The great Star Wars revival keeps chugging along, with the recently titled Star Wars: The Last Jedi currently making its way through post-production. As the eighth episode in the Skywalker family saga, there’s obviously a sizable interest in seeing the story unfold, especially since the movie’s name is quite ambiguous and has a multitude of meanings fans have been analyzing since the announcement earlier this week. It could be a reference to Luke Skywalker, Rey, or quite possibly the entire Jedi Order itself. With the first trailer coming through the pipeline, the picture will hopefully become clearer soon.
Writer/director Rian Johnson is the man tasked with telling this narrative, and it’s safe to say many are excited to watch what he has in store. Johnson has earned much acclaim for his previous projects, including the sci-fi drama Looper and some standout episodes of Breaking Bad. Of course, Star Wars is his most high-profile gig to date (possibly ever), and it presented a fair amount of challenges for all involved. Johnson has now opened up on his approach to Episode VIII.
Speaking with Empire, the filmmaker touched on certain aspects of The Last Jedi. After providing a brief update on the editing process, he explained the hardest part of crafting dialogue for a galaxy far, far away:
“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.”
Longtime fans are well aware that there is a very specific feel and sound to Star Wars dialogue, and if something is even a little off in that regard, it could derail the entire film. The original trilogy was characterized by its old school charm, and the trick is to find the right balance between honoring that and updating it for 2017 audiences (which have different tastes and sensibilities than those from the 1980s). The Force Awakens provided a nice template to follow, since many were in agreement that it successfully recaptured the space opera tone of its predecessors. It’s encouraging that Johnson was aware of this while penning the script, and he probably had a helping hand or two from Lucasfilm’s story group. Being aware of potential pratfalls is a good way to avoid them, and Johnson is certainly capable of delivering a strong screenplay.
Johnson also mentioned that the “intimacy of the process” was what surprised him the most during principal photography. He stated that while the scope (and expectations) are far larger than anything he’s done before, he did find some similarities between The Last Jedi and his earlier work:
“I guess the biggest surprise was the intimacy of the process. It’s huge, sure, and it’s filled with pressures great and small. But at the end of the day, it boils down to the same things as the smaller films we’ve made: telling a story we care about with a camera and some actors. And a Wookiee.”
Star Wars movies are at their best when they’re character-driven and tell relatable, humanistic stories that enthrall audiences. Based on all that’s come out about The Last Jedi so far, it would appear that was Johnson’s intention when making Episode VIII, as he primarily wanted to explore more about the cast and place them in challenging situations. Of course, the tentpole is going to serve up plenty of genre thrills and action sequences, but in order to truly connect like the other installments, the substance needs to be there. That Johnson didn’t lose sight of that fact bodes well for Episode VIII, and audiences should be in for a treat this December.