I would have been six years old when my Mum took me to Leicester Square (braving the impossibly tall and vertigo-inducing escalators of Leicester Square underground station) to see Star Wars. It definitely wasn’t the first film I ever saw but, as with many people of my generation, it was one of the first to make a lifelong impact.
Suddenly there were heroes, villains, princesses, spaceships – and a whole galaxy in which to fly them. There were insurmountable odds and terrific victories, death and rebirth, machines that you wanted to have as your best friends and heroes that could save the whole universe.
(It wasn’t until many years later that I started doing things like looking for the tape holding Carrie Fisher’s breasts down, or thinking: “A farmboy, a pirate, a walking rug and an old man taking on squadrons of enemy soldiers while trapped on the most technologically advanced battle station in the galaxy? They’re totally gonna die!”)
When I thought about the topic ‘rescue’ for this week’s post one of the first images that popped into my head was this:
One of things I remember most about Star Wars, it turns out, is Luke beseeching: “We have to rescue the princess!”. Years later the phrase “Save the cheerleader, save the world” would get similarly stuck, and now I must wonder if there was a slight echo in the heads of the scriptwriters for cheers.
Probably not, but it’s nice to think so.
Of course, one of the best things about Star Wars – and having been brought up on Disney films, I must have noticed this at the time – is how the princess didn’t really need rescuing. Sure, she was locked in a cell, in that same technologically advanced battle station, with an imminent death sentence hanging over her head, but once she hooked up with Luke and Han they were on equal footing right from the outset (“Didn’t you have a plan for getting out?!”)
It’s an important lesson for an impressionable six year-old: classic stories have heroes rescuing princesses, but the truly great stories have the princesses rescuing the heroes once in a while.
The other picture
As a totally unrelated side note, while I was googling for the above picture I also found the image below which I have never, ever seen before in my life. While I don’t profess to be a Star Wars obsessive, I’ve still been enough of a fan to have seen most of the existing promotional shots several dozen times over. Finding a promo still I’ve never seen before – and one that’s clearly from A New Hope – is pretty exciting to a geek like me.
Check it out: Leia is clearly in her New Hope costume, complete with donuts, but Luke almost looks as if he’s from Return Of The Jedi. Look a bit closer: is Mark Hamill actually in his own clothes, had he only just been cast? Could it even be part of Han Solo’s costume? What’s the background to this picture?