We all heard the rumors that Rian Johnson's Star: Wars The Last Jedi would just be a rehash of The Empire Strikes Back, and while it definitely wasn't, it turns out that one key moment was inspired by the 1980 classic.
Empire featured ice planets, floating cities, and that big "father" twist, while The Last Jedi focussed on an epic chase across the galaxy to snuff out the last of the Resistance. Sure, there were similarities between Yoda training Luke and Luke training Rey, but apart from Johnson following the same structural format, there wasn't enough to connect the two films to call it a carbon copy. However, it turns out that Johnson may have felt the Force of Empire when crafting Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico and her rebellious streak.
IGN reporter Scott Collura found a particular passage in Alan Arno's 1980 book Once Upon a Galaxy: The Making of The Empire Strikes Back. In an interview with director Irvin Kershner, he mirror's Rose's words from The Last Jedi, emphasizing that the difference between the Rebels and the Empire is that the side of good will fight for love:
Remember what Rose said in @rianjohnson’s The Last Jedi about winning the war not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love? Here’s director Irvin Kershner while filming Empire Strikes Back... pic.twitter.com/INTFj3JI4z— Scott Collura (@ScottCollura) February 28, 2018
Flashforward 37 years and the Resistance and First Order are on a similar track as Rose tells Finn why he must carry on their fight. Also, notice that the last sentence bears a striking resemblance to the exact words that Rose used in her stirring speech to Finn toward the end of the movie:
"We're going to win this war not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love."
It turns out that Collura wasn't the only one who noticed the similarities between the commentary, and Johnson himself tweeted back to confirm that he had been given a copy before filming began.
A friend gave me that book when we were in production, it’s amaaaaazing— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) February 28, 2018
Although he stops short of confirming that the passage was an influence for Rose's lines from The Last Jedi, it looks pretty likely.
Even though Johnson would've finished the script by the time he was given Once Upon a Galaxy, he could've easily altered Rose's line or even added it in as a subtle nod to Kershner's legacy. Johnson has made no bones about pulling parallels between the two movies, citing the second in a trilogy as an important part of any franchise. He has already compared Rey's parents reveal (or lack of) to the Darth Vader twist, so we know that the shadow of The Empire Strikes Back looms over The Last Jedi in some form.
Either way, there is no denying that Rose's line is a powerful representation of what differentiated the Resistance and the First Order, and to a degree, the light and dark side of the Force. It is hard not to see the similarity between Kershner and Johnson's directorial style if they both thought the same thing. As The Last Jedi heads toward its home release, the various deleted scenes and DVD commentary will give fans a whole new galaxy of titbits and spoilers to paw over. Who knows, maybe Johnson will confirm the Empire link when The Last Jedi makes it into our living rooms on March 27, but for now, it could just be a clever coincidence.
Source: Scott Collura
- 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