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57 Things We Learned from Rian Johnson’s ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Commentary

“Just ruining all the magic here.”
The Last Jedi Kylo Stare
By  · Published on March 21st, 2018

29. They shot a “teachable moment” sequence where Luke mentally fabricates an attack on the island village for Rey to respond to and then get angry about, but they decided it was unnecessary. It’s available on the deleted scenes.

30. He sat down for conversations with several people after accepting the job, from Lawrence Kasdan to J.J. Abrams, but he also spent a couple weeks hanging out with Rick Carter who’s “kind of an unseen Yoda” on these films. “If you know Rick, you know that when you’re talking with him about story you aren’t talking about action scenes, set-pieces, toys… you’re talking about what matters to you in the story, you’re talking about the mythic stuff behind it all.” It was important that he received the “permission” to start there with the film, and he credits Carter with essentially giving his blessing.

31. The scene where Luke blows the wall of the hut apart after discovering Rey and Kylo “chatting” was accomplished with practical effects and pieces of wall on wires.

32. The commentary was recorded before the film opened, “so I haven’t heard what anyone actually thinks about this.”

33. Part of the reason why Rey calls out Luke’s hubris and suggests that a reformed Kylo could turn the tide is that her character needed a real justification for why she would risk visiting Kylo in an attempt to turn him to the light side.

34. They found the original puppet mold of Yoda from Empire Strikes Back and recreated it for Frank Oz to use and operate here.

35. “I was very conscious of kind of the history of scoundrels in the Star Wars universe,” he says, adding that audiences have been conditioned to expect that they will always come around in the end and do what’s right. “With DJ (Benicio Del Toro) I knew that I didn’t want that to happen.”

36. He gives a shout out to Infocom games — stone cold classic text adventures from the late 70s and 80s — and he mentions that not only does he still have the Zorkmid coin that came with copies of the game Zork but that he also snuck it into the shot at 1:25:22 of all the coins that DJ’s pocketing. Side note, the Infocom games are still well-worth seeking out, and I highly recommend Deadline, Suspended, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Leather Goddesses of Phobos.

37. DJ’s “true cynicism” regarding the galaxy’s arms dealers and how they supply both “sides” in the eternal war “felt dangerous” to bring into the Star Wars universe, but he felt it was important to the film and Finn’s journey.

38. The exchange where Poe asks if Finn found the hacker and Finn replies that he found a hacker is a nod to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

- You got my note! - Well, I got a note.

39. The small pod that Rey travels in to reach Kylo’s ship resembles a coffin and may have been inspired by Johnson’s love of C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra.

40. It took twenty takes to get the shot right where a disguised BB-8 tosses the communicator to Finn and he catches it.

41. Yes, you can see Dern say “pew” as she fires her blaster at 1:34:11 which “she could never not do every time she shot it.

42. The goodbye between Holdo and Leia is among Johnson’s favorite scenes, and while he doesn’t explain why these space ships lack autopilot functions or the ability to be piloted remotely he does recall working with Dern and Fisher to fine tune their final exchange into this moment.

43. He’s a “super fan” of Mike Leigh’s Topsy Turvy and kept quoting it to Serkis (who stars in the film) until it became too creepy.

44. Regarding the tension between Poe and Holdo, he credits the Battlestar Galactica reboot (one of the top five shows ever IMO) with inspiring the idea that there can be discord between the good guys.

45. Del Toro suggested his closing line be “maybe,” and Johnson immediately swapped out what he had written and went with it.

46. Ridley and Driver did an immense amount of training for their big shared fight against the Praetorian guards, and their efforts paid off in that Johnson didn’t have to use long lenses or editing trickery to conceal their inadequacies or the faces of stunt performers. He was able to shoot wide and show the two of them actually doing the fights.

47. He does not comment on delivering the first recorded instance of Empire armor actually working as armor and deflecting a blaster shot at 1:53:18.

48. They had discussed what Captain Phasma’s (Gwendoline Christie) exposed eye should look like when her helmet is busted, and it was Ridley who suggested it should be “normal, just like a beautiful eye.” Johnson loved the idea of it not being something monstrous or deformed.

49. His goal with Kylo was two-fold. One, he wanted to reveal Kylo’s vulnerability and softer side through Rey’s eyes, and two, “I wanted to bring him closer to being the villain that he wanted to be in The Force Awakens.”

50. Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) is behind Poe at 1:58:17, Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz) is seen facing the camera at 1:58:21 as BB-8 rolls towards Poe, and Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) is in the trench at 1:59:18.

51. He knew he wanted walkers as they’re one of his favorite designs “in all of movie history,” and while they wanted to update it they didn’t want to change it too much. They eventually settled on the “gorilla walker” style to imply their greater strength.

Last Jedi Gorilla Walkers

52. He does not comment on Finn’s stupidity — not in continuing with his suicide mission — but in flying straight in line with the battering ram cannon’s destructive beam instead of maybe I don’t know shifting ten feet to either side.

53. “It felt like church on set” on the day they filmed the scene with Fisher and Hamill. She added the hair joke, and he added the kiss on her forehead.

54. The idea of having Luke return as a Force projection was necessitated by wanting him to visit Leia and face Kylo without it ending the expected way. “I knew he couldn’t kill Kylo, and I didn’t want Kylo to kill Luke.” He wanted Luke’s death at the end of the film to be peaceful and the opposite of Han’s from The Force Awakens.

55. They removed the sounds of Luke’s footsteps from this scene as projections have no weight.

56. The three resistance fighters who stand up into the frame at 2:09:16 are Hamill’s kids.

57. The coda is meant as confirmation that Luke succeeded in “reigniting the hope in the galaxy. That’s what these movies are hopefully all about.”

Best in Context-Free Commentary

“Here’s the bad guys. Here comes the big ship.”

“Here’s our little Star Wars: Tokyo Drift moment.”

“We’re gonna De Palma this moment. We’re gonna stretch it out kind of to a ridiculous degree.”

“Sorry, it’s tough to keep your train of thought on a serious topic while there are porgs onscreen. I apologize.”

“I will never take Steadicam operators for granted again. That thing is like a medieval torture device.”

“So patient waiting for some good Finn stuff in the movie, and now we’re about to get it.”

“This is the most obscure Young Ones reference ever put into a Star Wars movie.”

“I love Snoke’s gold outfit.”

“Meanwhile, back in space.”

“Make them look like Looney Toons boulders.”

Buy Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Blu-ray from Amazon

Final Thoughts

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a good movie, and as is always the case Rian Johnson gives a fantastic commentary. It’s detailed, congratulatory, humble, and filled with interesting anecdotes about the production, cast, and crew. Fans will definitely want to give it a listen.

Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.