Haiku Me Friday! Leia’s Pain

I felt it in me
Something has happened to Han
I know he is gone

There are many theories out there on why Leia opted not to follow the Jedi path like Luke. I think her strengths lay with politics and used that as an explanation. But what I really believe is that when she found out Vader was her father and how the Force had corrupted him, she wanted to stay way clear of it.

It reminds me of kids who grow up watching their parents as alcohol abusers. Not all, but some, decide to stay far away from drinking. They go in an extreme opposite direction where they don’t touch anything. A good example would be radio host Bobby Bones, who hosts one of the most popular Country music morning shows in Nashville. His mother had a lot of drug problems with alcohol being the primary one. Because of that Bobby Bones has not only never drunk alcohol, but has never touched coffee either. Anything that he can get addicted to that may not be safe, he stays away from because he has an extremist personality.

Is Leia an extremist? On the outside I would argue that she isn’t. But Leia is very passionate – and passion can eventually turn into extremism if you let it (look at all of us wonderful Star Wars fans!). She risked her life for the Rebellion numerous times, a cause that she was very passionate about. The Rebellion is, after all, a group of extremists.

Perhaps Leia knew herself well enough to instead channel her passion into politics after the Empire was destroyed.  She was given two choices: cultivate the Force within her and follow a Jedi path or focus on politics and rebuilding a government in an unstable galaxy. Knowing who her father was probably shook her to the core and she did not want to go down that path. Perhaps, who knows, maybe she saw something dark within her, similar to Anakin. Or maybe she didn’t want to chance it and take that bet.

Instead Leia ended up with moments of feeling the Force within her life, similar to when she turned around and rescued Luke after the Bespin incident. New canon comics list her as having random Force visions, some of her mother and Darth Maul. And here, in the scene I based my haiku off of, she feels Han’s death acutely.

 

Do you think Leia made the right choice? Should she have learned more of the Force? Do you think that could have helped prevent Ben going to the dark side?

Costuming & Characters: Part I – Princess Leia (Essay)

How do costumes define the characters in Star Wars?  This idea has been mulling around in my head for a while, since I had a brief discussion with Mei Mei in the comments of my blog on planets.  This is more of an essay than a blog post, but well worth the read if you’re interested.  I promise my posts on Luke and Han will be much shorter as there is not as much to discuss.

I think Lucas made very deliberate choices with his costumes on each of the three main characters in the original trilogy and made sure that what they were clothed in also reflected either a) their personality, b) their development as a character, or c) their environment.  The latter is the most obvious and almost always true, but I think it’s interesting how color and shape can also dictate a deeper look into who they are.

So I decided to split this up into a three part series and examine the most obvious choices of characters: Luke, Leia, and Han.  I know nothing about costume fabrics so that area will remain untouched.

On the surface, Princess Leia’s costumes remain almost always the same in terms of color.  In the entirety of A New Hope, she is wearing white.  There is only one costume change and that comes in during the last two minutes of the movie.

During the Empire Strikes Back, she steps it up a notch and has four costume changes.  She starts off with this one piece, white snowsuit with an off-white vest.  This is a slight change from ANH, as this is a pant snowsuit and not a dress, paired with almost knee-high boots (grey/white color).  She stays in that for the majority of the movie, until she gets to Bespin, where she changes into a deep red long sleeve short dress, with matching pants underneath and a tan vest/long sleeveless cloak.  She’s only in this briefly; as soon as Solo is captured, she is once again in her pant snowsuit, without the matching vest.  This time she is in white heels as opposed to boots.  At the end of the movie, she is surprisingly back in the same dress we see her in for the majority of ANH.

The Return of the Jedi sees five costume changes, but I am going to ignore her disguise as Boushh as that was her imposing as someone else.  If we ignore Boushh, she starts off in the famous metal bikini made of gold and maroon colors with grey shoes.  She transitions to her Endor outfit with light blue pants, black boots, tan shirt and grey vest, but while on Endor she dons a camouflage cape to blend in with the forest.  When with the Ewoks, she has a tan, rustic, homespun brown dress before she changes back into Endor gear, before finally ending the movie with the Ewok dress once again.

Now we have a good foundation at looking at Leia as a character and understanding how her costumes reflect her.

The first thing that always comes to mind with Leia and her costumes are:

  • She has many white costumes, and
  • Her costumes do not reveal a lot of skin, barring the slave costume which I will get into later.

Throughout mythology, white symbolizes goodness, purity, and light.  It is associated with perfection and safety.  Most of the time, it has a positive connotation.  This makes sense for Leia’s character, as Lucas wants us to see her as the Princess in need of rescuing in the first film.  This could also be why he puts her in a dress; as the Trilogy continues, Leia is more often found in pants.  He follows the standard fairytale format in ANH with a princess trapped away and a boy who rescue her (though, once she’s out of her cell, it seems like she does more the rescuing).  It’s way more nuanced than that but you understand the gist of it.  It wouldn’t make sense to dress Leia in any color other than white for the first film.

As we progress to the second and third film, there is more of a shift in her colors, though I would say that in ESB, she still is firmly in the white category.  The red dress-like costume when she is in Bespin is an abnormality, but it’s easy to see why.  cloud city red

When thinking of red in your daily life, what do you think?  Stop.  Danger.  Warning.  Love.  Seduction, at times.  Courage, at times.  We can tie her Cloud City costume back to her feelings of Lando.  Leia even clearly says, “I don’t trust Lando.”  Her costume is wrapped up in her feelings of Lando and his carnal feelings for her.  The red from her point of view symbolizes mistrust, her sense of danger over the whole situation.  For Lando, he sees the red dress and it plays to seduction and that she wants to be wooed by him.  It generates a lustful feeling for him.  Notice how quickly Leia pulls in the lighter, long cloak as soon as Lando enters and looks her up and down?  I believe Lucas paired the red dress with the white cloak to remind us that she is still a pure, good, and safe character.  It allows Leia to pull herself into safety despite her mistrust of Lando.

As soon as Lando’s betrayal is revealed and Han is captured by Boba and the Empire, Leia is once again put into the white costume.  There’s no more questioning of her character; she is back in control and a strong beacon of light.

Why does she end in the same dress she was in during most of ANH then?  I’ve tried analyzing this but have come up short on a satisfactory explanation.  We can’t really say she’s come full circle, as this is clearly the middle chapter of the story.  I like to think that she’s dressed in that outfit that was pre-Han because Han has been taken away and we don’t know if he’ll be brought back safe.  It’s still white, but it’s a symbol of Leia alone.  Again, not happy with this, so if anyone has better ideas, please share.

As we head into Return of the Jedi, I want to talk about how conservative Leia’s clothes have been thus far.  None of them have been revealing and I think that reflects on her as a very guarded, in control person.  She has a high position in helping run the Rebellion against the Empire and does not have time for a personal life.  Princess Leia is not the let-her-hair-down (figuratively and literally) kind of girl.  She’s definitely a little uptight, or as Han would like to say, “could use a good kiss.”  Her clothing reflects that strong and guarded woman.

The one time we see her in a pretty revealing outfit is…you guessed it…the slave costume in Return of the Jedi.  I wrote leia and jabbaabout this outfit in a previous post, arguing that this outfit is not quite a sexist as some would like to believe.  In a nutshell, the reasoning is that Leia was put into this costume against her will.  This forced bikini outfit represents Leia’s vulnerability at this moment in the Original Trilogy.  Up until she is at Jabba’s Palace, we have always seen Leia in control of situations.  In ANH she ran the entire show, got everyone out of the Death Star alive, and got Artoo back to the Rebellion in one piece with the stolen plans.  In ESB, she was one of the last to leave the base and the only time she sat back was when Han took them to Cloud City – and we saw how that turned out.  But never in the entire OT do we see her stripped of her ability to have an opinion, voice, or control.  The bikini shows this like no other costume can.

The muted colors of Leia’s slave outfit are a representation of Jabba’s hold on her.  There is no white in this costume, the lightest color are the shoes, which are a dark grey.  Gold is most commonly paired with wealth, riches, and affluence.  Of course that’s what Jabba is trying to portray.  He has a rich new toy (who better than a Princess of Alderaan and leader of the Rebellion?) and he wants to show it off.  Why not deck her out in the finest?

As soon as Leia is back with the Rebellion and Jabba is dead, she once more puts on conservative clothes.  The clothes are definitely on the lighter side of the spectrum, but they are not white.  I believe the camouflage cloak is clearly designed for practical, environmental purposes and will not go into that.  As the movie continues, she never wears white again, except once as a shirt underneath the Ewok dress.  We have left the monochromatic Leia behind and have begun to see a Leia with changes in her life.

The Ewok dress is a brown color.  Yes, it was probably made from earthy materials and environmentally influenced, but it could also reflect the way her life as she knew it is changing.

She’s falling for Han.  Hard.  She learns that Luke is her brother and her father is *gasp* Darth Vader.  Knowing that she leia and hanhas Sith in her now, perhaps Lucas wanted to reflect that with these colors that almost seem like water and earth running together.  Pure water (the light, white, pure Leia) and muddy dirt (knowing she has Sith/evil in her blood) mirrors her transition as a character.  She ends the Trilogy in the brown dress which makes sense with the white peeking out.  She’s no longer the character that she was in ANH.

We see through Leia’s costumes a passage of a character that speaks volumes.  I don’t think she ever loses her goodness, strength and purity.  But she does change, especially in Return of the Jedi where we see her attachment to Han and learns about her true family history.  Lucas was smart to have her costumes mirror the change internally in an external fashion (pun!).

If you made it through this whole essay, let me know what you think about Leia and her costumes.  Did you notice something that maybe I did not bring up?  What was I right about?  What was I wrong on?

Scene it on Friday – ESB Scene #65

Lando you belong with us in the clouds

Your comments on my last post was SO much fun to read.  It definitely seems like ESB was the strongest contender for converting folks to Star Wars.  It definitely was the case for me and four other commenters.  We then had a ROTJ, ANH, TPM, and AOTC.

I find it so interesting that AOTC converted someone to Star Wars!  As you all know, it’s my least favorite of the Star Wars movies and I find it painful to watch at times.  Reading that comment from Matt (Welcome! If you decide to come back to my blog, we’ll welcome you with open arms!) kind of put me in my place regarding AOTC.  I always say that I don’t care how people came to love Star Wars, as long as they get there.  But I was surprised that someone should love it so much that it leads to the other Star Wars movies…however, why should I be when I’m probably one of the strongest defenders of TPM?

Oh, and can all of you guys please buy tickets to Celebration so we can all meet up and have a happy WordPress Star Wars party.  PLEASE???

Anyway, let’s Scene It guys.

Lando a little refreshment

At this point, we get a feeling that Leia doesn’t trust Lando very much.  Funnily, if you think back on their interactions and how the reception has been, there’s no real reason not to trust him.  Other than Leia thinking he was a little too welcoming/friendly when they first arrived, Lando has been nothing but a perfect gentleman (okay, a little creepy at times, but I think it’s supposed to be in a Clark Gable kind of way).

The only thing that Leia has to go off of is when she asked Han if he trusts Lando, back when they were about to float away with the garbage.  Han answers a negative but I thought he seemed to kind of reassure him when he told Leia that Lando has no love for the Empire.

Chewie Threepio dismantled cloud cityAfter reviewing all of this in my head, I’m surprised at how quickly she turns down Han’s offer to have Lando’s people fix Threepio.  The thought did cross my mind that maybe she doesn’t trust his people with Threepio since Threepio is a huge blabbermouth.  He would probably reveal all the Rebellion’s secrets (or the little he knows) under enough pressure.  Or, she’s suspicious of how he randomly got destroyed and realizes that when Threepio comes back around, you don’t want him speaking to Lando’s people about what happened.

But, no.  I think it’s Lando himself and that she doesn’t want anything to do with Lando.  Sure, she’s smart and the other factors probably contribute in her self-conscious but I think that her reaction was more along a gut reaction.  Lando?  No thank you.  I’m not sure if it was a woman’s instinct or an I’ve-been-part-of-the-Rebellion-my-whole-life-and-know-when-something’s-not-right instinct, but she had him pegged before any of the showdown with Vader.

So why doesn’t Han, who knows Lando better, suspect anything?  Is his rapport with Lando actually a hindrance so that Lando knows how to pull the wool over his eyes?  In this script, it says that Han looks suspiciously at Lando when he invites them to eat, but I never read it like that in the film.  I thought it was always Leia who was the suspicious one.

When Lando does enter the room, he becomes the flatterer again, but I think he just ends up putting Leia off guard and it comes out a little creepy instead of well-meant.  Which probably just raises her red flags even more.  Nice going, Lando.

Finally, the last line that Han says as they leave the room, denying that there’s a problem with Threepio shows that even Han can’t think fast all the time.  So funny.  It’s like if I was trying to start my car in the freezing cold weather and it wouldn’t start (yes, this has happened quite frequently lately), but I was asked, “Having trouble with your car?” and I denied it.  Hahaha.

Lando Leia cloud city

INTERIOR: CLOUD CITY — LIVING QUARTERS — DAY

The door zaps open. Chewbacca walks in, carrying a packing case of Threepio, arms and legs hanging over the edge.

LEIA: What happened?

Chewie sets the case on a table, grunting and groaning an explanation.

HAN: Where? Found him in a junk pile?

LEIA: Oh, what a mess. Chewie, do you think you can repair him?

The giant Wookiee studies the array of robot parts. He looks at the princess and shrugs sadly.

HAN: Lando’s got people who can fix him.

LEIA: No, thanks.

There is a buzz and the door slides open, revealing Lando.

LANDO: I’m sorry. Am I interrupting anything?

LEIA: Not really.

LANDO: You look absolutely beautiful. You truly belong here with us among the clouds.

LEIA: (coolly) Thank you.

LANDO: Will you join me for a little refreshment?

Han looks at Lando suspiciously, but Chewie barks at the mention of food and licks his lips.

LANDO: Everyone’s invited, of course.

Leia takes Lando’s proffered arm, and the group turns to go. Lando spots Threepio’s remains.

LANDO: Having trouble with you droid?

Han and Leia exchange a quick glance.

HAN: No. No problem. Why?

Han and Leia move arm-in-arm through the door, followed by Lando and Chewie. The door slides closed behind them.

Lando: The Old Smoothie

I haven’t written much about Lando Calrissian…mostly because I don’t like him.  I don’t like that he turned Han over to the Empire and even though he redeemed himself pretty fast, I still never had strong feelings for him.  I don’t know – I just got scumbag vibes from Lando and could never relate to him.

But this past weekend’s painting in my 365 day calendar made me rethink some of what I previously thought.

Lando Calrissian getting strangled by Vader

When Vader is revealed to the Rebels at Cloud City, Lando says to Han, “I had no choice.  They arrived right before you did.  I’m sorry.”  I always got so angry at him when he said that because, in my naïve way of thinking, I thought that everyone always has a choice.  Which, essentially, is true but it’s not that simple.

I realize now that sometimes your choice is life or you-better-do-what-they-want-or-you-might-be-killed.  What kind of choice is that?  How hard is it to stand up for what you believe is right?  Would I have the guts to do it?  Would you have the guts to do it?  Look at Malala.  Someone so young stood up for something she believes in, even after the local Taliban Leader (the Empire) said all female education had to cease.  Youth may make you invincible, but I still think that if I was threatened at that age, I would shut the hell up and not say a word.

I admire people like Malala, the Luke Skywalker’s in real life…and it’s probably because I may not have that heroic streak in me.  I’m a very by-the-books person and I’m beginning to relate to Lando.

Looking at this picture, I see that maybe he didn’t have a choice.  Vader wants Luke and Fett wants Han.  Vader agreed that in getting Luke, he would leave Cloud City and the Tibanna operations alone forever.  Is that such a hard deal to agree to?  Even when someone is strangling you?

On top of that, Lando had slowly begun to give up his scoundrel ways and had become a somewhat respected administrator of Cloud City.  He also had to think about his people when making a large decision and keeping the Empire out of their hair was probably the best choice for everyone.

Further, were Han and Lando really that close?  The movies lead us lando and han soloto believe that there is little trust between them to begin with and they know each other from their shady, dishonest pasts.   So there would be little love lost in turning him into the Empire.  Sure, he was a friend once, but a close one?  Maybe not.

Yes, his feelings could have changed a little once he saw he had a girlfriend and Chewie was still with him, but he probably thought Vader would stick to his deal.  And the deal was worth it to him.

The funny thing about all this is that what angers Lando is not so much how they treat Han, even though that is a byproduct, but the fact that the Empire “alters” the deal they had with him. “This deal’s getting worse all the time,” is one of his famous lines.

lando turning on the empireAt what point did Lando crack?  At what point did his anger and frustration with the Empire make him realize that even the original deal had not been worth it?  He contacts Lobot when Luke appears – but was it building up and that was a good time to turn coat?  Or did the appearance of Luke make him question the deal?

If we look closer at Lando’s transition into the Rebellion, we notice he never agreed to join the Rebellion right away.  He agrees to help save Han from Jabba the Hutt.  (By the way, does anyone else think it’s weird how easily Han accepts him in ROTJ?  Dude, last time you saw him, he had betrayed you and frozen you in carbonite!)  Then after saving Han, he transitions into becoming a General in Rebellion.

In the end, Lando plays a crucial role in helping the Rebellion defeat the Empire but I’m much more sympathetic to his character now than I was a week ago.  I still have hesitations and disbeliefs in terms of how quickly the Rebellion accepted him, but I understand why he turned over Han to Boba and the Empire.  And, it almost saddens me to say this, I’m not sure I would have done anything differently.

general lando

Scene it on Friday – ESB Scene #75

Scene it on Friday – ESB Scene #75

Three thoughts.  No more, no less.

I think that Luke was drawn to the Chamber from the moment he entered Cloud City and the Force was guiding him there.  When I was younger, I always thought it was such a nice coincidence that Luke happened to stumble upon Vader right away, but as I grow older I have begun to think differently.  Luke claimed he was running off to Bespin to save Han and Leia from what he saw in his vision, but he was so willingly drawn to the Chamber.  I think Yoda and Obi-Wan knew this would happen and knew he would face Vader.

I like how the script describes Luke as feeling “confident” and “eager” to confront Darth Vader and I find that to be a bit foolish of him.  I have to keep in mind, though, that this is his first confrontation not only with Vader, but also since he’s started his training.  And I believe Vader knows that Luke is feeling overconfident so he jabs him with the statement that he is not a Jedi yet.  Ouch.  It’s like preparing so hard for the Olympics, only to be told you aren’t really professional yet.

The last thing about this scene that always made me angry was the fact that Luke attacked first.  Jedi do not engage first!  Why did he do that?  Did he sense an attack?  Did he know the attack was inevitable?  Does it show that he really is not a Jedi yet because he can’t have patience?  Was he just dangerously close to the dark side in this moment?  Was his overconfidence his weakness?  This part has always bothered me.  I understand in ROTJ when he attacks the Emperor…clearly the Emperor was goading him on and making him angry.  I guess I just don’t understand why he would attack Vader when he is fresh off of his training.  Now, keep in mind, I think there is difference between igniting your lightsaber and attacking with it.  I feel like igniting is being on the defensive, being prepared.  You could argue that just by igniting it you are welcoming an attack, but I still don’t think a Jedi should go on the offensive.  Even Yoda said earlier in the movie, “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”  Tut, tut Luke.

Luke and Prowse ESB lightsaber fight

INTERIOR: CLOUD CITY — CARBON-FREEZING CHAMBER — ANTEROOM

Luke cautiously walks forward among hissing pipes and steam. Seeing an opening above him, he stops to look up. As he does, the platform he stands on begins to move.

INTERIOR: CLOUD CITY — CARBON-FREEZING CHAMBER

Luke rises into the chamber, borne by the platform. The room is deathly quiet. Very little steam escapes the pipes and no one else seems to be in the large room. Warily, Luke walks toward the stairway.

Steam begins to build up in the chamber. Looking up through the steam, Luke sees a dark figure standing on a walkway above him. Luke holsters his gun and moves up the stairs to face Vader. He feels confident, eager to engage his enemy.

VADER: The Force is with you, young Skywalker. But you are not a Jedi yet.

Luke ignites his sword in answer. In an instant, Vader’s own sword is lit. Luke lunges, but Vader repels the blow.  Again Luke attacks, and the swords of the two combatants clash in battle.