Writer/director Rian Johnson has revealed what films influenced his directorial decisions on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, with only days to go until fans of the Lucasverse head back to that galaxy far, far away.
Between his work on Looper and Johnson being confirmed to oversee a “new” Star Wars trilogy ahead of The Last Jedi‘s theatrical release, it seems that big-budget sci-fi movies run in the filmmaker’s blood. However, while you might think that he went back to watch intergalactic creature features and space-age thrillers for his The Last Jedi research, you may be surprised to learn what Johnson’s muse actually was for the upcoming Episode VIII.
Speaking exclusively to Screen Rant, Johnson spoke about some the classic movies that inspired him:
“I picked a bunch of films and Twelve O’Clock High, which is one of the Great World War II movies with Gregory Peck. There’s some direct inspiration from that in the film, but also we watch some samurai films. We watch some, you know, Bridge On The River Kwai. We watched Gunga Din. We watch a bunch of, kind of adventure films.”
With Twelve O’Clock High and The Bridge on the River Kwai both finding a place in the United States National Film Registry, there are certainly worse films to use as the basis for The Last Jedi. Interestingly, all of the films that Johnson mentioned have included a tight-knit group of moral characters versus a shadowy opposition, and all follow well-rounded heroes and villains with an ensemble cast. That certainly sounds like the Rey, Finn, Kylo, and Luke story that we have come to expect from The Last Jedi.
As for Samurai movies, everything from The Magnificent Seven to Inglourious Basterds has found its influence in Japanese culture, so why would The Last Jedi be any different? Heading back to the years before A New Hope, one of the early Star Wars synopsis pitched it as an outer-space drama based on the Samurai films of Akira Kurosawa. So, it only makes sense that Johnson would go back to the routes of the franchise.
Speaking about the eclectic mix of genres, Johnson also reminds fans that when Star Wars first hit theaters in 1977, it was something that had never been done before:
“The original Star Wars it’s so ubiquitous now. It’s easy to forget how weird the original one was and what a weird genre mash-up it was. Western inside and sci-fi, there’s soap opera, and so, it makes sense to draw from a bunch of different seemingly disparate you know sources of inspiration for it.”
However, it seems that war will very much be at the center of the next installment. Given that The Last Jedi will focus on the mounting war between the Resistance and the First Order, you can see why Johnson would focus his efforts on sprawling war epics.
We probably shouldn’t expect Rey to whip out a katana to take on Kylo Ren, but it is certain that the two sides will come to blows in The Last Jedi. The various trailers and promo material have already teased various battles both in space and on the ground, so expect all the casualties and melodrama of any other war film alongside a healthy dose of that Star Wars magic.
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