While it seems as though a vast amount of information about Star Wars: The Last Jedi emanated from the recent Disney D23 Expo, those involved with the project are well practised at making necessarily vague allusions sound like interesting scoops. Occasionally, however, something actually useful slips out, and that’s what we have from a conversation between writer-director Rian Johnson, and Erik Davis from Fandango.
While speaking to the filmmaker at D23 this past weekend, the outlet asked Johnson where he drew inspiration from for The Last Jedi, and here’s what he had to say:
“The automatic temptation is to say, ‘Well it’s a middle chapter, so it’s got kind of that Empire thing. But at the same time, I really wanted to maintain the same sense of fun that J.J. [Abrams] had in The Force Awakens, that to some extent in Return Of The Jedi, which I was like 10 years old, that was prime for me when that came out, and the sense of playfulness, I think.
“So when I say Empire, I guess I don’t want to give the impression that it’s kind of a dark, gloom and doom. It was also really important to me that this was a fun adventure. I don’t know, it’s a mixed bag of a lot of different stuff. And hopefully some unique stuff too.”
This is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Firstly, while Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released to rapturous reception, one of the main criticisms of it was that it mirrored the story beats of 1977’s A New Hope too closely. That being the case, to hear Rian Johnson say that The Last Jedi will be influenced by films other than The Empire Strikes Back – which followed A New Hope – gives the impression that he paid close attention to that audience reaction, and was mindful of it when crafting his script. In addition, his comment that he hopes there’s “some unique stuff too,” bodes well that this filmmaker will be bringing some new threads to the core Star Wars saga.
It’s perhaps the title, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, that caused a little concern that this second instalment of the re-booted franchise would follow the structure of the original trilogy too closely. Those three films very clearly stuck to a ‘hopeful-defeated-hopeful again’ pattern, and to have The Force Awakens, followed by The Last Jedi certainly suggests that might be about to recur. Rian Johnson is offering reassurance here, however, and it sounds as though we might just see something that exceeds our high expectations when the film is released on December 15th.