I can still remember my siblings and I squeezed together on the couch as my dad turned on Star Wars for the first time. The dramatic and iconic music opened the movie, and from the first moment, we could not look away. After that, we watched the movies too many times, and I even dressed as Princess Leia for Halloween. Princess Leia became my girlhood heroine.
A New Hope opened in theaters in 1977. The movie started a cultural revolution, lasting to the highly anticipated Star Wars movie The Rise of Skywalker, released December 2019. The series explore grand themes of good versus evil, sharing political and societal messages in a story of an outer-space fight for control. While the fight scenes and lightsabers may be interesting, for me, as a young girl, Princess Leia was the star.
From the opening scene of A New Hope you see a girl in the middle of the action. She is willing to take risks and does not shy away from danger. The movie opens with her sending a secret plea for help with her trusty droids. When her message is discovered by Luke, he naively assumes that Princess Leia is a damsel in distress. It is clear to the moviegoers that she is not.
When I started watching the movies, I was always inspired by Leia’s resilience in the face of disaster. She watches her home planet blow up into a million pieces, and even when told of her upcoming death, she does not sit and cry. Instead, she remains committed to her cause and keeps fighting. She refuses to give up true information to the Empire, remaining in control even as everything she loves is destroyed. Too often, we see girls portrayed as “hysterical” or “too emotional.” While Leia may have been an extreme example of stoicism, she showed me a strong girl that was willing to risk it all for her beliefs. Even in her rescue, she is witty and sharp. As she exclaims “somebody has to save our skins,” she takes over her own rescue mission. She helps lead her rescue party and herself to safety. In A New Hope, Princess Leia starts off as a senator and as the series progresses, she becomes a general. She is the integral key in holding the rebellion together, and there are countless scenes with her as the hero. Bold and brave throughout the movies, she was my heroine as a young girl. Princess Leia was a girl unafraid, someone I wanted to be like when I grew up.
Girl Museum Inc.