Feminism in StarWars

My course hasn’t yet arrived though I keep checking out of the window as though doing so will cause the delivery van to materialise in the driveway (definitely watching too many movies) so in the meantime I have been reading this fascinating blog, Mark Kennedy is head of story at Disney Feature Animation and his blog is like going through Smaugs vast treasure, every single sentence is packed with information and advice, I haven’t stopped reading it since I discovered it yesterday evening. There is information about cutting, characterisation, how plots and characters intertwine, what to avoid, what to do, for any fellow course mates it’s such a brilliant resource and one I definitely recommend wholeheartedly.

One of the main parts of this course is that you get to watch loads of movies and you can chose what you want to watch yourself. I took a trip to Star Wars, The Force Awakens and was blown away by the movie. The special effects were second to none, the characters so real I felt like I might just bump into them outside the Odeon but I wanted to use this blog to write about something I was really quite struck by.

Feminism in the movies. (warning movie spoilers)

It is a pattern seen throughout the movie industry, the princess is in trouble and the prince comes to the rescue. Akira Kurosawa was quite fond of portraying women as weak and defenceless characters with the male always coming to the rescue. This was happily accepted at that time but now since women liberation and rights for women, the portrayal of the feminine hero has changed dramatically. We now see the rise of heroic women in the movies such as Katniss in the Hunger Games and Tris Prior in Divergent. Each weapon wielding, strong characters who girls can look up to. Of course with anything it can sometimes go too far, some women now think the fact that a man may want to help them is demeaning and sexist just as going too far along the spectrum and seeing women as defenceless and always needing to be rescued. So there is a balance I think in getting this right, not too weak, not too headstrong, whilst many may disagree with me this is just my personal opinion.  A lot of us dream about a perfect guy to sweep us off our feet and that doesn’t make anyone weak or pathetic. The latest StarWars Movie for me got the balance just right (just like the Hunger Games and Divergent), introducing the main protagonist, a girl, Rey who is strong, dependent, good with engines and anything mechanical, she can fight her way out of trouble and saves everyone more than once, yet is kind to the droid BB-8 and loyal to her friends. She has a harsh backstory, struggling to survive in the barren desert after her family were taken from her, scavenging abandoned ships and selling the parts in exchange for measly portions of food.  Eventually she meets Finn, a storm trooper who escaped the First Division, the evil sect. Rey is captured by Kylo Ren ( the new Dark Lord following in Darth Vaders footsteps) and is imprisoned and tortured under mind control. Finn comes to her rescue, storming the place only to find, she’s rescued herself. I felt that was brilliant, the heroic man still showed his character of being loyal as he staged a rescue, yet Rey was admired getting herself out of danger and finding powers of the force inside her. This continued to the end of the movie where Rey and Finn were racing across the snow engulfed forest and there was Kylo Ren who with a sweep of his hand hurled Rey into the air and slammed her against a tree. As she dropped unconscious into the snow Finn fought Kylo Ren with the lightsaber and was slashed across the back falling motionless in the snow. Kylo Ren used his powers to pull Luke Skywalkers lightsaber out of the snow and as it was flew towards him suddenly it bypassed him landing in Rey’s hand. A huge battle ensued where Rey was hanging over a precipice at one point, but she remembered Maz Kanatas words, closed her eyes and felt the force. She defeated Kylo Ren, not killing him in cold blood but instead the ground caved in separating Rey and Finn from Kylo who it would seem will be back for the sequel.

Of course Rey wasn’t just the fierce and independent woman, Kylo Ren exposed her heart, how she saw Hans Solo as the father she’d never had, thus causing the viewer to emphasise with her even more. When I heard that the main character was going to be a woman I wasn’t sure what to expect. I worried they would make her weak and need rescuing all the time so I was thrilled to see she was a unique reincarnation of Luke Skywalker, whilst completely different, she carried the same respect and idolism that he did. Even aspects of her costume have been reimagined from Skywalkers costume, the bands around her arms just like Luke’s leggings. Of course Princess Leia is seen as a heroic woman and she is fighting the dark side but the perverse scene where she is chained as a slave in a bikini, always clouds that though she did defeat Jabba the Hutt. Rey however with her technical know how, headstrong, determined and strong personality has become my favourite character in the franchise along with Luke Skywalker and the adorable R2D2 and BB-8. StarWars definitely found the force.

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One thought on “Feminism in StarWars

  1. I think, from a certain point of view, the scene where Leia is scantily clad doesn’t have to take away from the power of her killing Jabba. It’s frustrating, of course, that that image became so iconic simply because of how she looked, but in the context of the story, I think it shows how she was able to defeat the antagonist despite her being enslaved, objectified, and almost completely defeated.

    Liked by 1 person

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