Tag Archives: Harrison Ford

Star Wars Character Review: Han Solo

*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.

Two weeks ago, I examined the character of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Last week I examined the character of Luke’s twin sister, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan (the late Carrie Fisher). This week I will be talking about Han Solo (Harrison Ford).

The bad boy or girl. The pirate. The lone wolf who appears to be only be out for themselves. The character who is as quick with a charming smile as he or she is with their weapon of choice. This character has been adapted time and again over the centuries. Standing in contrast to their counterparts that are more innocent and less world weary, this character has seen quite a lot in their life.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, this character was played the likes of such actors such as Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power. In the Star Wars universe, the pirate is Han Solo.

The audience is introduced to Han in the bar scene in Episode 4. Han and his co-pilot, Chewbacca the Wookiee need a lot of money fast. His business relationship with intergalactic mob boss Jabba the Hutt has soured and Han has a bounty on his head. He agrees to help Obi-Wan (Alec Guiness) and Luke rescue Princess Leia for a handsome financial reward. What starts out as a job will change Han.

As a result of helping to rescue Leia and destroy the death star, Han becomes far more than the space pirate. He becomes part of the rebellion. In the Empire Strikes Back, not only does Han fall for Leia (and she falls for him), but the audience also learn more about Han’s back story. In meeting Han’s old friend Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), we learn a little more about Han’s life before A New Hope. Lando betrays our heroes and Han is frozen in carbonite. In Return Of The Jedi, Han is freed by his friends and leads the final battle on the planet of Endor, which finally destroys the Empire.

Like his predecessors, Han Solo is and will forever be the bad boy. But over the course of the three films, Han becomes so much more. He is not  only bound to himself and Chewie. In joining the rebellion, he finds love, family and something greater than himself.

To sum it up: Characters need to grow. Without growth, their story is implausible. Han’s growth from rogue space pirate to rebellion general reflects life and circumstances change. Without change and growth, the audience may find it hard to grasp onto a character and follow them on the journey.

P.S. I don’t know about anyone else, but the exchange  between Han and Leia “I love you/I know” just before Han is frozen in the carbonite is one of sexiest romantic exchanges I’ve ever seen on film.

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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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Rey Is Not A Skywalker, She Is A Kenobi

*The theory below is strictly based on the narrative and characters presented in the movies, not on any of other media. This post also contains spoilers about the Star Wars movies, read at your own risk if you have not seen them.

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), fans were introduced to a new heroine: Rey (Daisy Ridley). We are introduced to Rey as she is climbing through the remains of a downed Empire battleship, scavenging for metal that she can sell. While the audience has yet to be told anything about Rey other than the details that were released in The Force Awakens, multiple fan theories have been flying around the internet since the film’s release.

My theory is that Rey is not a Skywalker, but a Kenobi. My reasons are:

  1. The force and the abilities to control the force are an inherited trait (unless your Anakin Skywalker and believed to be created by the force.) There are only a few surviving bloodlines and families within the Star Wars Universe that have transfered the force from parent to child. Unless Rey were partially created by the force, she has to have inherited her abilities from someone.
  2. If nothing else, the narrative within Star Wars is known for huge, jaw dropping, completely out of left field plot twists (i.e. the big reveal in Empire or Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) killing his father, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in The Force Awakens). While the easiest and most direct theory is that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is Rey’s father, that would be almost too easy to predict.
  3. Rey is an outsider at the beginning of The Force Awakens. She lives on the desert of Jakku and is without family or friends to rely on. If she were Luke’s daughter, she would be wearing an outfit that is completely white. But instead, her outfit is  white, tan and grey, closer to the outfit that Obi Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) wore in a New Hope.
  4. If Rey was Luke’s daughter, both Han and Leia (the late and very missed Carrie Fisher) would have recognized their niece.
  5. Rey could be Leia’s daughter from another relationship. In The Force Awakens, Han and Leia seemed to have separated for a time. That might have led to a relationship with another man, but again, Leia did not recognize her or make mention of another child besides Kylo Ren/Ben, so from my perspective, it is highly unlikely that she and Rey are mother and daughter.
  6. There is no mention in The Force Awakens of a relationship that between Luke and a woman that might have led to the birth of a child. Unless that is the big secret that both Daisy Ridley and J.J. Abrams have almost let slip over the past year.
  7. Unless some of Obi Wan’s history between Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope has been alluded to in other media, the audience knows nothing of his life between those years. There could have been a relationship and a child somewhere along the way.
  8. The audience is given so little of Luke’s life in the thirty years between Jedi and The Force Awakens. Mark Hamill was not given any dialogue in The Force Awakens and he gave no indication, at least for the short time he was on screen, that he recognized Rey.
  9. Obi Wan is one of several prominent voices that Rey hears as she picks up the light saber and learns how to yield it.  Given his status as Luke’s mentor and father figure, as well Rey’s natural abilities with the light saber, it’s not hard to imagine that Obi Wan is related to Rey.

Therefore, based on the information provided provided, I believe that Rey carries Kenobi blood, not Skywalker blood in her veins.

Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to know what my fellow Star Wars fan think.

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Flashback Friday-Actor Spotlight-Harrison Ford- Six Days Seven Nights (1998), Air Force One (1997) & Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

Harrison Ford is an American icon. A man’s man, he is known for iconic, rugged, masculine roles that have defined a generation.

The first movie I am going to write about tonight is Six Days, Seven Nights (1998). Robin Monroe (Anne Heche) is a New York journalist who is on vacation with her boyfriend. Not wanting to miss out on a story, she hires Quinn Harris (Harrison Ford) to take her a remote island, which she hopes to be the subject of her next story. Quinn is not too happy, but agrees to take her. Then the plane crashes and Robin and Quinn must find a way to coexist until they are rescued.

This movie straddles the line of romantic comedy and action film. Where some films do not succeed by blending the genres, this movie straddles both genres perfectly. There is almost a Elizabeth Bennet/Fitzwilliam Darcy relationship between Robin and Quinn, which helps to nicely balance the action with the comedy and the traditional Hollywood happy ending.

The second film I am going to write about is Air Force One (1997).  President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) is returning from Moscow after making an anti-terrorism speech. Then his plane is taken over by Russian hijackers. They threaten to execute the passengers one by one (including The First Lady and The First Daughter) until their demands are met. But they don’t anticipate that President Marshall is a bad ass who will not go down without a fight.

This movie is an old fashioned, in your face action film. Ford is in his element as an action hero. After 18 years, this film still holds up as a standard bearer for the genre.

And finally, the film that will always be linked to Harrison Ford: Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981). Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) has been given the task by the government of find the Lost Ark Of The Covenant. But he is racing against the clock as the Nazis are also seeking this ancient treasure. Can Indy find the ark or will the Nazis beat him to it?

In terms of film franchises and action heroes, Indiana Jones is one of the greats. The film series holds up because the films are well made, entertaining and build upon the previous films instead of rehashing old plot lines.

Do I recommend all three? Absolutely.

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Flashback Friday- Sabrina (1954 and 1995)

Audrey Hepburn is an icon. Her movies, her perfect fashion sense, have lived on 21 years after her passing.

One of her earliest movies, Sabrina, happens to be one my favorite classic Hollywood movies and the subject of this Flashback Friday post.

Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) is the daughter of the Larabee family chauffeur. She is mousy, quiet and watching from the sidelines. She has a crush on David (William Holden), the younger Larabee  son who does not know that she exists.  After receiving an opportunity to live in Paris, Sabrina returns home, fashionable and elegant.

David quickly takes notice of her. But the problem is that David is engaged and breaking his engagement could potentially ruin a business deal with his future father in law.  David’s older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) starts to spend time with Sabrina to try to sway her attention away from his brother. But Linus will soon find that he too is falling for her.

This movie is classic Hollywood at it’s best. Despite the age different between Hepburn and Bogart, their chemistry is perfect. What I love about this movie is the Cinderella-esque journey that happens to Sabrina. Her transformation from a gawky, unsure young girl to an elegant woman who thinks that she has finally gained the attention and affection of the man who she has secretly loved is magical.

In  1995, a lackluster remake of Sabrina premiered. Taking over from Hepburn, Holden and Bogart was Julia Ormond, Greg Kinnear and Harrison Ford. While the movie tries to be what was then a modern update, there is something not quite right about.

I recommend first the 1954 original movie. And then if you like that movie, try the 1995 remake.

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