As the ninth live-action film in the franchise, Star Wars: The Last Jedi includes some overt references to the galaxy far, far away’s rich history, but other homages are a little more subtle. Though Episode VIII has been out since last December, debate about the movie continues to circulate, especially now that it’s available for home viewing. It went down as one of the more divisive blockbusters in recent memory, with the most vocal detractors accusing writer/director Rian Johnson of not understanding what makes Star Wars great. A number of his creative choices, including the death of Supreme Leader Snoke, were quite polarizing.
However, like many of the Star Wars directors working on the modern films, Johnson is a passionate fan who has deep knowledge of what came before him. He used that to inform The Last Jedi, particularly on a visual level. As fans continue to spot hidden connections between Episode VIII and its predecessors, we’ve assembled a list of the ones we’ve noticed so far.
The Opening Music
Every film in the Skywalker saga starts out with John Williams’ iconic fanfare playing over an opening crawl. In The Last Jedi, the similarities extended to the opening notes of the score right after the text faded away. Back in 1977, before the Tantive IV came shooting down the screen, audiences were left on the edges of their seats with a mysterious little cue that indicated anything was possible. Perhaps it’s fitting that section of the New Hope music was repurposed for Last Jedi. Right after the crawl, the first few beats are eerily reminiscent (or identical) to the original film.
It’s possible this was just Johnson (or Williams, who wrote the score) tipping a hat to the past, but film music is rarely chosen at random. Whether it’s a classical score or a licensed soundtrack, the songs are meant to invoke certain feelings within viewers. Perhaps this was the filmmakers’ non-verbal way of telling moviegoers that The Last Jedi was going to be a different kind of ride from what we’ve become accustomed to in the Star Wars series, and that once again anything was possible. As Luke said, it wasn’t going to go the way you thought.
Luke’s Lightsaber Toss
The Force Awakens ended with the now-iconic and majestic image of Rey holding out Luke’s old lightsaber to Skywalker, asking him to pick up the sword and rejoin the fight. For two years, audiences waited to see how that cliffhanger would be resolved, so it was quite a shock to see Luke throw the weapon so nonchalantly over his shoulder. As Johnson explained, this was a blatant illustration of Luke’s current mindset. In his elder age, Luke rejected the fight due to his sense of guilt and shame, turning his back on his friends in the process. But this wasn’t the first time Skywalker so vehemently tossed aside his lightsaber.
While not an exact replication, this Last Jedi moment calls to mind the scene in Return of the Jedi after Luke defeats Darth Vader in a duel. Told by the Emperor to kill his father and become the new Sith apprentice, Luke throws it off-camera and stands his ground. In both cases, Luke was refusing a more violent path – though his psyche was in very different places. In the original trilogy, he triumphantly stated he was a Jedi, but many years later became convinced the Order was a sham. It’s still indicative of his character. When Luke achieved his final victory over Kylo Ren, he never made an aggressive move.
Chewie Cooks A Porg
In one of The Last Jedi’s funnier scenes, Chewbacca settles down by a campfire ready to dine on fine porg cuisine, before being guilted by the shocked expressions of the native Ahch-To creatures. Eventually, the Wookiee befriended (or at least grew to tolerate) the porgs, but their relationship got off to a rocky start. It’s not anything personal, however, as food is typically the first thing on Chewie’s mind.
Chewbacca’s fondness for snacks was specifically highlighted in Return of the Jedi, when Chewie set off an Ewok trap trying to eat a dead animal. As the group searched for a way out of their predicament, Han accused his friend of “always thinking with your stomach.” So it’s fitting that Chewie’s first inclination when seeing the porgs isn’t to adopt one as a pet, but to make one into a meal. To be fair, it’s not like Ahch-To had many dining establishments to choose from. Catching a porg is probably easier than Luke’s pole-vault fishing.
Luke Enters The Falcon
Luke Skywalker sadly never got a final moment with Han Solo before Han was murdered, leaving the Jedi to mourn his fallen friend in regret. In The Last Jedi, he steps aboard the Millennium Falcon one last time, having a fateful reunion with R2-D2. But before encountering his old astromech companion, the sequence has a far more somber feel to it, as Luke remains haunted by his previous life and the family that was fractured because of his failure. The first time audiences saw an original trilogy hero be reacquainted with the Falcon, the atmosphere was very different.
The shot of Luke walking into the ship’s cockpit is quite similar to the one of Han in Force Awakens. The two almost feel like mirrors of each other and help underscore their films’ tones. Han stealing back the Falcon for good was a crowd-pleasing moment, complete with light-hearted music and Solo sporting a giant smile on his face. He was home again. In contrast, Luke’s has far more weight and gravity to it, as he walks through the hallways to a darker rendition of the classic Force Theme. Han’s scene is even brighter in terms of the cinematography, illustrating it’s a moment we’re supposed to celebrate, not watch in hushed reverence. Another wrinkle here is originally J.J. Abrams filmed a shot where Han hung up his famous gold dice, but it was later cut. So Luke’s would have been a complete inverse if the sequence was left untouched.
Extras On The Raddus
In a deleted scene available on the Blu-ray, Poe Dameron fills Finn in on everything that happened from the time Finn went into his coma. As the pilot recaps, the two friends stop in a hallway, where a number of extras pass through on-camera, often times coming right in between Finn and Poe. This imagery should ring a bell for anyone well-versed in the original trilogy. It’s a trick pulled straight from The Empire Strikes Back.
When the Rebels are in their base on Hoth, Han and Leia get into an argument about Han leaving the Alliance, where some of their fellow soldiers make their way through the narrow passageway by squeezing between them. In his deleted scenes commentary, Johnson admitted he borrowed this tactic from Empire, saying that it helped bring the scene to life a bit. It’s unfortunate this fun callback didn’t make it to the theatrical cut (it’s also a nice moment between Finn and Poe), but fans can experience it on the home media release.
Spinning Is A Good Trick
Kylo Ren deeply admires the all-powerful Sith Lord his grandfather became, but he might have more in common with Anakin Skywalker than he’d like to admit. In addition to being another member of the family forever conflicted in his feelings, the former Ben Solo has some piloting skills that are displayed in Last Jedi. Kylo leads an attack on the Raddus, flying his special TIE fighter. As he navigates the space battle, he pulls off a spin maneuver that’s quite similar to a stunt Anakin pulled off as a boy during the Battle of Naboo.
It’s one of the more infamous lines in The Phantom Menace. As a young Anakin familiarizes himself with the controls of the N1 star fighter, he tells R2 he’ll try spinning because “that’s a good trick.” This is perhaps evidence of Ben’s piloting abilities coming from his mother’s side. Han is definitely no slouch, but a case can be made he exaggerated his talents a tad. The Force Awakens stresses the need to have a co-pilot in the Falcon, yet Chewie traverses the salt mine on Crait all by himself (with porgs flying through the cockpit for good measure). And the latest trailer for Solo sees Chewie appoint himself as Han’s first mate, obviously displeased with the way a situation is going. Maybe the Wookiee was the real flying ace of the dynamic duo.
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