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Star Wars: The Last Jedi- Brings more to an end than what the title suggests

Caution: Spoilers

Walt Disney Studios

Walt Disney Studios

Avery Doan

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I saw this movie two times; once before Christmas and once after the New Year.  2018 has been off to a slow start, so even though it feels like it’s been forever, I have to remember that I did see this movie a month ago.  The film’s legacy on the Star Wars franchise, however, will linger in the memories of fans for much longer than a month.

This installment of the franchise picks up right where the previous episode left off and takes place over a time period of only a few days.  The new film follows a battle between the First Order in the resistance.  Meanwhile, Rey attempts to develop her force abilities and tries to convince Luke Skywalker to come out of exile and help the resistance win the war.  By doing so many things that are distinctly notlike Star Wars, the movie distinguishes itself as memorable and unique.

In the new trilogy, Rey is the main character, as the story follows her, for the most part.  This particular story, however, is not about Rey, Finn, Poe, or even Kylo Ren.  This story is, at the end of the day, about Luke Skywalker.  No other character is developed or otherwise changed throughout the movie, and no other character ends up playing such a vital role in the plot.  Before his appearance in the new films, the Luke Skywalker that fans knew and loved was an infallible hero.  We later learn that he made a grave mistake that ended up costing his students their lives and led to the creation of Kylo Ren.  Luke Skywalker, the legendary hero of a billion dollar franchise and savior of the galaxy, messed up really badly.  Fans who disliked the film say that what he did was out-of-character, but this terrible mistake that he made makes him a more relatable character.  When Rey finds him, he wants to stay in exile and refuses to train her because he believes the Jedi should no longer exist.  At the end of the movie, he ends up saving the day via force ghost and uses the very last of his strength, but I don’t think that’s the point of his development as a character in this story.  I think the point is that the character that fans were so sure they knew, can still mess up.  No one in real life or in movies can be a perfect hero.

Walt Disney Studios
Mark Hamill reprises his role as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The treatment of Luke’s original lightsaber is a symbol for the new movie’s relationship with the old trilogies.  In the opening of the film, upon receiving his lightsaber from Rey, Luke sets his jaw and unceremoniously hurls the weapon over his shoulder and into the sea.  This, I believe, is a symbol of the past, the old Star Wars we used to know.  This is the first time we can tell that this movie is going to be nothing like any of the other installments.  Luke tosses the legacy of the old movies far away from the new film, leaving room for a new story, unlike anything we had ever seen before.

Star Wars has one of the most well-done scores in the history of cinema.  That’s why it was so surprising when, at one of the most climatic and visually stunning points in the film, all of the music, sound effects, and dialogue were completely silenced for what was a few seconds, but felt like an eternity.  The intentionality of this moment is rooted deeply in the director’s intentions for this film, and might even have more rationale and layers to it that I have no clue about.  This brief silence is stunning.  Like many other aspects of the film, it is so not like Star Wars.  Amidst a loud battle scene, the sudden total silence is jarring, and creates a sharp contrast that causes the audience to pay closer attention to the beautiful visuals on the screen.  This scene took my breath away, and when I discussed it with other people after, it was one of the most talked-about scenes in the whole movie, which I believe was the intention.

Long story short, I loved this movie.  I consider myself a mid-level Star Wars fan.  I can’t say that I have been a fan since the first movie came out (because I didn’t exist yet), but I’ve been a fan of the franchise ever since I was first introduced into it.  Out of all 7 films (plus Rogue One), this one is my favorite.  At every turn, I felt like I had the plot figured out because I had a good sense of the formula that Star Wars movies use.  To put it simply, the plot continued to punch me in the gut with surprising twists at every turn.  I thought Rey was going to be the descendant of a significant force user we already knew, because force abilities can be passed from generation to generation.  Then we learn, rather anti-climatically, that Rey is the daughter of nobodies.  Totally unexpected.  I thought that after Kylo Ren killed Snoke, he would officially be back on the light side and would help destroy the First Order Side by side with Rey.  That didn’t happen.  I didn’t see any of the film’s major plot point coming, which is maybe why I enjoyed it so much.  Even my second time seeing it, I loved the film’s self-awareness of the expectations it was supposed to fill, and it’s adamant refusal to be simply ordinary.  The film teaches us that even heroes make mistakes, and in order to move forward in a new direction, we must free ourselves from the burdens and expectations of the past.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi- Brings more to an end than what the title suggests