|photo by Riccardo Ghilardi|
I have just received news that the actress Carrie Fisher has died today.
Like most people I would imagine, my memories of Fischer are primarily of her as Princess Leia. While this made her a film icon for all generations, I don't know how trapped she felt by the role. Some like Harrison Ford ran away from it. Others like Mark Hamill embraced it. I think she may have done a bit of both.
Fisher was also a highly respected script doctor, someone who is called in to fix movie scripts in production. She had a hand in films like Sister Act, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer.
On top of that she was born into Hollywood royalty being the daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.
I do not know if this would be a pleasing tribute to her, but to me she will always be Princess Leia.
Carrie Fisher was one of the first fictional characters to create in my mind the archetype of womanhood. I was a bit too young for the more hormonal reaction that many had to her outfit from Return of the Jedi. But even as a boy I understood that in the entire trilogy there was something unmistakably feminine about her.
At this point in my childhood, the princesses of storytelling were just "girl stuff." But I connected to Leia as a person who wanted to share in the adventures. Yet she was never "one of the guys." She brought the much needed presence of womanhood to the story. She was not like Han or Luke but she was every bit as important and as heroic.
Even when I was young, though I thought girls were "icky," I understood that there is a natural romantic connection between men and women. And in what romance my tiny heart could understand, Leia was a part of that.
As a kid, I most identified with Luke Skywalker. And the way his relationship to Leia is portrayed in Return of the Jedi had a profound impact on me. As strange at it sounds with all that we know now, Leia appeared to be in a potential love triangle with Luke and Han. But with the revelation of their sibling relationship, the intensity of their charity never ceased. Luke's love for Leia was deep, but in no way romantic in that last film. That movie showed my younger self in many ways that the deepest core of love is not in the passion of romance but in the selflessness of charity.
In that, Leia helped me look beyond girls as the "icky" other or the object of romantic interest. Leia, like each woman, was a person who should be offered unselfish love.
That is the main legacy of Princess Leia to me.
And thus in my life it will be the main legacy of Carrie Fisher.
God rest her soul.