Joseph Gordon-Levitt shares his analysis of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, feeling Lucasfilm should be commended for the storytelling risks they took in regards to the portrayal of Luke Skywalker. Ever since the film was released about a month ago, it has proven to be one of the most polarizing blockbusters in recent memory. While some viewers feel it’s the best entry in the saga since The Empire Strikes Back, there are others who would like to see it removed from Star Wars canon. Most of the varying opinions stem from the creative choices writer/director Rian Johnson made, as he looked to take the narrative of the Skywalker saga in a very different direction.
One of the biggest sticking points has been the portrayal of Luke himself. Mark Hamill infamously made waves when he said he initially fundamentally disagreed with his character’s arc (criticisms he has grown to regret). In The Last Jedi, Luke is a damaged and weary man who has intentionally removed himself from the fight as he lives out the rest of his days in isolation. It was a far cry from the hero audiences grew to love over the course of the original trilogy, but to Gordon-Levitt, that’s part of what makes it so compelling.
The actor posted his thoughts on Episode VIII on Medium after seeing it in theaters and reading through some of the discourse that has transpired. Given his history with Johnson (Gordon-Levitt has appeared in all of the director’s films), it isn’t surprising he enjoyed The Last Jedi, but his essay is still worth reading. In Gordon-Levitt’s mind, having Luke change so drastically in the sequel trilogy allowed Johnson “to tell a story about one of the most universal truths in human experience – getting older.” Additionally, having Skywalker be worse off after what happened with Ben Solo lended depth to his character, creating a fascinating portrait of a flawed individual. Luke’s cynicism is a necessary component for the movie’s finale to be as rewarding as it is, with Luke showing he’s regained his faith in the galaxy.
Gordon-Levitt argues if Luke remained the same from the original trilogy, it would have been a “missed opportunity.” There’s certainly truth to that sentiment. A case can be made what Johnson did with the character was the only logical path to follow considering how The Force Awakens ended. The Luke viewers were familiar with was someone who abandoned his Jedi training to help his friends and believed Darth Vader could be redeemed. The older Skywalker needed to be on Ahch-To alone for a reason, willingly distancing himself from the fight. Seeing him flee in shame and wait around to die was tough to watch, but that was the point. The 30 years between trilogies had a severe impact on Luke, and much like real-world people, his view of the world changed as he grew older.
It’s worth mentioning Gordon-Levitt isn’t trying to change anyone’s opinion on The Last Jedi, as he’s a champion for subjectivity in art. He’s simply stating what he thought of the movie and why it worked for him. Regardless of how one felt about the movie, there’s no denying it sought to break the traditional Star Wars mold and set the stage for a (hopefully) exciting future as the franchise moves to its next era. Once upon a time, George Lucas rolled the dice when he directed the first Star Wars film, back when just about everyone was convinced it would bomb. If Lucasfilm’s cash cow is to stay viable, they can’t keep playing it safe and need to take chances every once in a while. Since Johnson is now developing a new trilogy, it would appear Kathleen Kennedy is onboard.
Source: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
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