as the Bible says, a time and season for all things (Ecclesiastes 3) – I know that Fisher would not want us to grieve her long. She would want her people – her people – to rise from the ashes of loss and continue fighting the good fight and changing the lives around us. She would, most of all, want her family to remember her as she was: beautiful, and strong.
I am certain that in every man there rests a king; in every girl, a princess – or, someone greater than who we make ourselves out to be. In Carrie Fisher, there rested a brilliantly talented woman, who changed her stars and touched the lives around her. In us, there lay stars to be changed – and people to touch, as well. There rests a new hope.
But most of all, in Carrie Fisher; was a Princess.
Since the bright and adventurous age of 5, Miriam Orr has been writing adventures to captivate audiences of all walks of life. She has been published in over ten poetry journals and graduated the creative writing certificate program through the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut. Currently, she possess a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Christian Studies from Crown College (MN). She hopes to respond to the call of Isaiah 6:8 across the globe and venture with the heart of Jesus Christ into the nations. Miriam currently resides in Minnesota and enjoys film, fiction, cars, poetry, and coffee. You can see more of Miriam’s work on her blog https://loudfictionblog.wordpress.com/