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About Making 'Star Wars' Films, 'Last Jedi' Director Rian Johnson Said Things That Are Difficult to Understand

Updated on July 25, 2018
Rhett Wilkinson profile image

Rhett has won 12 awards from the Society of Professional Journalists or Religion Newswriters Association. He's on Twitter @rhettrites.

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" Director Rian Johnson
"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" Director Rian Johnson | Source

Filmmaker Rian Johnson had someone in mind when making “Star Wars: The Last Jedi" -- himself.

“For me, ‘The Last Jedi’ 100 percent distills what the spirit and heart of (‘Star Wars’) has been in my life,” Johnson wrote in a tweet. “Yes, it is personal.”

Johnson also said that “Star Wars films will truly betray the heart and spirit of the originals if they lose” being personal for the directors. He added that in making “Star Wars,” “it’s a certain point of view.”

As I tweeted to Johnson, whose “Last Jedi” was more liberal than other “Star Wars” films, it is awful that the “Star Wars” fan community has so many followers of the alt-right.

But I did pose him two questions after he claimed that the original “Star Wars” trilogy was “personal for (director George Lucas)” and that “The Last Jedi” is the same for Johnson.

(He didn’t reply, though I didn't expect him to. However, he sometimes has returned tweets about "The Last Jedi.")

I asked him why he was saying that the original trilogy was personal for Lucas as “The Last Jedi” was personal for Johnson, and why Johnson thought it was so important that “The Last Jedi” be about “the spirit and heart of (Star Wars) … in (his) life.”

The thing is that the original trilogy being personal for Lucas is a rather arbitrary statement from Johnson. If this is true, it is news; this isn’t generally an understanding of Lucas’ relationship to the original trilogy.

What we know about Lucas’ motivations for making the original trilogy were to make major spectacles, family soap operas in space, films for 12-year-olds; a story reflective of The Hero’s Journey, a storytelling method.

None of those are the motivation Johnson claimed was Lucas'.

As for Johnson’s philosophy of “Star Wars” directors’ approaches to those films, one could say it is selfish of him.

Johnson doesn’t need to do a fan-service film, either, but it’s notable that he said that his “Star Wars” film was for himself.

Not a film for the saga. The characters. The story.

Johnson also described the original trilogy as “alive” before saying that “being alive means being messy.”

However, the original trilogy, while not without criticism, doesn't usually get that sort of critique. It is also beloved by enthusiasts, much less not disliked like “The Last Jedi” is. And it wasn’t disliked like even other “Star Wars” films Lucas made (the “prequel trilogy”), which are actually better-liked than “The Last Jedi.”

(Rotten Tomatoes enthusiast scores for the “Star Wars” original trilogy are as follows: “A New Hope,” 96 percent; “The Empire Strikes Back,” 97; “Return of the Jedi,” 94.

For the prequel trilogy: “The Phantom Menace,” 59; “Attack of the Clones,” 56; “Revenge of the Sith,” 65.

For "The Last Jedi”: 46.)

Johnson seems to forget that “The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (each 87 percent) are rather considered to be “alive” but aren’t criticized like his “Star Wars” film.

You also must wonder if Johnson thinks his “Star Wars” film is as good as the original “Star Wars” trilogy, given that he rolled his film exclusively into talk about the original trilogy. Of course, that's beside the other half-dozen “Star Wars” films (aside from other “Star Wars” movies and television shows).

If Johnson holds his film in that view, I am not sure how many, even the most ardent fans of his "Star Wars" film, would agree with that. "A New Hope" is considered to have changed the entire filmmaking industry forever.

Johnson made his remarks about Lucas and the original trilogy, himself and “The Last Jedi” and them being “personal” for the respective directors after apologizing to a Twitter user if he didn’t like “The Last Jedi,” as a continuation of a conversation that began with a publicized share of Lucas’ disagreement with “Star Wars” Lawrence Kasdan over killing main characters.

In his "Star Wars" film, Johnson has Luke Skywalker complain about the Jedi's "hubris." Does Johnson have the same issue?

© 2018 Rhett Wilkinson

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