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"Hope." It's the only word spoken by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) in the final shot of Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Its original purpose was to serve as a bridge, a narrative thread connecting Edwards' standalone story to its immediate "sequel," the movie that started it all, Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope. Only, the scene means something different today. The scene is much more than a bridge. The scene has become closure, and a beautifully fitting tribute to a wonderful actress who gave all of us hope by being part of the larger Star Wars family, of which we all consider ourselves members.
There's something so poetic, graceful and touching about Star Wars fans being able to head to a movie theater right now, on this dark and depressing day, and pay tribute to the late Carrie Fisher by seeing her, immortalized once again on the silver screen, in the role that made her a global sensation. It's not Carrie. It will never be Carrie. But through the magic of movies, it's actually Leia, as she was in her prime, and today that feels right.
It goes back to that one line of dialogue. "Hope." The Star Wars stories -- particularly the original Star Wars trilogy -- gave hope to billions of cinema fanatics around the world. Hope for better stories, ones that transported us to galaxies far, far away. Hope for rebellions, ones that rose up against tyranny and saved the oppressed in difficult political times. Hope that we'd all find inclusion in a close-knit group of outsiders who found common ground in the unusual, exciting adventures conceived by George Lucas, and handed down to generations of storytellers.
Carrie Fisher is a harbinger of a new hope, as well, as Star Wars currently lives on in the hands of the "kids" she inspired. J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson, Gareth Edwards, Colin Trevorrow and the dynamic duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller all worshipped at the altar of the original trilogy, feeding off the hope peddled by Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and the members of the Rebellion. Fisher, herself, reprised her role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and will return (we assume) in Rian Johnson's untitled Star Wars: Episode VIII.
But today, as we are saying goodbye to Carrie Fisher, audiences around the world are spending a little more time with her most popular character, Princess Leia. Thanks to that final shot in Rogue One, we are all able to remember Carrie the way she was, and the way she'll always be to us. It's no longer a baton pass from one movie to another. It's a stunning, and welcome, reminder that through the magic of movies, our beloved Princess Leia -- and our beloved Carrie Fisher -- live on.