It’s no secret that The Last Jedi is a divisive film. Despite being widely critically lauded, some sections of the fanbase truly do not love Rian Johnson‘s entry into the Star Wars universe, not one little bit. After The Force Awakens gave us a mostly satisfying film which hewed very closely to the model laid out by the original trilogy and took few risks, The Last Jedi thrusts its middle finger high in air not only to J.J. Abrams‘ film, but also to the extensive Star Wars mythos in its entirety.
Personally, I’m of the camp who thinks that TLJ – despite some rough edges – was a much-needed shot in the arm for the series, which looked like it was dangerously close to retreading the same narrative beats and themes Star Wars has been doing for the past 40 years. We’ve finally got something fresh and original to build off, both thematically and narratively, and that’s exciting to me.
Johnson, for his part, hears your complaints. In an interview with Business Insider, he said that he’s certainly sensed the anger from certain sections of the fanbase, largely because they are telling him to kill himself on Twitter. He gets it though – he’s been a Star Wars fan forever, so he knows what it’s like to be passionate about it.
Every fan has a list of stuff they want a “Star Wars” movie to be and they don’t want a “Star Wars” movie to be. You’re going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up […]And I knew if I wrote wondering what the fans would want, as tempting as that is, it wouldn’t work, because people would still be shouting at me, “F— you, you ruined ‘Star Wars,’” and I would make a bad movie. And ultimately, that’s the one thing nobody wants.
The biggest contention among a number of fans is that Johnson either discarded or directly repudiated a lot of the plot threads Abrams set up in TFA – like the identity of Rey‘s parents, and that Snoke fella. Though a lot of the discussion around TLJ suggests he was deliberately rejecting the absurd fan theories that sprang up – Snoke is Mace Windu? Really? – it turns out he’d written much of the script before TFA was even finished.
So it wasn’t like I was reading all these theories online and being at my typewriter and going “Ha! Ha! Gotcha!” It was me coming up with a story. I was writing purely from a personal reaction to the script of “The Force Awakens” and what they were shooting. Snoke, for example, I probably would have done the same thing regardless.
Johnson says that he plotted it the way he did because we’ve already seen the whole Emperor/Darth Vader shtick play out – so why do we need to see it again with Snoke and Kylo Ren? He identified that Ren was the most interesting thing in the film, so he decided to emphasise his arc.
Snoke’s fate came entirely out of Kylo’s arc and realising that in this movie the most interesting thing to me was for Kylo to be ascendant – to start by knocking the shaky foundation out from Kylo’s feet and then building him back up into a complicated but credible villain by the end of it. And one that Rey now has a more complex relationship with than just “I hate you, I want to kill you.”
There’s a lot more interesting going on in the interview – head on over to Business Insider to read more.Image: The Last Jedi