An Obsessive Breakdown of the First 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Trailer
Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Immediately after director Rian Johnson (Looper) unveiled the subtitle for Episode VIII, there was speculation over the meaning of the mysterious three words. Now the movie's first trailer, unveiled at Star Wars Celebration, the Star Wars fan convention to end all fan conventions, demands even more speculation and scrutiny. Who (or what?) is "The Last Jedi"?
Unlike J.J. Abrams' whiz-bang The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi's trailer demonstrates a slower, more mythological dip into the franchise. The muted colors of cliff planet Ahch-To, the slow-motion shots of Rey using the Force as Luke feeds her instructions, books, trees, flashbacks, AT-ATs – it's a feast for the eyes. It's also a lot to take in. So I'm breaking it down, moment by moment, to catch what you might have missed.
Cued to slow, John Williams-orchestrated chimes, the trailer opens with a breathless Rey crashing and panting on to the rocky floor of Ahch-To, the planet where she found Luke at the end of The Force Awakens. The moment recalls that film's first teaser, when John Boyega's Finn popped onto screen on the desert planet Jakku. What was Rey up to right before the trailer starts? Meditating? Running? Experiencing a flashback? It's hard to say, but as the following voiceover hints, she seems to be deep in some kind of training with Luke.
Right out the gate, we're treated to a neat little musical Easter egg. It's a lacing of Williams' "The Force Theme" with "Rey's Theme," which populated much of The Force Awakens' score. That intermingling of famous tunes continues through the first part of the trailer, as we see aerial images of Ahch-To and a gorgeous shot of Rey looking out at crashing waves, seemingly lost in thought. It makes sense that the musical cues most commonly associated with Luke and Rey are accenting their training sessions.
Here, Luke utters, "Reach out..." We already know Rey is strong in the Force. It appears she's growing stronger, as she's apparently able to float pebbles with her mind. We can't say for sure, but this looks to also be on Ahch-To – the rocky landscape matches.
Our first proper look at General Leia Organa, with a regal new hairdo, grey cape, at what appears to be a new Resistance base. Johnson said in the panel that accompanied the trailer that the Resistance is scrambling after being almost totally wiped out at the end of The Force Awakens. Is Leia plotting something? Or, as the map implies, looking for something? Or... someone? In the background, we hear a Leia line-reading from the original 1977 Star Wars read in whisper: "Help me, Obi-Wan."
This shots appears to be Kylo Ren's helmet in shattered pieces, surrounded by glass. It's interesting that it even survived the destruction of Starkiller Base at all. Fans will remember that Kylo famously took off his mask before confronting and killing his father, Han Solo. He then proceeded to the snowy wood to fight Finn and Rey, sans helmet. Considering the only shots we've seen of Kylo so far from this movie – later in the trailer, and in an image from the Celebration panel – show him without a mask. The Knight of Ren might be done pretending to be like his grandfather, Darth Vader, and ready to show the galaxy who he is at face value.
Also worth noting, in the faint background of this moment, you hear a voiceover of what sounds like Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars saying, "he was seduced by the dark side."
This is the most intriguing shot of the whole trailer. A glimmer of light shines on a shelf of what looks like books in a giant tree. Rumors of a "Force tree" popped up during The Last Jedi's production, and there looks to be some validity to that now. But what are the books?
Could this be the Journals of the Whills? The first mention of the Journal of the Whills, a mythical text that references the Jedi and discusses the light and dark sides, goes all the way back to George Lucas' earliest Star Wars script. Though abandoned back then, mention of the Journal has popped up in the new Star Wars canon, most notably in the novelization for The Force Awakens, which opens with a quotation from it. If Luke traveled back to the site of the original Jedi Temple, it makes sense that he would also have a collection of ancient Jedi text. But how does this tie into the story? Considering much of the trailer's voiceover discusses the balance of the light and dark sides, it's possible The Last Jedi will deal with the erasure of Jedi and Sith and the focus on a more neutral Force.
Rey appears to still have Anakin's lightsaber, which she retrieved from Maz Kanata's castle and attempted to return to Luke in The Force Awakens. Now, it looks like Luke is training her with that same lightsaber -- the blue color gives it away. But the question remains: Will Rey build her own lightsaber in The Last Jedi, as Luke did before Return of the Jedi? As the old movies indicated, it's a right of passage for "true" Jedi.
Johnson has confirmed that this salt-flat planet is called Crait. Look closely in the distance and you can see what appears to be AT-AT walkers, or a similar variation. But what are the ships we see racing towards them? They vaguely resemble the pod racers seen in The Phantom Menace, but a closer inspection reveals a possible variation of the B-wing starfighters first seen in Return of the Jedi. It's hard to tell, but it also looks like either the fleet ships are emitting some kind of red gas or there are spikes at the bottom and the planet is covered in red sand.
Our first look at Finn in The Last Jedi. We know from the panel that Finn wakes up at some point, but here he appears to be in recovery mode after the wounds he sustained from Kylo in The Force Awakens. No telling what kind of medical pod he's in. It appears to be a new piece of technology.
Johnson said in The Last Jedi panel that the First Order was striking back hard after the loss of Starkiller Base. Are Poe and BB-8 running from an attack in this brief shot?
That looks to be the case, as the next moment shows an explosion in the Resistance base and Poe ducking for cover. (You can also see what looks to be A-wings in the bunker.)
It's our old friend the Millennium Falcon, last seen on Ahch-To at the end of The Force Awakens. But who's behind the wheel? Rey could be piloting it again, now that Han has died. Or perhaps it's Chewbacca, who we know will appear in the film. Those are TIE fighter chasing it, which means some kind of conflict with the First Order.
Perhaps Kylo tracked Rey and Luke on Ahch-To and now they're escaping. The next shots of Rey running and Kylo pointing his lightsaber point to some kind of chase.
Here's our first live-action look at Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi. This can't be a flashback, since his face is scarred from his duel with Rey. He also appears to have his trademark crossguard lightsaber. He may have shed his mask, but he's still got affection for some of his playthings.
This shot does, however, appear to be a flashback. It's safe to assume this is Luke's Jedi academy burning. It mimics the shot Rey saw in her "Force-back" of Luke, where he kneeled alongside R2-D2 and what appeared to be burning wreckage. (Also, hi R2-D2!). Will Rey experience more flashbacks in The Last Jedi, or is this Luke's?
Curiously, this next shot also shows Captain Phasma in fiery rubble. It's probably just clever cutting of two different scenes, but this might also hint that Phasma was there for the destruction of Luke's academy by the Knights of Ren.
Like the B-Wings on the salt-plane planet, the flashes of flat red ships in this moment appear to be more A-Wing interceptors. We also see a smattering of other ships, including a new type, the Mark One Starhawk, which first appeared in Chuck Wendig's Aftermath tie-in novels, as well as the First Order TIE fighters.
"It's time for the Jedi to end"
This comment from Luke, coupled with a shot of his silhouette on Ahch-To, ties together the previous voiceover. All together, here is the core dialogue we hear in the trailer:
Luke: Breathe. Just breathe. Now, reach out. What do you see?
Rey: Light. Darkness. The balance.
Luke: It's so much bigger. I only know one truth. It's time for the Jedi to end.
It sounds like the events that led to the destruction of his academy have soured Luke on the sacredness of the Jedi order. Like his father, he eschewed the values Yoda tried to instill and forged his own path. Now, after studying the history of the Jedi order, he seems even more disenchanted. Is he training Rey to be a Jedi, or is he teaching her a more balanced, less extreme version of the Force?
We'll know in eight months. The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15.
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