Monday, December 12, 2016

Why do we hurtle ourselves through every inch of time and space: THE PRINCESS DIARIST.

The Princess DiaristThe Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Carrie Fisher's latest memoir details a behind the scenes look of the first Star Wars film. Motivated by the recent discovery of the journals she wrote while filming Star Wars in the late 1970s, Fisher discusses her naive nineteen-year-old self: not yet famous (though with famous parents) and unprepared for the juggernaut that would become the Star Wars franchise. She also covers her now famous co-star, Harrison Ford, and their relationship during the three months of filming. Fisher presents excerpts from her discovered journals and ponders on her life and the fame and notoriety that playing Princess Leia has brought her.

I am new to the Star Wars fandom, having only recently discovered the films myself in the past two years or so. My four-year-old daughters love them (and Leia), so I was intrigued by the idea of Fisher's memoir. While I like the films, I don't consider myself a fanatic by any stretch of the imagination. Still, I was interested in hearing some behind the scenes tidbits about filming. And Fisher starts out with such facts, explaining how an early scene was re-written due to the physical limitations of Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca. It's that sort of information that I find fascinating--and imagine other Star Wars fans would as well.

And, I won't lie, I was also fascinated by Fisher's reported relationship with Harrison Ford, who is about 15 years her senior (and was married while they were filming). Her portrayal of Harrison in the book seems spot on and is actually quite humorous at times. Unfortunately, her actual detail of the relationship is scant at best, and we really don't get much insight into their romance. What we do get is a lot of particulars about Fisher's own insecurities about herself, her body, her acting, etc.

She includes actual excerpts of the journals she found in the middle of the book, and I confess, I eventually started skimming them, because they were just agony to read. I can understand how they resonate from the perspective of a lovestruck teenager (because, truly, she was just that at the time), but so many years later, they just seem like a lot of bad poetry and ramblings that make no sense out of context. And beyond a few stories about Harrison, we really get nothing in the book that explains them, which is unfortunate, as Fisher seems witty and interesting (albeit insecure, but hey, so am I). I understand her angst from the journals, I really do, but I'm not honestly sure I wanted to read it in such form.

Plus, after that section of the book, we move on to Fisher discussing her fans and how "being Leia" has affected her life. And, again, I get it: we all forget how no one expected Star Wars to be so big. You wouldn't at nineteen realize what you were getting into, and I'm sure this character has absorbed much of her identity. And maybe it was reading this on the heel of Anna Kendrick's memoir, but I can only take so much of celebrities complaining about their fame and lives. The second half of Fisher's book, basically, is her capturing "conversations" with awestruck fans explaining how much Leia and Star Wars meant to them. But, really, it's mocking them and illustrating how tiresome the "lap dance" (her words) of signing autographs and appearing at various conventions can be. But, you know, as she states, it's worth it for the money. You can't help but feel a little offended on the part of these devoted, crazy fans, and a little less sorry for Fisher, even if she was not included on merchandising shares for Star Wars.

Sigh. Overall, I'm a bit conflicted on this one. Bits and pieces were very interesting. But I would have enjoyed hearing more about the actual set and her interactions with the other actors beyond Harrison Ford. While I also didn't mind hearing about Fisher's impressions of how Leia impacted her life, the fandom sections just rubbed me the wrong way. 2.5 stars.

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