Rian Johnson Reflects On Luke’s “Peaceful” Finale In Star Wars: The Last Jedi
“It’s time for the Jedi…to end.”
As it turns out, Luke’s grave warning came from a place of self-inflicted isolation – the Jedi Order doesn’t have to end, per se, it simply has to take on a new life.
That’s a responsibility that has largely been placed on the shoulders of Rey, Daisy Ridley’s Force-sensitive heroine who fought for Ben Solo in the hope that Adam Driver’s mercurial anti-hero would return to the Resistance. As Star Wars: The Last Jedi began to unfurl, though, it became obvious that her attempts were in vain.
But with Luke Skywalker ostensibly out of the picture – Force ghost in Episode IX notwithstanding – Rey will be tasked with bringing the First Order down to size late next year. However, before we get swept up in the future of Star Wars, Rian Johnson recently partook in a spoiler-filled discussion of The Last Jedi with Empire (the magazine, not the galactic regime), in which the writer-director offered a play-by-play breakdown of Luke’s epic arc.
He’s taken himself out of the fight, he’s sitting on that island in exile. I know the Luke I grew up with is not a coward, he’s not sitting out there hiding, so I had to come up with a reason he was there that was active and positive, and something I could genuinely believe I could think in his shoes. And the thing that came to me that seemed to make sense to me is this notion that he seems this hero worship of him and of the Jedi that is detrimental to the galaxy.
Told through the lens of Rey, who descends on Ahch-To expecting to find some all-powerful legend, Star Wars: The Last Jedi paints Luke in a very different light, and we understand Mark Hamill initially took issue with Rian Johnson’s direction.
After much deliberation, the two creators wound up singing from the same hymn sheet, allowing Luke to make the ultimate sacrifice:
The universe has put its faith in its false god of the Jedi and they need to forget the religion so they can get back to god, that light can rise from a worthier source. And because he’s the last Jedi and a symbol of that, it then becomes this self-sacrifice he has to do to take himself out of it when he knows his friends are dying, when he knows the thing he’d like to do is get back in the fight. He’s taken the weight of the world on his shoulders by taking himself out of the equation so that the Jedi can die out.
If Rey represents the future with her naivety and impulsiveness, then Luke Skywalker is the living embodiment of the old guard, one who has evidently inspired a new generation of heroes with his final act.
The end of the movie is him embracing the part of the past that the present needs, which right now is the legend of Luke Skywalker, they need something to believe in, they need that action figure of Luke Skywalker to grab on to, that inspiration to stare up at the stars and believe that you can be a hero.
I wanted Luke’s death to be peaceful, to be on his terms I wanted it to be a victory. I wanted it to be that he’s done this huge grand act that has restored the spark of hope to the galaxy. I’m hesitant to put into words what he does in the end, but it is completed.
After two movies in three years, Lucasfilm has bumped off two Star Wars icons in Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Both death scenes were very different, but no less impactful, which only has us all the more intrigued by Episode IX. Expect that one to arrive on December 20th, 2019.