Why Does Every Star Wars Episode End Without Dialogue?

It’s a known fact that Lucas got a lot of inspiration from World War II, and that connection came full circle with a film that redefined the rules of war more than anything since the Geneva conventions. Dunkirk runs for precisely 106 minutes, and the characters talk for about five of them. Imagine piecing together all the wordless battle scenes that ever occurred in Star Wars: a Star Destroyer plunging headfirst into a landing field and disintegrating into a ball of flame. The murder of Jedi on numerous worlds across the galaxy during Order 66. A hijacked AT-ST rampaging through Imperial forces occupying a forest moon.

That would be a good movie. Even without Tom Hardy.

Vanquishing dialogue from a film may have been the boldest leap from what started in Star Wars, but what was the most impactful? The most evocative? The most Star Wars-y? That distinction belongs to Rian Johnson, the director of The Last Jedi and Breaking Bad alum who presided over an episode more glorious and devastating than any other in the show’s history.

There are two scenes in “Ozymandias” that Johnson imbued with the silencing power of the Force so that their emotional gravitas could be experienced in its purity. The first takes place in a desert like Jakku, where the memory of a happier, better, and not-too-distant time slowly fade and evaporate under the burning sun. Forty-five minutes later, the world has ended, and the future is one car traveling down a deserted road to the darkest corner of the Earth. Almost like Ahsoka leaving her former life behind after being cleared for murder, walking into the horizon without a single glance back at her longtime friend and mentor.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Johnson will use this element in The Last Jedi, a trend that J.J. Abrams continued splendidly in The Force Awakens and Gareth Edwards bucked with style in Rogue One. In the case of the former, Abrams wasn’t just paying homage to the original films; the wordless meeting between Luke and Rey among the ruins of the first Jedi Temple was like the “to be continued” message seen at the end of cliffhangers.

The opposite thing can be said about Rogue One, however, which told a story outside the cyclical narrative of the Star Wars saga—one that started without yellow paragraphs floating through space and ended by breaking the unwritten rules with a single word.

Believe it or not, this was a lot riskier than it looked. Because for everything that Star Wars has taught us about how good men become evil, republics transform into dictatorships, and rebellions rise from hope, one principle rules them all.

Life goes on, even when there’s nothing left to say.