Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has responded to criticism concerning the film's high body count and its subversion of franchise traditions. Even after Episode VIII has been out for six months, viewers continue to passionately debate its various pros and cons. A sizable portion of the fan base did not like what Johnson did with the material, as some of his creative choices changed the very fabric of the film series. Luke Skywalker's portrayal, Rey's parentage, and the fate of Supreme Leader Snoke remain hotly-contested due to the bevy of fan theories they generated for two years after The Force Awakens.
One would think that the dust would have settled by now, but there seems to be no end in sight for the backlash. It wasn't too long ago an anti-Disney group harassed Last Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran off social media, and a some viewers even campaigning to raise funding to produce an Episode VIII remake so the narrative is up to their standards. Now, someone is trying to use the words of George Lucas to illustrate how Johnson ruined Star Wars.
Twitter user SYNCHRONIC DESIGN posted an image of a transcript of a conversation between Lucas and veteran Star Wars writer Lawrence Kasdan, where the two debated over killing a character. Lucas argued he wanted everyone to stay alive since "this is a fairy tale" and it was intended to have a happy ending. Johnson responded by sharing images of multiple deaths in the original trilogy, as well as explaining that Last Jedi "100% distills what the spirit & heart of SW" is to him and saying the new Star Wars films need to be personal - as the originals were for Lucas.
It's been noted that Lucas and Kasdan had disagreements over killing a main hero character (possibly Han Solo) to raise the emotional stakes of Return of the Jedi. While we can't say for certain, this magazine clipping could be taken from those discussions (and cherrypicked by SYNCHRONIC DESIGN to make a point). Kasdan only joined the franchise with The Empire Strikes Back, which was written in the late-70s. Lucas' comment to Kasdan, "You're a product of the 1980s" makes it seem likely this was from development on Return. Lucas, of course, wasn't averse to killing characters off, but at the time he thought Return of the Jedi was going to be the last movie and he wanted to close things out on a high note. As for Johnson's thoughts, the argument can be made Last Jedi honors the themes of Star Wars. His deconstructive approach will forever be polarizing, but as a lifelong fan, he sought out to tell the story that represented the core ideals he took away from the earlier movies.
Obviously, all films are subjective, and when something as large as Star Wars is involved, there's no pleasing everyone. However, it may be time for everyone to take a step back and just agree to disagree. No side is going to win this argument, and the discourse has reached a point where it's becoming exhausting (even for those who live and breathe Star Wars). For the time being, Johnson isn't leaving the galaxy far, far away, as he's hard at work figuring out his new trilogy, so Lucasfilm must have agreed he knows what makes the series so great.
Source: SYNCHRONIC DESIGN
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019