I’ve watched The Last Jedi over twenty times now and during my latest viewing of the film one of the scenes that surprisingly struck me was in fact one of the quietest moments in the movie and that was when Leia was sitting by herself in the cruiser, Ninka. Throughout Leia’s involvement in Star Wars we haven’t seen her grieve a lot even though she has experienced so much loss. She lost nearly her entire crew aboard the ship, Tantative IV, to Darth Vader and his stormtroopers. Then she had to watch her home planet of Alderaan get obliterated before her very eyes (and her mother and father along with it.) She had to endure seeing Han Solo getting frozen in carbonite, nearly dying in the process. And then even after the Rebellion defeated the Empire the hardships she would face were far from over.
When we see Leia again thirty years after the end of the Imperial war the struggles that she has faced can be plainly seen on her face. From the political obstacles she had to face during the creation and rise of the New Republic to the new war that was on the brink of the horizon with the meager Resistance against the mighty First Order. There’s also the more personal losses she has had to deal with as well along the way with the sudden and total absence of her beloved brother, Luke Skywalker, the agony of knowing that her very son, Ben Solo, was a First Order leader and dark side fanatic, and the depressing separation between her and the man she loves in Han Solo.
Leia has not had an easy life, in fact she’s had if not the hardest, one of the toughest journeys in Star Wars and this is really apparent in The Last Jedi.