The Kingdom of God

I’ve been sitting and reworking and writing blog posts for the past two weeks that would help describe the changes that have gone on within me but also try to help make sense of the horrible massacre that happened last week. I’ve scrapped almost all of them. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable sharing them, but I also like to keep this blog only about Star Wars. I usually save personal thoughts for one time of year – my year end blog posts.

In the end, this post became a mishmash of personal reflections and also Star Wars, so bear with the scattered feel to it.

Here is the one main change that happened, followed by two other thoughts.

  1. I read a wonderful book called The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg that has changed the way I think about my life and faith in God/Jesus.
  2. The massacre in Vegas happened. It could have been any horrible, human-led event honestly that changed a bit in me, but it happened to be this one and it was a doozy.
  3. These two events culminated in me thinking about the Kingdom of God and where the Jedi failed.

 

Sometimes, the way you stumble upon something can be labeled as divine influence, and that may be what happened with The Heart of Christianity. I had never heard of Marcus Borg before I was asked by a client to go into her Audible account and purchase a book on her wish list. While scrolling and trying to find that book, I saw The Heart of Christianity sitting in there. I clicked the link, read the description, and thought “That’s an interesting premise,” and of course I didn’t think about it for days. But then, one day I did think about it. I’m not sure why. There was no rhyme or reason but something compelled me to read that book.

I got it out of the library and devoured it.

I was raised very conservative, Protestant Christian. The Bible is fact, it’s an undeniable truth, and some people go to heaven and some people go to hell. I call myself a Christian, but…I wanted a fresh take on Christianity. It had gone stale for me. I have had trouble praying, finding God in my life and understanding where this all fits in the big picture of life. That’s not to say I didn’t try – I still read my Bible a few times a week and attempted prayer, but I wouldn’t say Christianity was a daily “thing” for me.

This changed when I read the book by Marcus Borg. I don’t agree with everything he said and there are some parts that are questionable, but I would say I’m a changed person after reading this book.

One thing that really stuck with me was his concept of the Kingdom of God. I was raised to believe that the Kingdom of God was something “up there” or, more precisely: heaven/afterlife. Borg argues that when you focus on the Kingdom of God as heaven, or something for after we die, you miss a crucial point that is essential to historic Christianity (i.e., the time when Jesus was speaking to everyone and the few hundred years following). Jesus argues that the Kingdom of God is the future…but also the present. With the historical context that is often lost on modern day United States – Jesus used the word “Kingdom” because that is the political sphere they were under. They were living under Roman rule, a kingdom under Caesar. When Jesus was telling us to pray “thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven,” he was asking us to imagine what life would be like in the present day and moment with God as king.

There is a lot more about the argument Borg makes, but for now, I will just go into how it changed my life. Essentially, when you think of God as our king and bring his kingdom into our daily life, then treating others as you would yourself makes a lot more sense to me. It becomes a community action. You cannot have a kingdom without a community of people. Treating others as you would like to be treated is Jesus’ number two command, after loving the Lord with all your heart. But what if we all did it? By doing so, we make this a social action, a call to arms for this community of people (NB: I did not say believers). Politics within this kingdom would call for being compassionate to others, loving all of creation, perhaps exercising more patience with each person we meet in our daily walk.

This opened my eyes – realizing the Kingdom of God could be in heaven but also here on Earth and we can create it every day.

I realized that this community action needs to begin with us, within our homes. I read a post by epicipseity few weeks ago where he wrote that somewhere in this country, someone is raising their child to have them believe that white people are the dominant and best race. It struck me like a blow. I have a child who is almost a year and a half old and she understands so much of what I say. Within two years I will be able to teach her things that she will take as law and truth without questioning.

So how do I battle against someone who grows up thinking that? I hope to teach my daughter that loving others, even when it’s hard, is the best way to heal this community. That we need to go into our community and make a difference by being kind to everyone you meet, even if you don’t like them.

You might say – oh that’s such a wussy way of thinking. There’s so much MORE you can do.

Oh, trust me, I know there is more I and we can do. But can you imagine if we taught our children love instead of hate? If we really instilled in them that every person could be someone in need of a kind word or gesture? We’d make a community one step closer to the Kingdom of God.

These thoughts piled around in my head when I heard about the Vegas shooting last week. I thought to myself, “What if more people treated this shooter kindly?” That thought alone is weird…I would never have thought that prior to reading Borg’s works. Have we, as a society, become too distant and exclusive? Have we ignored people on the street too much?

The shooter’s brother, said, “Something horrible happened to my brother and whatever happened to him in his head, it made him go over the edge like this.”

Could that something horrible have been something simple, like someone just flipping him the bird in traffic? And that set him off?

Now – how does this relate to Star Wars? It does, because everything in my life can somehow be traced back to Star Wars (is that sad? I don’t know).

For over a thousand generations, the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice. In a way, their task was to bring the Kingdom of God to the galaxy. They wanted peace and they wanted fairness and they wanted equality. It didn’t matter what species or race you were, they were there to help.

But the Jedi were wiped out, for the most part. They failed. They succeeded for a bit, but then they failed. It’s easy to pinpoint their demise on Anakin – he is the literal reason for being extinguished. But there was a lot more at work than only Anakin when you look beneath the surface.

One of the strongest reasons why I think they failed was their exclusivism and their way of being untouchable, in a sense. They helped when called upon, instead of trying to step up to the plate to prevent situations in the first place. In a way, they had gotten proud.

It’s kind and wonderful when we give other people help when they call upon us for our assistance. How much more important would it be if we could make it so that no one would ever have to ask for our help because we were always there? It would always be a team effort, like Baze and Chirrut.

I understand that physically, it would be impossible for the Jedi to be on every planet, but why have only a central place on Coruscant? Why not have the Jedi set up shop on different planets in the galaxy? Can you imagine how much more effective that would be? Living and getting to know the people of a planet instead of doing a one-stop help and then peaceing out?

Another reason they failed is that they were brought down by a member from within the Order. Their internal disagreements led to slight fractures. When a member was questioning the Order and not understanding his place, instead of welcoming the discussion, they shut it down.

I see this often at the church my parents attended. There was right (their way, based on the literal Bible) and there was wrong (any other interpretation you could have).

Why have so many people left Christianity? Because from the outside they see it in a similar way I was brought up – all questions can be answered within the Bible, but there is only one correct interpretation. Basically: there is right and wrong. Who wants to join a religion where exploratory questions are shunned?

When Anakin vents his frustrations to Obi-Wan about being put in a position that he didn’t even ask to be put in, Obi-Wan tells him off saying, “But it’s what you wanted!” Anakin continues to question the Order, wondering why things are not the way he thinks they should be. I don’t think Obi-Wan really understand the internal dilemma and battle that is going on within Anakin. If he did, he would know that it was not the right time to ask him to spy on Palpatine.

Lastly, the Jedi failed because they were too much like Mace Windu and not enough like Ahsoka.  Most Jedi lacked compassion. They helped others because they were told to help others. Would they do it on their own without the council guiding them? Because that marks a true Jedi….a little like being told to go to church, do right and help others, instead of honestly believing that being compassionate and attending church to help you to grow as a person will help our society.

They raised their younglings to be separate, apart, exclusive, and distant. They also told them to be kind, to think of others, and to do what was right. But I’m not sure I ever saw real, true compassion in most of the Jedi. I view Ahsoka as one of the best Jedi’s, up there with Qui-Gon Jinn. Ahsoka was one of the most compassionate Jedi I have seen in all of Star Wars. If I had to pick Jedi that could be capable of bringing the Kingdom of God into the galaxy, Ahsoka and Qui-Gon would lead.

If we were more patient with the way we treat others and demonstrate love as much as possible, would there be less shootings and less violence?

Yes and yes. I know and firmly believe this with all my being.

I challenge you to think about in everyday – what kind of Jedi do you want to be? Are you too proud and not compassionate enough? Do you view the world as your way or the highway?  How can you bring the Kingdom of God into your daily life? How can you show compassion? And with those individual changes, how will that bring changes to our society as a whole?

 

 

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How Star Wars Made Me Who I Am Today

On the surface, Star Wars is a story about good versus evil.  It can seem simplistic to anyone who does not delve into the lair of the Sarlacc to find out as much as possible about the saga.

But it’s so much more than that as any fan can attest to.  It’s changed our lives to a varying degree or has been a guiding point for some of us throughout our life.

I was faced with a tough situation recently that brought the wisdom of Star Wars to the forefront of my mind.  I began to think about the way Star Wars has helped me throughout my years since I began to be obsessed with it.

 

Ages 8-10

This was when I first started getting into Star Wars.  Only the OT was available at that point and I used Star Wars to understand the classic good versus evil.  I was more simplistic back then and when I thought about “life” as a whole, it was black and white.

luke yoda training

What helped me the most was the part in ESB where Luke asks Yoda:

“Is the dark side stronger?”

“No… no… no.  Quicker, easier, more seductive.”

“But how am I to know the good side from the bad?”

“You will know.  When you are calm, at peace.”

So simple, but just what I needed at that point in my life.  Luke asks the point blank question on if the dark side is stronger and Yoda doesn’t give a wishy-washy answer.  The answer was no.

 

Pre-Teens (10-12)

I began to get restless at this age.  I understood there was more out there but I couldn’t quite grasp it yet.  I got antsy and frustrated.  Middle school was crueler, harder.  TPM came out when I was 11 and that’s when I began again to look at not just good versus evil, but being a better person as well.

qui gon and obi wanIt was the Jedi who guided me at this point.  Being introduced to the Jedi Council and hearing Qui-Gon Jinn’s advice to Obi-Wan encouraged me to pretend that I was also a Jedi Apprentice.

I also watched Luke’s journey more closely, understanding that he took a hard journey to become the Jedi that we knew him to be at the end of ROTJ.  It’s not always easy to do right, but it’s what you should do.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but during this time I kept a “Jedi Journal”.  Each day I would write down ways where I failed to live up the Jedi standard and how to improve.  Looking back, it sounds a little extreme, but it did help me become a lot more aware of my actions.

 

Angsty Teens (13-18)

I think this was one of the hardest parts of my life as the bullying began in middle school and I tried to find my place in high school.  I was different, nerdy, strange, and openly known as being obsessed with Star Wars.  Getting up and going to school was so difficult in the beginning, but gradually it became easier as people realized I didn’t care what they thought.  My friends were my friends because they liked me, not what I wore or what I loved.  That’s not to say I didn’t struggle – but I think this time period taught me to find myself and remain firm.

I had my first boyfriend whom I went out with for 2.5 years in high school and I remember he struggled with going out with *me*.  He was more padme leiapopular than I was, fit in more, and many people couldn’t understand why he would want to be with me.  (Yes, I know, looking back, I’m not sure why I stayed with him that long but hindsight is 20/20.)  In turn, that made me feel more out of place because I wasn’t necessarily accepted by his friends and my friends also felt uncomfortable around him.  It was a strange, isolating experience.

I gravitated towards the women of Star Wars during this time period: Padmé and Leia.  I liked how Amidala was in TPM, strong and just didn’t give a hoot what others thought about her decisions.  I loved Leia’s spunk and how she was a princess, Han a smuggler, and yet they still ended up together.  Each woman knew they were smart and didn’t care what people thought of them.

 

College (18-23)

For the first time in my life, I don’t think I stayed true to myself during my freshman year of college.  I had a roommate who loved to party and I thought that was what I was supposed to do too.  I went out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights…even when all I wanted to do was stay in and watch a movie.  I dabbled with different men and learned how to look “hot”.  She was cruel, judgmental, and selfish, yet I thought that somehow translated to confident when it was anything but.  By hanging out with her so much, I also became similar to her than I like to admit.

star wars saga

I remember being home in between freshman and sophomore year for summer and feeling so much more relaxed.  I realized I hadn’t watched Star Wars once during that freshman year.  I had given up on my Hyperspace/starwars.com blog and had let my love for Star Wars fade.  I began watching the movies again and also realized how far I had strayed from whom I was.  Me…who had always prided myself in staying true to my roots.   Yes, people knew I loved Star Wars, it’s not like I hid it, but I had forgotten why I loved it.  That’s the most essential puzzle piece to being the level of fan that I am.

I went back into sophomore year with an effort to be more of who I was.  I had the same roommate (really bad call) and it hit the fan pretty fast, but I’m proud that I stuck to my gut feeling that I wasn’t the person I wanted to be when I was with her.  Our “friendship” fell apart and our time together was an icy standoff for the remaining 5 months of sophomore year.

As I separated myself from her and her lifestyle, the rest of my college ride went pretty smoothly.  I did not party as much, I studied more and had a few boyfriends.  The nicest of those men was a scoundrel who is now my husband.

 

The Dawn of Marriage (23-28)

Being married has come with way more difficulties than people ever tell you.  Or perhaps they try to tell you but you believe your love is the strongest ever and it’s not hard at all.  Marriage is hard work and it’s hard work every single day.  Some days are not so hard, but other days are the hardest thing in the world.  Yet, it’s rewarding and gratifying at the same time if you give it patience and watch it grow like a young plant.

anakin and padmeI’ve realized in the past 5 years that good and evil are not so clear cut as I may have thought when I was growing up.  Being an exemplary Jedi is not as easy as I thought either.  Sometimes we struggle or don’t do what we know we should do.

Rewatching the saga during my marriage has made me realize more than a few things, but it’s been Anakin’s turn to the dark side that has always stayed with me.

Anakin goes to the dark side to save Padmé.  I might not have seen the significance of this when ROTS first came out, but I get it more now.  Anakin is not really doing what is wrong in his eyes because to him — it’s an act of selflessness.  He will do anything to save the woman he loves and is there anything wrong with that?  Yes, obviously we know there is, but it makes me feel for him.  I realize that sometimes our choices seem right to us and they make sense, but you’re caught up in a mess of mynocks before you can change your mind.  At that point, you just roll with it and it gets harder and harder to get out.

Which is why it’s good to have a support system and be truthful with your spouse.  Whenever Padmé and Anakin began to get into a conversation where honesty could have changed their future, it flat lined and they avoided digging deeper.  The secrets they hid from each other, never mind keeping their relationship a secret from the outside world, put a large strain on their marriage.  I see that and am reminded of how fragile a marriage, or any relationship, is unless you are both honest and keep communication flowing.

 

Present Day (28-?)

Recently, I’ve seen some of my friends go through hard times in their own marriage, with discussions of divorce and counseling circulating.  They ask for advice, but really, who am I to give it?  It’s not my relationship and the problems they have are not ones I have so it’s hard for me to relate.  The one line I keep coming back to is when Luke wants to change Han’s mind in ANH but Leia says,

He’s got to follow his own path. No one can choose it for him.

I can only be here for my friends, I can’t fight a war for them and I most certainly cannot give advice.  Nor do I want to.  They have to follow their own path and make their own decisions, no one else can do that.

There are also a few things already at work within me since TFA was released.  I find myself emulating Rey in the most random of circumstances.  As I work on moving things out of the guest bedroom to make way for a new family member, I find myself doing a lot more than I used to.  I’ve been trying to figure out power tools, installing shelves myself, and I even did half of the diaper changing table before my husband woke up!  It’s this small voice in the back that says, “I bet Rey would have been able to do this herself.”

rey at home on jakku

I’m entering a new stage of my life right now.  I can feel my little Jedi kicking within me and wonder how Star Wars will continue to shape my life.  How can I show her to be self-sufficient like Rey?  To be smart like Padmé?  To not care what other people think?  To work for justice and peace in our galaxy?  To know good versus evil?

How will I pull from Star Wars to continue to change my life and possibly hers, even if it’s indirectly?

 

Luke and the Dark Side

While writing my analysis of Luke’s costumes through the Original Trilogy, an interesting question presented itself.

Do you think Luke would have turned to the dark side had he not known Leia was his sister?

I’m looking at this in a way of Luke having no family that he knew of at all.  Leia can still be in the picture, but only as a friend at this point, not even a romantic interest.

Luke finds out about Leia being his sister right before he goes to confront his father.  I know that in the end, it looks like Leia could be the string that unravels it all.  When Vader finds out Luke has a sister and uses it as bait, Luke goes crazy.  The thought of Leia being turned brings him perilously close to the dark side; some could even argue that he enters the dark side as he lashes out against Vader (one of my favorite lightsaber battles).

You could argue that Leia brought him closer to the dark side.  He had attachment to her at this point, something Yoda of the Prequels would admonish him for.  But could this attachment also have saved him?

Luke and leia discussing motherHe now had an immediate family member, something Luke had never had his entire life until finding out about Vader being his father…and that’s not really the family you always wished for.  In a way, Leia is holding him accountable, subconsciously, to come back after he is done confronting Vader.  She was the last person he spoke to and saw before leaving for the Death Star.

If Leia was out of the picture, would the Emperor have been able to turn him?  He was so, so close with the talk of Luke’s “pitiful friends” and the trap that was laid out for them.  Luke was the first to go on the offense at the Emperor’s goading.

When Vader found out about a sister, it was because Luke was trying so hard to *not* think about Leia.  He didn’t want Vader to know about her for fear that Vader would, of course, try to lure her to the dark side too (though, personally, I think Leia is has a stronger personality and wouldn’t have been swayed).

So taking Leia out, would it have been easier for him to turn?  Pointless thoughts, I know, since that’s not what happened, but it made me think that perhaps Luke’s strength in the Force comes from love for family.  If Vader was the only family member he knew, maybe he would have been more easily tempted to join him and take down the Emperor.  Perhaps Leia was holding him back as a reminder of the light side of the Force.

Care to discuss?

Book Review: A New Dawn

a new dawn book cover

First of all, if anyone wants my copy of A New Dawn, I will gladly send it your way for free.  Yup, I’ll pay for shipping too.  If I’m not going to read a book again, I like to share the love and give it to someone else who may appreciate it.  And from there, I hope the book karma continues.

A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller follows the life of Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla before they had formed the crew of Ghost as we know it in Star Wars Rebels.  The novel shows how they met and how they decided to stay together as a team.  Watching SWR, I always loved Kanan and Hera’s relationship.  They have a great friendship and my hope is that Disney does not take it in the direction of a romantic relationship only because I think that it’s so rare to see examples of male/female friendships on TV and in movies…so I love seeing this one that works.  And it works so well.

But how did it get to that point?  When did they first meet?  That’s what A New Dawn goes to show us.  The novel has its moments, and I enjoyed some of it, but there were parts that really bothered me as well.

**Spoiler Warning**

We start off by following Kanan and learning that he’s kind of this lone ranger guy (didn’t see that coming).  He works hard at very standard, physical jobs but doesn’t stick around in a place long enough to make lasting friends.  At one such job, there’s a man named Skelly, a former Clone Wars veteran who knows how to build explosives and understands the workings of the planet Cynda and the damage the Empire is doing to it by mining out thorilide.  Kanan realizes it’s finally time to start leaving this planet because he’s been there too long when the Empire starts showing a special interest in its raw material and sends Count Vidian (cue bad guy music) there to make use of it.  Skelly makes a mess of things and Kanan is forced to stick around a little longer than he would have liked, and by mistake, gets attached to Skelly as the story goes on.

Hera enters the story because she is already part of the Rebellion and they want her to find out what Count Vidian’s up to.  Now, it might not officially be the Rebellion yet, but let’s keep it at that for simplicity’s sake.  As she follows around Count Vidian, she inevitably meets up with Kanan and Skelly where they have a bunch of adventures trying to stop Vidian from destroying Cynda.  Skelly dies, as does Vidian (naturally), and Kanan and Hera go off and form a team together.  Though reluctant to have Kanan as her partner, as she also operates alone in missions, Hera does eventually give in and see the advantage of having Kanan with her due to his personality, ethics, and quick thinking in tight spots.  Having the Force probably helps too.

There’s the basic story.  My real thoughts are:

Pros:

  • Kanan and Hera’s relationship stayed strictly as friends. You can tell Kanan wants something more and finds her SloaneKananattractive, but Hera keeps him at a good distance.  Going into this novel, I was most worried about a romantic back story, but none of that happened.
  • A good amount of female characters. We see a female commanding officer of a Star Destroyer in the Empire: Captain Sloane.  There’s also Hera, Lal Grallik (a woman Besalisk manager who mines thorilide), and Zaluna, a Sullustan Imperial spy, but not by choice. She ends up turning on the Empire and helping out Kanan and Hera.  She was my favorite new character in the novel.  Oh yeah, and there are female stormtroopers. Not sure how I felt about that one as I’m not sure it makes sense.  I always assumed the Empire was largely misogynistic at that point in the timeline.
  • Weirdly, you kind of root for the Empire in a strange way towards the end. Miller does a good job at showing the reader that it’s not always cut and dry, good and bad.  When Sloane plays a part in stopping Count Vidian, despite all the promises he threw to her, you cheer for her even though you have a moment of, “Oh wait – but the Empire is bad.”
  • Kanan does a good job at hiding his abilities in the Force. I think as an author, it can be tempting when you have a character with “superpowers” to bring these into the story consistently.  If I remember correctly, Kanan only showed his Force abilities 3 times in the novel, and twice would make it seem questionable to an outsider.  The last time, he saves him and Hera from impending death (of course) and it makes her see him in a new light. Though the last instance was somewhat predictable, I didn’t mind as much because I knew it had to happen eventually.

Cons:

  • Not enough time with Hera. We did get into her point of view occasionally, but didn’t find out much about her background. There was a lot more of that with Kanan and I felt that though the author could have set out to make this a Kanan/Hera story equally, it felt like there was WAY more emphasis on Kanan.  So in the end, it was a male driven story.
  • The story line as a whole seemed like it was trying just a little too hard and playing a little too safe. Miller wanted to make it as Star Wars as possible, but instead it got boring at times and felt predictable. The plot was very convenient and set up in a way that things fell nicely into place.  He wrapped it up in a nice little box that says “Star War Novel”, when instead, the stories that stand out in the EU are the ones that broke new ground and gave us something different, but felt similar.
  • Speaking of predictable, the main nemesis, Count Vidian was not that interesting. I felt like he was General Grievous all over again.  Intelligent, cyborg-ish, and ruthless.    Whenever we were in his point of view, I realized I just didn’t care.

My main gripe with this book is that I wanted more Hera involvement.  I wanted to understand her character, what drove her to ANewDawnbe so passionate about getting rid of the Empire, and what her past was like.

The best thing out of this book is getting to know a lot more about Kanan and understanding that while the Empire is evil, there are some beings within it that make it even more evil.  And sometimes you have to pick between a lesser evil and greater evil, which was what happened at the end of the novel.  You may not be able to take out the entire Empire, but maybe taking out one horrible Count is enough of a small victory.

I’d give A New Dawn 3/5 stars.  It’s a solid book and there are parts of the novel that felt really Star Wars to me, but there were also quite a few times when I thought Miller was trying a little too hard.

Want to read this book?  Let me know.  I’ll mail it to you.

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?