Updated #StarWars #PrincessLeia The Force lives on. Magical filmmaking: #CarrieFisher Behind the scenes

 Written by Frankie Taggart, AFP/Rappler.com:  “After decades of fast living that her fearless Star Wars character Princess Leia would have struggled to keep up with, Carrie Fisher died Tuesday, December 27, days after suffering a heart attack. She was 60.

       “The American actress was enjoying a new phase in the spotlight with a tour promoting her latest headline-grabbing memoir and a reprisal of her iconic role in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

          “Fisher was returning from the London leg of a book tour on Friday when she collapsed 15 minutes before landing in Los Angeles, where paramedics and hospital staff were unable to revive her.

      xxx  “Born in Los Angeles in October 1956, Fisher was catapulted to worldwide stardom as rebel warrior Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, which has been a worldwide cultural phenomenon since the release of the films from 1977 to 1983.

         “Asked at a news conference last year what she remembered of her scenes in her barely-there gold bikini in Return of the Jedi, she recalled having fun killing Leia’s jailer, Jabba the Hutt.

        “ “They asked me on the day if I wanted to have a stunt double kill Jabba. No! That’s the best time I ever had as an actor,” she said.

         “ “And the only reason to go into acting is if you can kill a giant monster.”

        “Steeped in Hollywood excess from an early age, she was the product of the 4-year marriage of movie star Debbie Reynolds, best known for her role in Singin’ In The Rain, and singer Eddie Fisher.

        “The relationship, and the happy home in Beverly Hills, came to an end when Fisher left Reynolds for her close friend, the actress Elizabeth Taylor.

         “The early 1980s were marked by problems with alcohol, drugs, and depression for Fisher, who appeared in a number of critical flops, including Under the Rainbow (1981) and Hollywood Vice Squad (1986).

          “She was widely praised for her performance in the hit 1989 comedy When Harry Met Sally, but began to turn her back on acting in favor of writing.

         “She became known for her searingly honest semi-autobiographical writing, including her best-selling debut Postcards from the Edge, which she turned into a film of the same name in 1990 starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

     ‘Unhappy experiences’

         “A talented screenwriter, Fisher has revised numerous scripts, including Sister Act (1992), Outbreak (1995), and The Wedding Singer (1998).

         “She has given various interviews over the years about her diagnosis of bipolar disorder and addiction to prescription drugs and cocaine, which she admitted using on the set of The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

          “Asked by Vanity Fair in 2006 how she persuaded Star Wars director George Lucas to give her the part of Princess Leia, she said: “I slept with some nerd. I hope it was George.”

        “She “took too many drugs to remember” who it was, she added.

        “She has also discussed being treated with electroconvulsive therapy, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, to trigger brief seizures and treat depression.

        “The actress promised in her first agony aunt column for the British Guardian newspaper in June to “provide solicited advice, based on a life filled with pratfalls and accidents.”

         “Fisher told her readers the addictions, heartbreak, and mental illness she had endured amounted to a “fair share of challenging and unhappy experiences.”

        “ “Over time, I’ve paid attention, taken notes, and forgotten easily half of everything I’ve gone through. But I’ll rifle through the half I recall and lay it at your feet.”

        “Her just-released memoir The Princess Diarist is based on journals she kept while filming the Star Wars trilogy.

         “The memoir made headlines because of a section in which Fisher admits a three-month affair with co-star Harrison Ford while filming Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in 1976.     

         “ Fisher and her co-star were 19 and 33 at the time, and Ford, now 74, was married to his first wife, Mary Marquardt.

         “Fisher was briefly married to singer/songwriter Paul Simon in the 1980s. Her daughter Billie, who is also an actress, comes from her relationship with talent agent Bryan Lourd.”


(Behind the scenes footage by Lucas Films,

used here non-commercially for academic purposes)

(the autoplay of the music (Christmas playlist of this site) can be stopped

by clicking the soundcloud pod below the video)

Casting choice, costume & production design make the statement: #RogueOne speaks to our times (it’s ok to read, no spoilers)

The casting choice, costume and  production design make the statement:            

              Rogue One speaks to our times

     (it’s okay to read this,  no spoilers here) 


Generally (avoiding spoilers) , the plot is simple and almost formulaic —

     The visuals and the choices made by the filmmaker however make the statement:

      Fighters of an “extremist” faction of the Rebel Alliance who open the attack on the galactic imperial army are garbed in traditional Arabic/ Palestinian  clothing, in black, opening fire in a confined area with traditional architectural design that looks like a marketplace in Baghdad…In fact the war zone Planet Jedha was shot in Jordan. “(M)any of the scenes set on this desert moon are known to have been recorded in Jordan. The walled city is densely populated with buildings topped with shimmering golden domes, echoing the architectural language of Jerusalem.” (from architizer.com). …  
          The Rebel Alliance leaders  coordinate flight plans and troop movements from a fortress rising like the architectural design of ancient temples of the Mayan civilization… “within the luscious rainforests of Tikal, Guatemala, home to the epic temples of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in Mesoamerica” (from architizer.com)…

       On the other hand, the galactic empire constructed the Death Star, a weapon that can destroy entire planets, in an idyllic tropical island with palm trees and white sand beaches…

     …that looks like one of the disputed islets in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) — i’m messing with you, but the filmmakers did use a tropical island paradise setting as  construction area of the Death Star by the superpowers, este, er, by the galactic empire. 

      Still think  the  filmmakers are not trying to make a statement with this production design?
                  CASTING CHOICE
As observed by many: The oppressive galactic empire echoes “white supremacist organization”.
     …but… i will not go that far: Let’s just say the filmmakers cast an all-Caucasian male ensemble for the evil galactic empire led by… the late, iconic Peter Cushing — CGI’ed for the movie.
        And what about  the heroes?
    Captain Cassian is played by  a Mexican actor of wiry build, thick accent:  Diego Luna — it is equally redeeming that he is not Hollywood-pretty (broken nose, longish thin face)…

    The blind warrior monk Chirrut, in Buddhist robes with Jedi-like skills, played by actor Donnie Yen who in  real life is a multiple world wushu tournament champion, is of Chinese descent — the character is costumed as Chinese-Tibetan.


      The free-lance assassin character of Baze Malbus is played by an actor also of Chinese descent.

     The pilot turned spy is of Pakistani descent of British citizenship.

    And of course Saw Guerrera, who partially raised Jyn Erso, is African-American.

     The Rebel Alliance is led  jointly by Mon Mothma, played by an Irish female actor and by the foster father of Princess Leia, played by Jimmy Smits of Puerto Rican and Dutch descent. The central figure is Jyn Erso, orphaned, rebel.
        White male actors for the galactic empire on one side —-

      and the Rebel Alliance:  female Irish actor, a Mexican commander, a “Tibetan monk” spiritual warrior, an African-American underground leader, a gung-ho Chinese assassin, an awkward shy Pakistani pilot, a senator of Puerto Rican and Dutch descent, and an orphaned rebel — and let’s not forget the witty, heroic droid, and the assortment of intelligent life forms patterned after sea creatures and upright walking reptilians. 
      Without preaching, Rogue One filmmakers’ production design changes and exquisite casting choices speak to our times.

     (in my opinion, the most relevant and best of the eight Star Wars films)