Rian Johnson Reveals ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Influences

     January 27, 2017

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With Rogue One now marching on at the box office, Lucasfilm and Disney are finally ready to turn their attention towards marketing Star Wars: Episode VIII. The first order of business, which happened earlier this week, was announcing the title: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Ominous! And now a new interview with writer/director Rian Johnson has surfaced that offers the tiniest bit of insight into his take on the Star Wars universe.

Johnson is, obviously, picking up the baton from J.J. Abrams who essentially rebooted the Star Wars universe with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, crafting a new trilogy for modern audiences. Johnson serves as both writer and director on The Last Jedi, and unlike Force Awakens or Rogue One, we haven’t yet heard of any outside writer being brought in for a rewrite. So it’s possible The Last Jedi could be our first true auteur-driven Star Wars movie since the George Lucas films.

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Image via Sony Pictures

Johnson’s previous efforts (Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper) are all unique and yet wholly different from one another, so audiences have been curious to see just what kind of Star Wars movie he’ll put together. He previously teased some filmic influences for the film, including the 1949 war film Twelve O’Clock High, and in speaking with Empire he reiterated that influence while revealing a couple more:

Twelve O’Clock High was a big touchstone, for the feel and look of the aerial combat as well as the dynamic between the pilots. Three Outlaw Samurai for the feel of the sword-fighting, and the general sense of pulpy fun. And To Catch A Thief was a great film to rewatch, for the romantic scale and grandeur.”

To Catch a Thief is the most curious influence of the bunch there, and as Johnson is well-versed in classic cinema, it kind of makes sense that he’d turn to Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic thriller for a sense of scale and sweeping fun.

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Image via Disney / Lucasfilm

Johnson said he’s currently in the thick of editing, but when asked what the hardest thing about writing Star Wars dialogue was, he offered up a somewhat surprising answer:

“I found myself constantly wanting to push modern idioms into the dialogue, and sometimes that can work, but you have to be very careful. If you go too far you can break that Star Wars spell. The other challenge is the tech talk, which has to be simultaneously complex enough to sound real and conceptually simple enough to follow. The original films were brilliant at that.”

Indeed, the use of modern idioms is something I hadn’t considered, and while Lucasfilm is no doubt making these new Star Wars films for a modern audience, they’re also wanting them to work seamlessly with the previous films, and thus carry a timeless quality.

Johnson is an incredibly talented filmmaker, and The Last Jedi continues to sound like one hell of a Star Wars movie. The film is slated for release on December 15th.

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