Heads will Roll: Princess Leia and Judith as Heroines Defending their Dignity and People


Allison Cetak

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Spring 2014


Princess Leia's strangling of Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi (1983) can be usefully compared to Judith's beheading of Holofernes in the medieval Catholic Bible and related Anglo-Saxon literature. To start with, both Leia and Judith are fearless female warriors and leaders dedicated to saving their people. Upon encountering Jabba and Holofernes, both women are threatened with sexual captivity, and both protect themselves by slaying their lustful, drunken captors. The video then goes further into this topic by discussing the relevant real-life experiences of Carrie Fisher and Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1656), an Italian Baroque artist known for her paintings of Judith. Artemisia was herself the victim of sexual violence who took her rapist to trial in a legal battle for public honor. As for Carrie Fisher, her unpleasant experience portraying the enslaved Leia speaks to modern Hollywood's frequent objectification and silencing of women. Ultimately, Leia, Judith, Artemisia, and Carrie Fisher are united as women by their successful struggles for freedom and dignity.

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