The first 12 minutes of the documentary The Director and the Jedi, chronicling Rian Johnson's journey making Star Wars: The Last Jedi have debuted online. Lucasfilm is hyping up Episode VIII's impending home media release by teasing fans with the abundance of special features that will be available on the Blu-ray. Besides the 14 deleted scenes, arguably the most anticipated supplement is the aforementioned feature-length documentary, which takes viewers inside Lucasfilm for an intimate look at the making of the film.
The Director and the Jedi was recently screened for attendees at SXSW 2018, where it's earned rave reactions. While the general public awaits their opportunity to see the documentary in full, a short preview is now available to watch.
Released as an exclusive to IMDb, the video consists of the first slice of the documentary, beginning with fans reacting to Johnson's hiring. Other highlights include Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill reading through the script with Johnson, Kathleen Kennedy and producer Ram Bergman, and Johnson joking about Russian Twitter accounts demanding General Hux stay alive (which, of course, happened). Viewers also get a sense of the massive scope of a Star Wars movie, as it's revealed 120 sets were constructed for the 100-day shoot and everything had to be perfectly aligned to finish it all on schedule. As Bergman says, even if one person got sick, it threatened to derail the operation.
It's been well-documented now that The Last Jedi is one of the most polarizing blockbusters in recent memory due to Johnson's various creative choices. This documentary probably won't change opinions, but it will hopefully provide greater insight into the whole process. Johnson notes in sound bites he approaches his movies as if he were a fan, looking for a film that entertains him in ways he didn't expect. The Last Jedi certainly delivered some major surprises (most notably Supreme Leader Snoke's death) that made the Skywalker saga formula feel fresh again after 40 years. At the very least, The Director and the Jedi will be definitive proof Johnson's script was not a corporate-mandated response to criticisms The Force Awakens played things too safe. Johnson set out to tell the Star Wars story he wanted to tell, and everyone at Lucasfilm was onboard.
Star Wars home releases frequently include behind-the-scenes documentaries (Empire of Dreams, The Beginning), and it sounds like The Director and the Jedi is a worthy addition to that legacy. For cinephiles, it should be a fascinating retrospective, since Johnson went from worrying about being an outsider to the overseer of an all-new Star Wars trilogy separate from the Skywalker narrative. Everyone on Last Jedi was quite open about how wonderful an experience it was, so this project is poised to be a joyous celebration of one of 2017's biggest films.
- 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