Tag Archives: A New Hope

Thoughts On the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back

*A New Hope will be referred to as ANH and Empire Strikes Back will be referred to as ESB.

Logically speaking, we know that a film (unless it is a documentary) is a work of fiction. It is the cumulative work of many who come together to create a final product that seems real. But a good film has a way of touching the audience in a way that lasts well beyond the final credits.

Thursday was the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. The second of three films in the first Star Wars trilogy, it is widely ranked as one of the best films in the overall series. While it’s predecessor, A New Hope, is the simple story of how a farm boy, a princess and a pirate destroy an evil empire, ESB takes that basic concept and expands it tenfold.

From a writing perspective, ESB is everything one would want in a sequel. The characters have grown and are facing new challenges. The world that the story takes place in is wider. The stakes are higher as the Empire has rebounded and is eager to take back the ground that they lost in ANH.

From a fan perspective, there are two major narratives that will forever hold a place in my heart. I love the will they or won’t they between Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia (the late Carrie Fisher). The tension between them is absolutely perfect. I think that it goes without saying that the exchange between Han and Leia just before he is frozen in Carbonite is simple, sexy and utterly romantic.

And then, there is the most jaw dropping revelation in film history. To this day, new fans watch this scene and their minds are still blown that Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) father is no other than Darth Vader.

Here is to the 40th anniversary of the Empire Strikes Back. May this film live on for another 40 years and beyond.

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Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Leia, Princess of Alderaan Book Review

Writing fan fiction, as easy as it appears to be, can be tenuous. The writer must balance the story they wish to write with the already established narrative and characters that readers are looking for.

Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Leia, Princess of Alderaan, by Claudia Gray, takes place three years before A New Hope. Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan is 16. Before she can be officially named as heir to the throne, she must complete a series of tasks that are designed to test her. While she is going about accomplishing these tasks, the Empire is tightening the noose on the universe and Leia is slowly being drawn into the rebellion that she will one day lead.

Warning! The video below has spoilers about the book.

I truly enjoyed this book. Ms. Gray creates a new narrative for Leia while building in the facts (and some well placed Easter eggs) that fans are familiar with. Above all, what strikes me is that despite her status and what she is experiencing, Leia is still a teenage girl who is going through the same growing pains that we all go through at that age.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Book Review, Fanfiction, Feminism, Movies, Star Wars

A Perfect Tribute To Carrie Fisher

When Carrie Fisher passed away last December, it was a heartbreaking loss. But while her physical presence is gone, she is still with us in spirit.

Today was the first day of Star Wars Celebration, an annual event celebrating anything and everything related to Star Wars. This year also commemorates the 40th anniversary release of Episode 4: A New Hope.

With the anniversary of A New Hope and the release of The Last Jedi later this year, our thoughts are turning to Carrie and how big the void is since she left this world.

The tribute put together includes a short video and an appearance by Carrie’s daughter, Billie Lourd, wearing a white dress (though not exactly like her mother’s costume, but close enough).

The video below is both heartbreaking and brings a smile to the faces of those of us who miss hear dearly.

I don’t know about any other fan, but I am preparing to bring quite a few bags of Kleenex when I see the The Last Jedi in December.

You are missed, Carrie. In the words of our mutual ancestors, z”l.

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Star Wars Character Review: Princess Leia

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the original Stars Wars trilogy. Read at your own risk if you are just now discovering the original trilogy.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from the original Star Wars trilogy to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Last week, I examined the character of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). This post will about his twin sister, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan (the late Carrie Fisher).

It’s no secret that the science fiction genre is a boys club. Female characters are usually relegated to the background or to the predictable role of the love interest and/or the damsel in distress. When the audience is introduced to Princess Leia in Episode 4 , she appears to be the standard female character that often appears within the genre. She is young, wearing white and is the prisoner of the evil Empire and it’s overlord, Darth Vader.

With just the initial introduction, it looks like Leia’s role within the narrative is predictable from the word go.

Then she grabs the blaster from Luke, shoots down a few storm troopers and aids her own rescuers by shooting a hole that will lead down to the garbage pit. From that moment on, not only did the world change, but women’s roles in the science fiction genre changed.

Leia is feisty, intelligent and takes no prisoners. She is the natural daughter of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and Padme Amidala, Luke’s twin (and a Jedi in her own right) and the adopted daughter of Senator Bail Organa and Queen Breha Organa of Alderaan. While she may have some of the narratives and characteristics of predecessors, Leia is a game changer character.

In A New Hope, Leia does not flinch when her home planet is destroyed and resists the torture heaped upon her by Vader. In The Empire Strikes Back, while she does fall in love with Han Solo (Harrison Ford), she is still his equal. In Return Of The Jedi, not only does Leia rescue Han from the carbonite, but she kills Jabba by strangulation. I don’t know about anyone else, but the speeder bike chase is still one of the coolest movie sequences I’ve ever seen.

 

Leia could have easily been the standard damsel in distress/love interest. George Lucas could have taken the easy way out when writing the character. While she has her standard character trope moments (i.e. the gold bikini in Return Of The Jedi), she is so much more than the standard character trope. For many women, young and old, Leia is a role model. While she is in the company of men, she is not the quiet, subservient woman, sitting in the background. She is equal, she is powerful, she is intelligent and she is in charge.

To sum it up: Women need other women to look up to. We need strong, capable intelligent women who can take charge. Leia was one of those women. In creating the character of Princess Leia, George Lucas not only brought a new audience to the genre, but showed that women are as capable as men. Sometimes, as writers, its easy to get lost in tropes and standard characters. By creating a character who goes against type, the writer is not only inviting the audience to look at the character with new eyes, but the world that the character inhabits with new eyes.

RIP Carrie. It’s only a month since you left this world, but it feels like an eternity.

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Star Wars Character Review: Luke Skywalker

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the original Stars Wars trilogy. Read at your own risk if you are just now discovering the original trilogy.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from the original Star Wars trilogy to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When the audience is introduced to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), at the beginning of A New Hope, he introduced as the average boy next door. On the cusp of manhood, he lives with his aunt and uncle on their moisture farm on Tatooine. Like most boys his age, he would rather do anything but work on the farm. A chance encounter with the droids C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2 -D2 (Kenny Baker) will forever change his destiny.

R2-D2 is looking for Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness). Princess Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher) has been captured by the empire and seeking Obi-Wan’s help in rescuing her.

They hire space pirate Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to help them rescue Leia.  The rest is movie history. Over the course of the three original films (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi), Luke grows from a boy to a man. He is a Jedi, the son of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and Queen Of Naboo/Republic Senator  Padme Amidala and the twin brother of Princess Leia. In A New Hope, he discovers his fate. In Empire Strikes Back, as he begins to seriously learn the ways of the Jedi, he is tested time and again. In Return of the Jedi, Luke must face not only his own darkness, but the darkness that turned his father into Darth Vader.

In the fantastical world of Star Wars, Luke is the every man going on the hero’s journey. The young man who at the beginning of adulthood who doesn’t expect much at the outset of the story will become the hero. But not before overcoming multiple obstacles and facing his own demons. Luke is interesting because even in a galaxy far far away, his journey feels very human and normal.

To sum it up: The audience needs a focal point. They need a character who they can root for and who they can see themselves in. Luke’s journey is about growth and change, while dealing with the sometimes painful reality that is life. In creating an every man or woman character who goes on a hero’s journey, the writer is reflecting ordinary life and ordinary struggles that we all face everyday. When these characters are created successfully, the writer is engaging the audience with the every day humanity that hooks the audience and keeps them coming back for more.

 

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

I think it is a fair statement to say that the buzz surrounding Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is palpable.

Filling in the gap between Revenge Of The Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977), Rogue One takes place just as the empire is tightening its grip on the universe. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of a scientist, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who has appeared to turn his back on rebels. She is raised by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) after her mother’s death and her father’s abdication to the dark side. We meet Jyn when she in imprisoned by the Empire. After being rescued by rebel forces, she joins the fight against the empire. Joining a team of rebels that includes Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), Jyn is not only fighting to free the universe from the empire’s grasp, but is also seeking to find her father.

I’ve heard this movie being compared to The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. While both films are the best of the best of within the Star Wars series, this film certainly comes close. The two qualities of the film that I especially appreciated and loved was not only how badass Jyn was, but also the film talks about the true cost of freedom and the cost of rebelling against tyranny to attain that freedom. And for me, as a Janeite, the cherry on the top of the cake was knowing that I first was introduced to Felicity Jones when she played Catherine Moreland in the 2007 Northanger Abbey.

This film is a must see and one of the best of 2016 for me.

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The Princess Diarist Book Review

In 1976, Carrie Fisher was the teenage daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and crooner Eddie Fisher. She made her screen debut in the 1975 film, Shampoo. While studying acting in London, she auditioned and won the part of Princess Leia in a new science fiction film, Star Wars. It would forever change her fate.

Recently, Ms. Fisher discovered a series of diaries she wrote while making Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. These diaries were published in a new book entitled The Princess Diarist.

What I loved about the book is how candid she was then and continues to be. On one hand, she was a normal teenage girl who was going through the same things that any teenage girl goes through. But few teenage girls can say that the they will go on to be pop culture icons, live in the sometimes perilous life of a celebrity and have an affair with their older and married and with children co-star.

I absolutely recommend it.

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