Who should drive the Millennium Falcon?

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“Oh, come on….out of my way, I’ve got places to go…..”

Impatience is not even thinly veiled in my voice as I drive up the main road behind a pootler. Just for the time I am behind the wheel, I am utterly convinced that in that car ahead has no sense of urgency, and no appreciation of people who have.

I have a Mercedes. It is a very old Mercedes, but it is manual, and outrageously over-powered. I put my foot down, it says “Yes, Milady,” just like Parker from Thunderbirds, and we fly away on wings of speed and grace, leaving the rest of the world behind in a cloud of dust. I feel like some Greek Odyssian anti-heroine. I am in a world of my own.

Maddie, my 13-year-old daughter, sits beside me in the passenger seat. She rolls her eyes, and switches on the radio. The strains of John Williams burst into our cabin: it is the theme to Star Wars. It is at its most rousing.

And Maddie says, Mum, that’s your theme. That’s how you drive.

Involuntarily, I slow. Really? I drive like I’m steering the Millennium Falcon through enemy space territory? With all the ducking and diving and swerving? I push away uninvited images: me in a storm trooper’s helmet – the classic one – with Macaulay the Dog guesting as Chewbacca in the seat next to me. I have flown a plane and remember commenting jubilantly that it was so much more fun than driving, because you could go in any direction: not just swerve left and right, but up and down as well.

Perhaps I do drive like Han Solo.

Which set me riffling through the files of my cluttered consciousness (hurtling forward at about 60mph as I pondered) whether Princess Leia got any driving gigs, and if so: was she any good? Or did she drive like Han Solo too?

Thing is, I can’t ever remember her doing so. Maybe you can enlighten me. Or perhaps even the 2oth century felt the need for a heroine who needed rescuing, who despite all the steel in her gaze could not do the job herself, and got herself into scrapes involving large blubbery aliens who demanded irresistibly that she dress in a  bikini.

It’s flawed, scriptwriting like that. Because anyone like me, with her own personal if aged millennium falcon, knows that she will stop at nothing to outstrip the  pilots around her. That character, Princess or no, would have known how to fly and to wage battle, and she would have been there, leading the assault on that old Death Star. There is simply no point in leaving it to anyone else, as and Joan of Arc, and Rosa Parkes, and Marie Curie, and Margaret Mead, knew.

History has remembered the women who took fate into their hands. If Leia had elbowed Solo out of the way and said, Here, Fool, let me drive: would movie going audiences have liked her the better for it?

Probably not.

Perhaps the alien-bikini plot struck the public imagination better.

Perhaps it is best that Han Solo drives.


31 thoughts on “Who should drive the Millennium Falcon?

      1. Maybe – hopefully – when Maddy’s a Mum she and her daughter will fly together, taking it for granted that they are just as likely to save the world as the Han Solo characters. I think the ‘inspirational’ but passive princesses need to move over in favour of real women: doers and thinkers, if not testosterone fuelled daredevils!

    1. Very sensible. We forget what we are inside, sometimes, once we are at the wheel. I remember watching The Body In Question, Dr Jonathan Miller, where he explained how the mind actually changes its mental body map to incorporate the car as part of you as you drive- does that make sense? Your brain treats the car as part of your body. Easy to become complacent, and wise to check oneself.

  1. Probably not, but if she had let her hair out of those ridiculous ear-pancakes, they might have. There, this is how we (even women) judge women: by their appearance, not by what they do.

  2. I couldn’t help but think of the mom in The Incredibles, and there you have it, posted in a comment. Methinks we weren’t all that ready for Leia to take the wheel back then, but, you know, our daughters most certainly are now.

  3. I’m a lead foot, and I pilot a big, heavy Jeep Grand Cherokee. I can move at aggressive speed even over rough terrain. But, Kate, you flew a plane?! You are the pinnacle of cool and heroism!

  4. I, too, hate it when I get behind a “Sunday driver,” but I will admit that as I’ve aged, the sense of my own mortality has become sharper. So, unless I’m on a multi-lane roadway (few and far between in this neck of the woods), I’m much more likely these days to accept the putt-putt pace of he/she who leads the pack. However, when I was your age…..

    Love that you flew a plane!!

  5. A lady who drives a manual! You just earned bonus points at the Garage! The story of your “get up and go” Mercedes reminded me of when I took my Chrysler PT Cruiser GT HO out for a test drive. Maggie was along for the adventure of driving four hours one way to look over and test drive a car for about one hour. I had put the back seats down so she could throughly explore the back without damaging the leather seats. As we entered the highway, the inter-cooled turbo kicked in and Maggie’s paw traction did not keep up with the now quickly accelerating car. When the hatch caught up to Maggie, her acceleration rate suddenly increased. Unfortunately, Maggie is none to happy to go for a ride in the GT to this day. It may also have something to do with the stereo system I installed. 🙂

  6. I like the conversation of this post; however, I should point out that Leia was a rebel spy and an operative for the fledgling New Republic, in addition to her roles as Princess of Alderaan and heiress to a senate seat (if the senate weren’t disbanded at the time.) She’s seen in the film taking many action roles, engaging in firefights and speeder chases, and while she does need rescuing from time to time, who doesn’t? Luke does, sometimes, and so do Han and Chewbacca. It’s in keeping with the adage that “no man is an island”, and we even see Leia being the infiltrator in the rescue of Han Solo, dressing as a bounty hunter and confronting Jabba the Hutt with a thermal detonator — and while being forced to wear a gold bikini is a demeaning thing, especially for a high-class lady, she doesn’t complain, but rather garrotes Jabba with her own chain.

    In my book, she’s a pretty strong female character. 🙂

    And realize too, that those three movies are only a small slice of her immortalized adventures!

    1. Rob, I was hoping someone would have a good enough knowledge of all the films to answer my question. I Youtubed for hours to try to find Leia benhind the controls of a fecent flying machine. I must have been looking in the wrong place! Hands up to the firefights: and I have squirreled away that quote of yours that we all need rescuing sometimes…..

  7. Hmmmm … what if there was a good reason for Hans Solo to drive? What if it wasn’t because he thought Princess Leia was incompetent, but rather he wanted to protect her from harm because she was too important to the greater good to be put in harm’s way?

  8. Someone up above said, hey, we might not have been, but surely our daughters are – oh yes! Thanks for the intro to the Incredibles, Kate! I’ve never seen that. Grin. Off to go view it.

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