Lucasfilm explains how they made their version of the infamous Leia hologram sound worn out in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The Star Wars franchise has always been about nostalgia, even during the Original Trilogy. Using themes of the past and heritage while draped in references to Westerns and samurai films, the lived-in world George Lucas created felt instantly relatable to any fan of heroic storytelling. Naturally, the movies Lucasfilm have made since then have trafficked in reliving the past even while movie in new directions. From the various cameos in the prequels to the plot of Rogue One, days gone by are never far away.
While Star Wars: The Last Jedi, like The Force Awakens before it, plays with similar themes and nods to previous films, it’s also built around the idea of killing the past. Despite a prequel-like casino scene and homages to The Empire Strikes Back, Rian Johnson’s movie very bluntly deals with letting the past die. In fact, this seems to be the point that divides those who loved and hated the film. But despite all the time spent upending tradition, The Last Jedi isn’t above direct references to what’s come before.
One of the most obvious callbacks in Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes when R2-D2 uses the iconic hologram of Princess Leia to persuade Luke to help Rey. But for a film made 40 years after the original, some updates were required. Then, Lucasfilm needed to degrade the results to make the recording line up with the previous version. And when it came to crafting the sound, supervising sound editor Matthew Wood told THR how the team pulled it off:
“Then, rather than doing a digital process on it, we recorded it to an analog piece of tape — people might not know what that is anymore — but we recorded it on that piece of tape a bunch of times then dragged it through the dirt at Skywalker Ranch. We crumpled it, crushed it, threw it in a lake, rubbed rocks on it, distressed it and tied it to a car and drove it around.”
It’s not clear if Wood is being hyperbolic, as it seems some of the stated actions would have destroyed the magnetic tape rather than merely make it sound grittier. Still, it’s interesting to note analog recording methods were used. One of the issues with the prequels was how slick they looked compared to the original films. To get back to basics, the newer movies have been shot on film to replicate the visual warmth first films.
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi home video release right around the corner, we’ve been learning more and more about how the film came together. We recently saw a VFX breakdown for The Last Jedi that detailed how the bombing run and hangar scenes were made. More featurettes will also be included on the Blu-ray and digital release, along with 14 deleted scenes from Episode VIII. So for those who enjoyed the film, there’s still plenty to discover.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi will release digitally on March 13 and physically on March 27.
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