"...Slave Leias are troublesome...because they have the effect of (making the Leia character valued because of) sexual display, and, in turn, devaluing (the female characters) based on a sort of juvenile smuttiness about seeing their bodies."The whole macguffin of Star Wars, women, their bodies, and how they come together seems to have returned with the new Lucas flick, The Force Awakens with Ms. Fisher, again, in the middle of it.
Fisher isn't happy that she has been slammed by viewers for "not aging well", and is pretty pissed off that - unlike her co-stars Hamil and Ford - her value relative to the new film is often being weighed based on her looks.
(It's worth noting that a hell of a lot of this goes back to the ridiculous but bog-bro-standard of a woman's sexual desuetude increasing with age, a stupid idea I've discussed here before...)
Why bring this up? Because the Boy and I went to see her new film last week.
I could go all Siskel and Ebert on you here, but why? You know what it was; a Star Wars flick. X-wings and blasters, "I have a bad feeling...", droids, alien critters, good Jedi and bad Sith.
Overall we both enjoyed it. It was good popcorn entertainment and a fun diversion, which is all I'd ask from a popcorn film.
Here's the thing, though. The most challenging and intriguing thing about it - two words I'd never have thought I'd ever say about a Lucas film - was watching Fisher and Harrison Ford, the two of the oldest actors on screen. They've been mailing it in for so long that I'd almost forgotten what made them stars back in the day. But together they provide what modest throw-weight there is to the tale and, as such, do the best work they've done in a long time.
Ford's Han Solo was spot-on; trying to be the same "scoundrel" that makes him feel like he's still got some remnant of his youth and the sort of swagger that captivated the Princess when they met.
But...he's also smart enough to know he's kidding himself. Years and sorrows have slowed him down. He knows that he's slowing down and that the things he's running from are catching up to him. He knows that while he can't stop running that he can't run fast enough to escape his past and his grief, and that's as grievous as what he's fleeing.
All the while Ford doesn't lose the essential core of the guy. It's an older Solo but still Solo. Good work...but Fisher's older Leia was as good or even better.
I've read reviews that called Fisher's performance "perfunctory" or "embarrassed" but I disagree completely; her restrained work is perfect for the part. Leia is scarred as her lover is scarred, but her way of dealing with that is to lock down. She withdraws inside the austere senior officer and faction leader, all too aware of her responsibilities, just as her ex retreats into his feckless bad boy all too heedless of his.
Fisher conveys this by using her older looks and body to great effect. She wears the strained face of someone who lives with the constant fear of agony, a veteran trooper who has taken the big wound. She moves slowly and cautiously as someone who expects at any moment to be spitted on the spear of old pain that she knows from experience will stagger her and drive her to her knees.
She's damaged, just as he's damaged, but her scar tissue is formed in stillness as his is in motion.
As a couple they're terrific.
(Selfishly, I wish that there had been a little more sexual desire, some sexual tension, but expecting adult sexuality from a Star Wars flick is like expecting grand opera from friggin' Care Bears; you know it ain't gonna happen.)Together their work shows the viewer that all their emotions are still there but that both have wrapped those emotions away in deep storage because they hurt too much to be exposed. They hate the baggage each of them carries while loving the person almost - but not quite completely - buried under the baggage. They're still in love but given their griefs and, more particularly, their disparate reactions to their griefs they can't stand to live with each other.
I was amazed...until I remembered that George Lucas had nothing to do with writing this thing. Anyway, this was perhaps the first time I've ever seen one of these SW flicks where the characters 1) felt like actual people and 2) drove the story along. It felt like an actual movie instead of a toy commercial written by a 12-year old. I think a huge part of that was the age of Ford and Fisher, and the knowledge of the actual pain and suffering that the blasting and slashing were inflicting.
The characters they played in the earlier films were young people having "an adventure" for other young people to enjoy.
In this one they're still "adventuring"...but at the heart of the adventure, like a hidden knife inlayed with old blood, is mortality. Age and pain have taught them that "adventuring" has a deep and sorrowful cost.
The two young actors in the piece are their yesterday and our today, strong and brave and striving for today's bright crown of honor and glory.