Star Wars: The Last Jedi has a lot of deleted scenes, and rather than just being needless filler, some of them could have directly addressed the most common criticisms of the film. Episode VIII may have been met by overwhelming positivity from critics, but it's been much more divisive in the fanbase, with a seemingly neverending string of plot illogicies and character betrayals being cited. Much of this centers on the very concept of Rian Johnson's film, but some of them may be caused - or, rather, exacerbated - by certain scenes that were cut.
All Star Wars movies have a lot of cut content. The first movie was pretty much saved in the edit after entire sequences were removed, the scenes of Luke creating his lightsaber and the Death Star preparing to fire on Endor in Return of the Jedi are legendary, and so much of Lucas' vision for the prequels - including the origins of the rebellion - had to be culled for time. That's nothing on the Disney era; plot leaks for The Force Awakens revealed a grander scope (including Maz's Force powers) and Rogue One had its entire third act reshot. Production-wise, The Last Jedi was more smooth sailing, but there was still about thirty minutes of footage cut from the film between its assembly cut and theaters.
There'll be around 15 minutes of deleted scenes on the DVD, more than The Force Awakens, and while it's unconfirmed what these will be, several have been revealed by behind-the-scenes books and the filmmakers themselves (hat tip to /Film). While they are certainly interesting to just recount by themselves, what makes all of them so striking is how they would seemingly directly address core criticisms. None of this is to say the film would be markedly better because of these additions - Rian Johnson cut them for a reason - but they all counter already well-worn complaints.
Rey's Third Lesson (This Page)
Rey's Third Lesson Goes All-In On Anti-Luke
UPDATE: Footage of this scene has been officially revealed by Lucasfilm
The only shot in The Last Jedi's marketing to not make it into the final film - a stark contrast to both previous Disney-era films - is one of Rey running along an Ahch-To beach with her lightsaber ignited. This was for the longest time assumed to be part of a sequence where the Knights of Ren arrive on Ahch-To after Kylo Ren discovers the location of Luke's exile; a big fight set on the island was heavily reported on by fansites during Episode VII's production and presumed to be part of the film all through the marketing. Of course, as we now know, it's not in the film, nor does it really belong at any point. It's likely the result of false information (intentional or otherwise) and fan expectations (something The Last Jedi already heavily deviated from).
Indeed, the truth of that shot is something less intense, but still important; this was from Rey's third lesson. As reported by /Film and confirmed by editor Bob Ducsay to Collider, Rey saw approaching boats that Luke said were raiders who regularly sail over and ransack the Caretaker village. She rushed to save the creatures, only to discover what she thought were the fires of pillaging were in fact from a party, with the Caretakers, Chewbacca and R2-D2 assembled around a giant bonfire. Rey returned to Luke, who said he was trying to show her how a proactive hero is needed, not a dogmatic Jedi, something that infuriated Rey for both wasting her time while her friends are in danger and showing just how far he's gone from the Luke Skywalker legend.
This is probably the most important of the deleted scenes from a story level. It completes Rey's "training" in the ills of the Jedi and pushes her even further towards the decision to try and save Ben Solo - in the movie as is she only has two proper lessons, with the cave vision that would have followed this serving as the unofficial third - and makes abundantly clear where Luke stands before his Yoda-motivated turn in the third act. More granular, it rounds off the Caretaker running gag and provides a lighter segment to Ahch-To as the plot takes a darker turn. Connectivity and pacing in these pre-touch sequences are a key complaint, and this moment does tie several things together.
Johnson cut the scene mainly because it was deemed to push Luke too far into the realm of unlikeable. That would, of course, be the point, although considering how divisive the return of Skywalker already is, that was probably the right call. Indeed, the scene is ultimately underscoring character steps that were already made clear elsewhere rather than truly adding more to the story, so while it may have helped some dissenters feel the later developments had more grounding, it was an understandable moment to cut.
UPDATE: Lucasfilm has released footage from this scene.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019