My Five Favorite Princess Leia Moments

In honor of yesterday being the fourth anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s passing, here are my five favorite Princess Leia moments:

  • “Into the garbage chute, flyboy!” from A New Hope. I had seen The Empire Strikes Back first when I was a kid, so I already knew that Leia was a force to be reckoned with. But then going back and watching her in A New Hope only cemented that idea, especially this scene when the boys showed up to save her, and then she had to save them. Damsel in distress? No, a distressing damsel. But one you want on your side.
Someone’s gotta save their skins.
  • “I love you.” “I know.” From The Empire Strikes Back. I love pretty much every scene Leia has with Han, especially in this movie. But this moment is when we see Leia at a vulnerable moment, letting herself admit to Han, and to herself (and everyone else in that room, lol), that she loves him. She’s tough, but she’s got a heart.
Famous words on t-shirts, mugs, wall hangings, and wedding rings everywhere.
  • Choking Jabba, from Return of the Jedi. Now this is a woman who takes things into her own hands. As in, her slave chain, and wrapping it around her captor’s fat neck, and choking him to death. Some say she unknowingly used the Force to help her choke the life out of Jabba the Hutt, and perhaps that’s true, but either way, she got the job done.
She’s tiny, but strong.
  • Slapping Poe, from The Last Jedi. Look, I love Poe, but he’d been an insubordinate little shit that cost the Resistance lives and ships (and he only got worse with Holdo). Perhaps she shouldn’t have slapped him, but her emotions got the better of her (remind you of someone?) and he’s lucky she didn’t throw him in the brig. We’ve seen plenty of scenes with Leia angry, but this one shows her anger boiling over. It’s also pretty funny to watch some outtakes of Carrie slapping poor Oscar Isaac 27 times to get this scene. That’s gotta sting.
You’re demoted.
  • Reaching out to Ben, from The Rise of Skywalker. I couldn’t find any images of Leia actually reaching out to him, but this still of Ben hearing her call to him across the galaxy says it all. Leia’s entire existence has been one of sacrifice, so it’s no surprise that she was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for her son, Ben Solo– trying to reach the Light that she knew was still inside him, letting him know she still loved him, despite everything. This was the beginning of Ben’s turn back to the Light.
Long-distance call from your mom, do you accept the charges?

I can’t believe believe it’s been four years since Carrie’s death. I loved her character Leia, and I also loved Carrie Fisher herself. She was a smart, feisty, witty woman, and funny as hell, and we will always miss her.

What are your favorite Leia Organa moments? Let me know in the comments, and we’ll talk about it!

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Friday Focus: Leia-Strength Through Sacrifice

Here is my first post on my current series, Women of Star Wars.

Once a week for a while, I’ll be posting some thoughts on the women of Star Wars, since, well, I’m a woman and it interests me. Leia seems to be the perfect character to start with.

Princess Leia Costume - Star Wars
Tough Princess

In 1977, Leia Organa was seen as a new kind of heroine: the strong Princess who doesn’t need to be saved. Rather than being a damsel in distress, she was a “distressing damsel”, in the words of Carrie Fisher herself.

So true, and yet, technically, she did have to be saved from that first Death Star in a New Hope. She was locked in a cell, scheduled for termination. If the boys hadn’t come along and opened the door, she would have been just another martyr for the Rebellion. But Leia would sacrifice herself in many other ways over the course of the films.

This is no way takes away from her capability, obviously. She risks life and limb for her cause, and absorbs tragic blow after tragic blow with a stoicism I can’t begin to fathom. Her entire home planet, Alderran, gets blown to bits, and we see nary a tear. “There’s no time for our sorrows,” she says when she arrives at Yavin.

In the past, I often thought Leia to be a bit cold. We never, ever see her cry, though she suffers more than her fair share of tragedy. Padme weeps with sorrow, Rey cries in frustration. But Leia? Not one tear, ever. I used to think this was unrealistic, that any woman worth her salt would allow herself to weep for what she loves.

Home planet blown up? No time for sorrow. Man she loves encased in carbonite, may die? Confess love, but chin up. The closest we get to tears in Leia is in Return of the Jedi, when Luke tells her that he is her brother, and Vader is their father. When he leaves her, tears hover, but don’t quite fall. That’s the closest we get to waterworks from Leia.

Tough moment

In the sequels, she’s much older, and has seen ever more tragedy, namely the loss of her son to the Dark Side. I liken this to losing your child to a cult, almost a fate worse than death. I have to imagine that she’s shed a river of tears over this one; we just don’t see it onscreen. Leia is a rock, a pillar of fortitude. Even when she senses Han’s death, she sits heavily, as if she can’t bear this latest burden, but her eyes remain dry. Perhaps there’s no tears left at this point. But in pure Leia fashion, she sets aside her personal sorrows for the cause, and remains the strong General so many in the Resistance rely on.

Leia is the figure of sacrifice in Star Wars. Personal loss after personal loss, she swallows it and carries on. How much more crap can the galaxy fling at her?

But her very last act in life is one of sacrifice, again: she expends all of her remaining life force to reach out to her son in an attempt to bring him back to the Light. Even after she dies, she waits for her son to join her before she disappears into the Force.

We even learn in TROS that Leia gave up her Jedi training after having a prophetic vision that her son would die if she continued it. “Someone else” would pick up her lightsaber and continue what she began (Rey). Again, Leia sacrifices her own wants and needs for her loved ones, and the Greater Good. Cold? Hardly. Her strong emotional armor protects deep wells of love.

Thoughtful moment

It seems to me that, at the time of the original films, the character of Leia was caught between this new idea of a strong heroine (scrappy, capable) and the old stereotypes of how women should be portrayed, especially in the male-dominated action/adventure genre (bikini scene, anyone?) Strong female action heroes, like Sara Connor, Ellen Ripley, and even Furiosa, were several years away, even decades.

In a lot of ways, the character of Leia confounds me. She’s strong, independent, not prone to tears or emotional outbursts; but also incredibly selfless in the sacrifice of her own wants and needs to duty, her sense of right, and her loved ones. The stereotype of women sacrificing themselves for others as a kind of submission is turned on its head: her sacrifices become her strength.

How do you feel about Leia? Do you think her storyline did her character justice? Comment in the space below and we’ll talk about it!