Essays · Movies

What Russian Bots Wanted From ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

There are some fascinating little tidbits in the ‘Last Jedi’ production documentary, ‘The Director and The Jedi.’
The Director And The Jedi
By  · Published on March 12th, 2018

There are some fascinating little tidbits in the ‘Last Jedi’ production documentary, ‘The Director and The Jedi.’

There’s a striking juxtaposition presented very early in Anthony Wonke’s documentary The Director and the Jedi, a juiced-up 90-minute behind the scenes featurette that played today at South By Southwest (SXSW) and will be available to the masses tomorrow via the digital release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It is perhaps the only part of the doc that gives us a good sense of the timeline in relation to what was happening in the world. While the documentary covers the entire production, including numerous nods to internet reactions, heightened security, and the untimely loss of Carrie Fisher, the doc does not otherwise give us a good sense of context with the outside world.

That is, except for a moment early in the film in which Rian Johnson, speaking with someone candidly during a production meeting, explains an online effort by Russian Bots to influence the direction of the film. By now, we’re all aware of Russian Bots online and their many political goals, but it comes as a surprise to learn of their efforts around Star Wars. “It’s amazing,” Johnson explains. “There’s a coordinated effort by these Russian accounts. Hundreds of them.”

What did these highly coordinated Russian Twitter accounts want from the director of the new Star Wars film? To not kill General Hux, says Johnson. Coordinating around the hashtag #HuxLive, Russian accounts flooded Johnson’s mentions early in the production to ensure that their favorite oppressor made it through the new trilogy. Why the Russians bots love Hux is clear now — they are way into authoritarian regimes — but at the time, it appears to have been perplexing for Johnson and his collaborators on The Last Jedi.

It’s one of many interesting insights into the production present in the documentary, which flashes back and forth between the craftsmanship of the film and the relationship between its director and star, weaving together a fascinating look at how such a massive movie came together. To its credit, The Director and the Jedi gives the audience exactly what it wants: some conflict, a level of intimacy with its filmmaker, and some deeper analysis about some of the film’s more controversial story choices. In short, it’s a must see whether you loved The Last Jedi or you hated The Last Jedi or you just want to see the authoritarian live.

With Rian Johnson set to take the stage at SXSW later today, we have plenty more coverage from The Director and the Jedi in the works. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, The Last Jedi is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and iTunes.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)