Rian Johnson explains why he made those bold decisions in The Last Jedi

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Thanks to the internet, we’ve come to realise just how fickle fans can be about franchises they are passionate about. No franchise more so than Star Wars, as its legacy has just continued to build over the more than 40 years of its existence. Perhaps a reason why almost every time a new move is made, there are many criticisms that it’s just not like the original trilogy was and has lost the plot. Headcanon is a weird thing.

The point is though that part of what made that first trilogy of films (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi) so special is that they actually broke conventional storytelling moulds of their time and took cinema into a new and unexpected direction. So, for future movies to honour this direction should they just keep telling the story the way it has always been or capture that spirit and try something new?

That was the dilemma that Rian Johnson was faced with when he directed The Last Jedi, arguably the most maligned and criticised Star Wars film, where he made the decision to break with many Star Wars conceptions and try to be bold in taking it in a new direction, as he shared in a recent podcast with Joseph Gordon-Levitt:

I think the instant you start thinking in terms of how do you not step outside of the bounds of what the original movies did, you’re not thinking the way the people who made the original movies did. They were with every movie, they were pushing it forward, with every movie they were stepping outside those bounds and pushing the characters into new, emotionally honest, but surprising places. That’s why those movies are great. That’s why they’re alive. If they had been looking at something that came before it and saying, ‘Oh, we better not do this because that is outside of this or that,’ it would’ve been different.

It’s a concept which I can connect with in what Johnson tried to do with his Star Wars film, though I do feel like he did overdo it a little by trying to deliberately break fan expectations. He broke a lot of what JJ Abrams popular The Force Awakens had been building towards. (It was also ruined by some pointless casino diversions too).

I do feel though that Johnson has the right idea, and though his movie served as a poor sequel to The Force Awakens, it was still a great Star Wars movie – just one that should’ve perhaps been shaped with characters that people weren’t already very attached to. It does give me hope though that whenever we do get to see the trilogy of films he is working on, that he can not just create a great Star Wars experience, but one that pushes the boundaries and expectations of the franchise too.

Last Updated: August 23, 2019

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