Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.
I’m not the first person to notice this, nor will I be the last, but man, 2016 has been a rough year. The list of setbacks, heartbreaks and disappointments is too long to list here.
The latest—at least at press time, because who knows what will happen while this note is off at the printers—is the death of Carrie Fisher. She’s an icon to millions of people—literally, since many of us, as geeky children or on into adult nerdom, had plastic idols depicting her likeness that we would place in positions of prominence in our pantheon, just like the devotees of any other religion.
When I watch the first Star Wars movie now, as an adult, I’m often struck by how Fisher’s performance outshines the meager part written for her. George Lucas wrote Princess Leia to be a damsel-in-distress, pleading for her “only hope” to rescue her. But in Fisher’s hands, the character seems unimpressed by her would-be rescuers, and what’s more, she seems to immediately take charge. Fisher’s verve and wry intelligence always made Leia seem like the most capable leader in that galaxy far, far away.
I suppose anyone who cares about “spoilers” has probably had more than enough opportunity to see Rogue One by now, but be alerted just in case. When the end of that movie begins to bend toward the opening sequence of A New Hope, it has an almost musical satisfaction, like a long symphony building to a final cadence, resolving back to the original key with perfect harmony.
As it became clear where Rogue One was headed, I started to wonder how they would depict Leia—a new actress? Or a computer-generated imitation? Of course, it’s a combination of the two, a young actress digitally altered to look like Fisher. And it’s uncanny, “more machine now than man,” but also more mythic—as is her closing line of dialogue, when someone asks her what the rebel spies have sent her: “Hope.”
That’s the final cadence, neatly ending the movie with a connection to A New Hope. And the death of Fisher feels like a loss of hope. Or maybe that’s all we have left.