Rian Johnson Explains “Last Jedi” Choices

Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” shows us several things we’ve not seen in a “Star Wars” film before, most notably use of Force powers different to things seen in the past.

Speaking to The Los Angeles Times, Johnson has offered some insight into those changes and explains each of the moments in a way that might help fans understand some of his choices:

“The truth is, because “Star Wars” until “The Force Awakens” has been set in amber and we hadn’t had a new “Star Wars” movie in ten years, you forget that they were introducing new Force stuff with each movie, based on the requirements of the story. Force-grabbing didn’t come around until “Empire,” it wasn’t in “A New Hope.” Same with Force ghosts. They’d introduce new ideas of what could happen with the Force each time.”

The most infamous moment is Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia, seemingly dead in space, using the Force to fly back onto the ship:

“That was something Kathy [Kennedy] was always asking: Why has this never manifested in Leia? She obviously made a choice, because in “Return of the Jedi” Luke tells her, “You have that power too.” I liked the idea that it’s not Luke concentrating, reaching for the lightsaber; it’s an instinctual survival thing, like when you hear stories of a parent whose toddler is caught under a car and they get superhuman strength, or a drowning person clawing their way to the surface. It’s basically just her not being done with the fight yet. I wanted it to happen [for Carrie] and I knew it was going to be a stretch. It’s a big moment, and I’m sure it will land different ways for different people, but for me it felt like a really emotionally satisfying thing to see.”

There’s also Yoda manipulating the real world from beyond the grave, causing lightning to strike the tree:

“The one point where we do introduce a bit of a twist in terms of Force ghosts is where Yoda calls down the lightning onto the tree. That, I think, is a tantalizing hint of the potential of someone who is a Force ghost interacting with the real world.”

There’s also Kylo and Rey’s conversations which Johnson says was done to get the characters talking and comfortable with each other, but without being in the same place:

“I knew I wanted them to talk, and to talk enough to where we could go from “I hate you,” to her being forced to actually engage with him. That’s where the idea of these “Force connections” came from, which is kind of a new thing. It’s a little bit of a riff on what happens with Vader and Luke at the end of “The Empire Strikes Back,” but it’s entirely new in some regards.”

That power ties into Luke projecting a version of himself to Crait and how that act of sustained will ultimately takes so much out of him:

“When Luke shows up he’s projecting, it’s like a hardcore variation of what Kylo and Rey have been doing the whole time and that’s why it takes so much out of him….We tried to play really, really fair. In terms of his footsteps – we removed all of his foley — there are no footstep sounds. They never touch. And if you look, the salt flakes that are falling are sparking off of Kylo’s saber and not off of Luke’s.”

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