George Lucas Revealed That Princess Leia Earned Her Ph.D. at Age 19

Monday, 07 August 2017 - 9:36PM
Star Wars
Monday, 07 August 2017 - 9:36PM
George Lucas Revealed That Princess Leia Earned Her Ph.D. at Age 19
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The internet has been abuzz today over a particularly interesting piece of Star Wars expanded universe canon that's caught people's attention in an unusual way.

Nobody outside of the hardcore Star Wars fan community really cares all where R2-D2 got built, or how Han Solo got his infamous reputation (although we'll be learning that soon), but the discovery that Princess Leia had achieved an Alderaanian equivalent to a doctorate by the time she was nineteen? That's something to sit up and take notice of.

According to a quote which originally came from George Lucas back in 1977 (in other words, before he got drunk on power and invented Gungans), Princess Leia is and has always been an utter genius:

Opening quote
"In A New Hope Leia is young, nineteen, the same age as what Luke was supposed to be, but instead of being kind of an idealistic naïve farm boy from the far reaches of the Netherlands, she's like a very sophisticated, urbanized ruler, a Senator, so she's a politician, she's accomplished, she's graduated, got her Ph.D. at nineteen and she rules people and she's in charge. (I needed an actress) who could be young and play with a lot of authority ... and push the guys around."
Closing quote

While it's debatable whether that's still canon nowadays, Carrie Fisher's casting now makes utter and complete sense to say the least. Nobody else carries the same weight and authority when faced with a snarky Harrison Ford, and it's hard not to love her all the more in reflection upon reading this quote.

It's easy, this far in the future, to overlook just how groundbreaking the character of Princess Leia was to audiences - particularly younger children - watching Star Wars for the first time back in the 1970s. Up until that point, most kids learned everything about what a princess was from Disney movies, in which Snow White sleeps a lot and waits for Prince Charming, and Aurora, well, also sleeps a lot and waits for Prince Charming.

Kids knew that princesses are generally well-rested, but at that time, they weren't exactly overflowing with personality and take-charge leadership skills. Even the bedtime stories that weren't produced by the House of Mouse involved heroic young boys slaying dragons to save princesses that were essentially sitting around, waiting to be saved.

Then came Princess Leia, who, in her first meeting with our hero (while he's still dressed in disguise as one of her captors), she makes a joke about Luke Skywalker's height. Then she's arguing with Han and shooting Stormtroopers, thinking on her feet, and getting our heroes out of trouble through some out of the box thinking. Princess Leia, as Star Wars fans have known for generations, is awesome.

Of course this woman has a Ph.D. It just makes sense - and it also explains why she rolls her eyes every time Han Solo starts getting smug for knowing how to use a blast door (beside, of course, from the fact that he's being an arrogant nerfherder, which in fairness is reason enough in and of itself).

This little fact also nicely contrasts with Luke Skywalker. Here is this young kid - the character that audiences are supposed to feel for and identify with the most - who just wants to go out and see the universe. He's desperate for any kind of adventure, and is really, really eager to go away to join his friends at an Academy, but he's perpetually trapped in a desolate, empty, boring life that he doesn't want, while unbeknownst to him, one of the major players in his life is being awarded a doctorate for her years of successful academic study.

It makes the binary sunset scene in Star Wars feel all the more heart-wrenchingly relatable. We've all been exactly where Luke is, desperate to escape, unable to find the freedom we're looking for. It's worth remembering that, before he went insane, George Lucas did actually understand the human condition, and knew exactly what it felt like to be nineteen and desperate for adventure.

And, above all, the revelation of Leia's doctorate raises questions about what academic study is like in a Galaxy Far, Far Away. Han Solo's great and all, but where's the Princess Leia origin movie?
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