“Last Jedi” Helmer On The Lack Of A Trilogy Plan

There’s been a lot of talk over the weekend about Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” with some really loving it, some outright despising it, and quite a few just plain baffled by some of the decisions made. Now, in some new interviews, Johnson has cleared up some things.

First up he’s confirmed to Deadline something that many expected and had been hinted at plenty of times before. One of the main criticisms being lobbied at the film is all to do with it being the middle act of a trilogy and how it deviates from classic conventions of that storytelling structure.

Johnson tells the trade that Lucasfilm is approaching these movies with no real pre-planned story or outline in place, so he was given full freedom to do what he wanted and had no guidelines as to where they would eventually go with the next film:

“That’s what’s been really cool about the storytelling process. There is definitely the idea that we know it is a three-movie arc. We know the first film is an introduction, then the middle act is training, meaning challenging the characters. The third is where they all come together and you have to resolve everything.

But I was truly able to write this script without bases to tag, and without a big outline on the wall. That meant I could react to what I felt from The Force Awakens, and what I wanted to see. I could make this movie personal. I could also just take these characters where it felt right and most interesting to take them.

I think part of the reason the movie feels like it goes to some unexpected places with the characters is that we had that freedom. If it had all just been planned out and written down beforehand, it might have felt a little more calculated, I suppose.”

Johnson also defended the film’s criticised use of humor, telling Vanity Fair he was trying to evoke the humor from the original trilogy:

“That was something that was really, really important to me. That’s part of what I enjoy in movies. It’s part of what I enjoy in Star Wars. I think about Han and Leia and Luke wisecracking their way through the Death Star. The movies always had that sense of humor. Especially coming into the middle chapter, it has a stigma of always being darker. I knew it was going to get darker in some spots just because of what we had to do. It was really important to me, to, at the very outset, make a bold statement of, we’re going to have fun here also. Relax, you can laugh with it also, this isn’t just going to be a dirge.”

The result is director J.J. Abrams now has a much more demanding job with the next episode. Quite a few elements that he setup in the first film were either discarded or minimised by Johnson, at the same time some new ones have cropped up.

Criticised for copying & pasting A New Hope’s template in “The Force Awakens,” Johnson’s film has made it impossible for Abrams’ to borrow from “Return of the Jedi” – he now has to come up with something fresh that provides closure, makes good use of what elements he has left and satisfies a fanbase left a little divided by Johnson’s film – all within the next seventeen months. It’s not an enviable job for anyone, and probably has some even more thankful Colin Trevorrow left the job.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is now in cinemas.