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Posted by Gary B. Cole
“Star Wars” is known for one thing: no women. Princess Leia lives alone in a galaxy far, far away. She reigns supreme in George Lucas’ saga. Over time, Leia is passed from man to man. We see this with Luke, Han, Lando, Jabba and even the Ewoks.
But other women live and work in the Star Wars universe. We met Aunt Beru, a character fans embraced. She died quickly as did her potential. Beru was destined to sacrifice herself for Luke. He could never leave his elderly aunt and uncle behind.
Mos Eisely and its iconic cantina welcomes women. Stormtroopers rudely push one aside as they search for the droids. Inside the cantina, the Tonnika sisters slink over the bar. In the corner, an alien couple laugh and giggle. One is female.
Tortured by Sandpeople, Shmi Skywalker died in Episode II.
“Return of the Jedi” gave women important but minuscule roles. Mon Mothma leads the Rebel Alliance in its struggle with the Empire. Wearing pristine white robes, she stands glumly and says very little. As the Battle of Endor climaxed and victory was at hand, not seeing her on the bridge with Admiral Ackbar is regrettable.
Prior to “Jedi’s” release, George Lucas filmed female Rebel pilots. The Blue Ray collection offers these pictures for the first time. Women join the battle with Wedge and Lando.
A blond swallowed by her seat pilots an X-Wing fighter. She’s a burst of orange with tiny hands. Two older women, with stern dour faces, command their own star fighters. These three unnamed pilots end up on the cutting room floor.
A woman shot Han Solo first.
Some believe Lucas frowned upon female death. Even today seeing a woman killed is unsettling, especially a freedom fighter. Yet Aunt Beru’s violent end is never questioned. In 1999, “Episode I” finally gave us female pilots. One looks like a soccer mom and I believe she survives. The Prequels also gave us Padme Amidala and several female Jedi. But the Prequels were so bad no one cares.
“Return of Jedi’s” deleted content prove women almost had their shot. But even deep inside the Ewok village, female Ewoks are in hiding. George Lucas created a man’s world to tell his stories. Only Princess Leia could survive.