Cinema Toast

My Disney Princess Carried a Blaster

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We all loved her.

Last year ran roughshod over my list of Hollywood Heroes. From start to finish, David Bowie to William Christopher, we’ve all lost some of our favorites. But for me, Carrie Fisher’s passing probably hit the hardest. Was there anyone who didn’t love her?

She ushered in a new age of Princess. She took that character genre from damsel-in-distress to kick-butt hero. She was sassy, smart, smart-mouthed, skilled, and stunning. And this is before she ever stepped in front of a camera. She was honest, brutally so, about her struggles. She was willing to step from the shadows, rip off her bandages, and show us her scars.

How best to honor her?

As a writer, I hope to honor her memory by infusing my “princesses” with her strength and presence. I want them to have vulnerabilities to face, mountains to climb, partners in passion, and character oozing from every pore. I want them to defend the less able and champion the righteous cause. I think Ms. Fisher would appreciate that. I think that’s the legacy she’d like to leave.

The Princesses next in line?

From the moment I first saw her on screen, I decided I needed to let my hair grow long enough for the bun-do and then the braids. I had grown up with tall, blonde, Barbie-type princesses, and she was a short brunette. Yay! I hope that the role models for tomorrow’s princesses will buck the trends, not just for the bucking, but to send the message that buying into the mass-production idea of beauty will never bring happiness. Happiness is a decision. It is a condition of contentment and reconciliation with one’s own actions and responsibilities. It will never be a product you can purchase or a sheep-like trend.

Carrie Fisher let us know, in no uncertain terms, that growing up as a Hollywood Princess didn’t make her the happiest girl in the kingdom. I want the next generation of role models to be grounded in reality, willing to show their flaws without making excuses. She embraced the role of princess, but not without disclaimers. She showed both that she could be romantic and rough at the same time.

Ms. Fisher requested of her obituary, “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

Rest in peace, princess.

Carrie Fisher

October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016


Cinema Toast

May the 4th Be With You!

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It’s Star Wars Day! Time to celebrate all things one with the Force!

Our family loves Star Wars. We have had multiple Star Wars-themed parties, complete with Wookie Cookies, Yoda Soda, Aunt Beru’s Brew, and Jabba’s Delight. That one was a combination of green Jello and gummy worms. It looked nasty, but tasted pretty good. We served all sorts of galactic goodies.

When we began our Star Wars parties, we usually included a trilogy marathon. These days a marathon would require a whole weekend.

My love for the Franchise began in 1977. I remember the night my family waited in line for tickets. We watched Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope at the ABC Cinema. That particular theatre had restrooms at the back of the auditorium, and every time Darth Vader appeared on screen, my younger sister had to visit the ladies’ room. My little brother hid behind the seat in front of him. I don’t remember hiding, but I remember being very impressed at the fear Vader evoked. I was nine and a half.

Of all the movies I’ve ever seen, that first installment holds the title for most-watched. I have lost count of how many times I’ve seen it. The special effects, which were breath taking in their day, triggered my imagination like nothing before.

The effects embellished the story, without overshadowing it. The multiple moons on Tatooine silently sprinkled awe into a scene of a young man dreaming about his future. The cantina band added that perfect quirky musical vibe to a powerfully sweeping score. The characters have flaws and strengths. Mystery and majesty. Wonder. The cast was composed of Hollywood freshmen, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher, as well as legends like Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, and James Earl Jones. It was anchored with the masked talents of Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker.

This movie was a gamble. George Lucas experimented with a story, and it worked. A universe was born. An Empire was created. A new species of humans evolved. They are the ones celebrating today.

My son asked me if I thought his teachers would be upset if he wore his Darth Vader helmet to school today. I asked him if his school (he’s a junior in high school) recognized “Star Wars Day.” He said that he didn’t think so, but he argued that it was “International Star Wars Day,” and that should count for something. I suggested that he save the helmet for after school. His light saber is ready for action as well.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. May the Force be with you!