UPDATE: Seems that Lucas was right about the Princess Leia hairdo and the Mexican Revolution. Just listened to a great piece on Oregon Public Broadcasting about a badass soldadera named Clara de la Rocha. And here she is:
The woman is Clara de la Rocha, a noted colonel in the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), a movement against the long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. She is one of Alexandra de la Rocha’s ancestors — her dad’s distant cousin. She died in 1970 and, in the photo, is standing next to her father, General Herculano de la Rocha.
She is known for a key 1911 battle in Sinaloa, in northern Mexico. “She actually crossed a river on horseback … and was able to take out a power station in order to allow the rebel forces to attack during night without being seen,” says the younger De la Rocha. “She was a grizzled woman, as her father was. They were mountain people, and were actually miners and owned a lot of land. They were business people.”
Check out the story here.
Remembrances of Carrie Fisher have dominated the internet since her death after a massive heart attack on Tuesday. Though she was a versatile actress and an excellent writer, she knew full well that she would ever be known for her iconic portrayal of Princess Leia in Star Wars.
I am no Star Wars fanatic, and neither is my friend Craig McDonald, but Craig dug up a historical connection regarding Princess Leia that tickled the fancy of both of us Mexican Revolution buffs. You see, Princess Leia was a soldadera.
Star Wars creator George Lucas said he looked to Mexico’s female revolutionaries, or “soldaderas,” who joined the uprising at the start of the 20th Century.
“I went with a kind of south-western Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look, which is what that is. The buns are basically from turn-of-the-century Mexico,” Lucas told Time in 2002.
It makes sense to look to such a band of women when creating a character far removed from a traditional princess awaiting rescue.
“George didn’t want a damsel in distress, didn’t want your stereotypical princess – he wanted a fighter, he wanted someone who was independent,” Fisher explained to the BBC in 1977.
A scholar of women in the Mexican Revolution and Spanish Civil War notes, however, that soldaderas didn’t wear their hair in side buns. Lucas was conflating his image of a female fighter with early 20th Century photographs of Pueblo women.
Ah, well, Lucas had the right spirit anyway. Should have given Leia a cigarro, though.