It's official, there's ANOTHER series of Star Wars films on the way. As if Rian Johnson's trilogy wasn't enough, the dudes that make Game of Thrones have been given the nod by Kathy Kennedy to take part in the far away galaxy.
Here's the official word from Lucasfilm:
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are going from Winterfell to a galaxy far, far away.
It was announced today that Benioff and Weiss, creators of the smash-hit, Emmy Award-winning television series Game of Thrones, will write and produce a new series of Star Wars films.
These new films will be separate from both the episodic Skywalker saga and the recently-announced trilogy being developed by Rian Johnson, writer-director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
“David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting.”
“In the summer of 1977 we traveled to a galaxy far, far away, and we’ve been dreaming of it ever since,” Benioff and Weiss said in a joint statement. “We are honored by the opportunity, a little terrified by the responsibility, and so excited to get started as soon as the final season of Game of Thrones is complete.”
No release dates have been set for the new films, and there have (thankfully) been no sightings of White Walkers around Lucasfilm.
The movie tells story of a general and a princess, fighting their way home through enemy lines in feudal Japan with the help of a pair of bumbling peasants.
Does that sound similar?
What if you replaced the pair of peasants with the bumbling R2D2 and C3PO?
A General who fought in the Clone Wars?
That's right, young George Lucas took the two bickering peasants and traded them them in for C3PO and R2D2 - it was his intention that his Star Wars story be told from their perspective. And it many ways it is, the start of the story features them setting everything off in motion.
George Lucas explained in an interview how he gained his inspiration: “I remember the one thing that really struck me about The Hidden Fortress,” he said, “the one thing I was really intrigued by, was the fact that the story was told from the two lowest characters. I decided that would be a nice way to tell the Star Wars story.
Take the two lowliest characters, as Kurosawa did, and tell the story from their point of view. Which, in the Star Wars case is the two droids, and that was the strongest influence."
At so it began that George Lucas would make reference and homage to one of Japan's greatest film makers, Akiro Kurosawa.
You know how in The Phantom Menace, Padme fakes out everybody by pretending to be a servant of the Queen? That's a direct plot point taken from Hidden Fortress.
Akira's Yojimbo film also served as inspiration for the famous Cantina scene.
Yojimbo featured a bar scene where a group of men threaten the film's hero and brag how they are wanted by 'the authorities' and then suddenly swords are drawn and an arm is left lying on the floor of the bar.
It's almost a play by play account of what happens to Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan before they are introduced to Han Solo by Chewbaca!
Did we mention the famous scene ending 'swipes'? Another idea totally taken from Kurosawa.
Have you ever heard of the film, The Magnificent Seven? It is one of the great Westerns films in cinema history.
But guess what?
The John Sturges directed film was actually a remake of Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai, which at the time, was the biggest box office grossing film in Japan.
Lucas said of the original: "I think Seven Samurai influenced me a lot more [than Hidden Fortress], in terms of understanding how cinema works and how to tell a very exciting story and still have it be very funny and very human.'
Which is a long way of saying that in Revenge of the Sith, Lucas deftly slipped in a visual reference The Seven Samurai film. In the below image, as Yoda brings his hand to his head, this is directly referencing Akira's movies.
But that's just a subtle nod. The Phantom Menace had a great and direct nod to the Seven Samurai:
As Star Wars Analysis Expert Mike Klimo points out - this iconic shot above of the attacking army on Naboo coming over the hill is a direct lift.
Here's a couple of other moments that inspired Lucas:
The Han Solo hiding-under-the-floor trick is a lift from Yojimbo's sequel, Sanjuro.
The Empire Strikes Back features a lot of the plot and imagery from come from the Oscar winning Dersu Uzala.
And what of The Last Jedi?
When Lucas handed over his franchise to Disney, no one would have ever guessed that Rian Johnson would deliver a script for The Last Jedi that would also make deliberate nods to the Kurosawa films - this should have actually surprised no one for Johnson had made it clear he understood the rhyming rings of Star Wars.
In referencing Kurosawa, Rian also honours the spirit of George Lucas original movie making adventure.
Let's talk about what people are calling 'The Rashomon Sequence' In a crucial flashback moment in the film, we learn that Luke had intended to kill Kylo Ren but at the last second decided not to.
We later learn in another flashback why Kylo Ren destroyed Luke's Jedi Training Academy - he believed Luke had arrived to kill him and was about to do so - so he struck first (just like his father Han Solo when he shot first!)
The two differing views are important because they each affect Rey's understanding of her relationships with Luke and Kylo and of course explain the path that Luke and Kylo set themselves on.
This story telling technique of utilising differing perspectives was first used as device by Kurosawa in his film Rashomon. The film was the tale of a murder that described in four mutually contradictory ways by its four witnesses.
Rashomon had a large success in America and the 'Rashomon Technique' has been copied by many a director ever since - Edward Zwick's, Courage Under Fire is a pretty good modern day example.
“The three flashbacks were a late addition – one of the last things that went into the script before we started shooting. It’s similar to Rashomon, but the actual story motivation was that I wanted some harder kick to Rey’s turn: ‘You didn’t tell me this.’ I wanted some harder line that was crossed – a more defined thing that we could actually see – between Luke and Kylo. I didn’t want to do a big flashback. So one flashback that you repeat three times but that’s just one moment seemed more right. Ultimately, the only one who lies is Luke, in the very first flashback, where he omits the fact that he had a lightsaber in his hand. Kylo is basically telling the truth about his perception of the moment.”
In this context, it’s probably not a coincidence that The Last Jedi shows one of its most pivotal scenes, the encounter between Luke and Kylo Ren that drove Kylo Ren to the dark side, at least three different times, from competing perspectives, before resolving them, just as Kurosawa does in Rashomon.
From my point of view the Jedi are evil, indeed....
Rian Johnson, in the tradition of Lucas, was perhaps inspired by how Kurosawa used red in Ran and Kagemusha (see above) iamge.
Indeed, when the Resistance's old hunks of junk line up to take on Kylo's Gorilla AT-ATs, they stir up the red, similar effect to the charging red colored soldiers in 'Ran'.
This color use also perhaps further extends to the lightsaber duel Rey and Ren have with Supreme Leader Snoke’s Prateoran guards in the blood-red chambers echoes Kurosawa's Academy Award nominated 1980 film, Kagemusha.
Rian has also publically spoken of how a viewing of Three Outlaw Samurai by Hideo Gosha influenced the character of Benicio Del Toro's DJ:
“This was kind of in lieu of rewatching Kurosawa, because I’m a big Kurosawa fan and I’ve seen his movies lots and lots of times. So I felt we were all familiar enough with Kurosawa, I thought let’s dig into some stuff that maybe we haven’t seen in the samurai genre.
This is that era where they were trying stylistic things that were a little funky or a little more out there. And just style-wise, it’s got something that was going to push it out beyond what we maybe expected from a samurai film. The direction of that movie is incredible. But then, also, there’s the kind of unexpected camaraderie, this uneasy alliance with these samurai. There’s the whole issue of class in it in its own way, which plays out.
And this is something that does pop up in Kurosawa films, but there is the flea-bitten samurai who they find in jail and is kind grubby and waking up, ‘Oh, God, really? Do I have to?’ And he is actually the one who ends up having incredible skills. That was kind of the most direct lift from that movie.”
It's been confirmed by John Boyega that the Princes William and Harry visited the set and had a turn as Stormtroopers. They were cut though!
Gary Barlow, songwriter from Take That donned the white and black, as did Bane himself, Tom Hardy but both only made the cutting room floor.
Rogue One's director Gareth Edwards has a small cameo as one of the Rebels fighting in the trench on Crait. He has R1 written on his tunic.
Adrian "Ade" Edmondson, of Bottom, Young Ones fame, has an extended cameo as a First Order Officer.
Joseph Gordon Levitt does the voice of the alien that turns in Finn and Rose at the Canto Bight Casino. Levitt has appeared in several films directed by Rian Johnson so no surprise there. The character was called Slowen Lo.
Justin Theroux plays the Master Code Breaker that Finn and Poe are sent by Maz Kanata to meet.
Star Wars veteran Warwick Davis plays Wodibin - his 9th appearance in Star Wars. He actually filmed a second part though this did not make the final cut. The picture above is of him as Kedpin Shoklop from a bath room scene at Canto Bight that was cut.
Noah Segan, who has been in every Rian Johnson film, has a small spot as an X-Wing pilot.
Mark Hamill also does the voice work for the chap that inserts the coins into BB-8 at the Canto Bight Casino.
Director Edgar Wright and writer Joe Cornish took a turn as the Resistance:
When Luke Skywalker appears on Crait, many viewers were surprised as he had decided to stay on Achto Island and he had no way off the planet as his ride in the form of the Falcon had taken off and his X-Wing was under several feet of water and had been for years.
So many viewers would have asked how was he there?
The key answer was immediately obvious (though many viewers did not understand they were not seeing the real Luke) - and that was his beard and hair were suddenly brown when a matter of hours ago, he was quite the silver fox!
There was no way this was the real Luke but for those that didn't get the ruse straight away, director and script writer Rian Johnson added several other clues to help the viewer work this out before the big reveal by Luke.
Here they are:
Luke's feet do not leave a foot print on the salt but Kylo's do.
Luke's feet movement makes no sound.
No ash or dust settles on his person. And when he brushes some off his shoulder, there's actually nothing there.
No ash or dust settles on his saber BUT it does on Kylo Ren's.
Leia appears to understand what is happening when Luke places his hand on hers. This is a very subtle one.
Luke's saber is the same as the one that Rey and Kylo just Force broke on Snoke's ship. This however might not actually be a clue for Kylo but it is for the viewer. Why not a clue for Kylo? Rian Johnson has pointed out that "the truth is, we see the lightsaber split in half -- Kylo sees a blinding flash of light and is knocked unconscious, and then Rey takes the lightsaber away before he wakes up."
Luke is younger looking with a brown beard - the same look as when he and Kylo last met.
There blades never actually touch. If Luke had of allowed this to happen, his ruse would be up.
And finally, how did Luke get into the cave? There was no entrance for him, other than the closed front door.
The real question should be way did Kylo not see these signs and figure out Luke's trick for himself?
He was blinded by his fury and anger.
Even though he told Rey to 'let go of the past', he also told her to kill it if she had to. So, given Luke was the (dis)embodiment of Kylo past, he had to kill him and Luke's deliberate appearance played into that.
A summary post where we cover what were 5 great things about The Last Jedi and wee gripe at the end about some plot points...
How Poe Dameron's "I know" changed Rey's character forever in The Last Jedi
When Poe told Rey, he already knew her with the classic "I know" line, he thus framed her as being someone, rather than the nobody that Kylo Ren tried to define her by. In do so, he gave her back her identify.
Rian Johnson asked JJ Abrams for a Force Awakens script change to allow R2D2 to accompany Rey to Ach-to Island instead of BB8. This was so R2 could feature more and also echo the fact that he was on Degobah with Luke during his training with Yoda, much the same as Rey does with Luke.
There where many subtle moments that Rain added to his script
Subtly, both in terms of detail and theme, had a big effect of what many viewers actually take from the movie. Here's some key quiet little moments, some with fair consequence:
The Falthier boy jockey at the end used the Force to pick up the broom... he was the result of the Spark after all.
Rey stole the Jedi books and hid them in the Millennium Falcon. You can see them in the draw in the end of the movie
As the Force Tree burns, its flames appear to make the Rebel Alliance symbol. This could be interpreted as the Jedi movement and the Rebels rising 'from the ashes'
When Luke is projecting himself to Crait from the Island there are two clues for the viewer to understand this is happening. The first is his beard is brown and he appears younger - this is the same look as when he last saw Kylo Ren at the 'Jedi Academy' flashback. The second clue is while Kylo's feet where disturbing the red salt during the confrontation, when Luke walked over the same ground, no red salt was disturbed.
Luke Skywalker's mechanical hand features a damaged area where his hand was shot by a laser blast during the rescue of Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. It's symbolic of the legacy of issues Luke has been carrying around with him.
Luke was tricked by Yoda in The Last Jedi and it was great
We first meet Yoda again as he watches Luke walk the up the Island steps with the intention of burning the Force tree and the Jedi 'bibles'. Luke changes his mind so Yoda (as a Force ghost!) zapps some lightning down and does the job himself.
While Luke tried to rescue the books that had been safely looked after on the Island since the Jedi began, Yoda intoned gravely:
“Wisdom they held, but that library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess.”
It was a line designed to say to Luke, at face value, that the books no longer mattered with the implication being that the time of Jedi was over.
And Luke appeared to accept that. Well, he had no choice as the tree exploded.
But cut to the last scene on the Millennium Falcon after our heroes are rescued by Chewbacca and Rey. As Finn opens the drawer to get a blanket for Rose, what was in there?
Yes, the Jedi books.
Rey had ALREADY stolen them from Luke before he wanted to burn the tree down. Nice trick Yoda!
Snoke shared the same over confidence problem as Palpatine
Why has no one ever driven a hyperspace device into any ships before like Admiral Holdo?
Why was Rose so stupid in letting Finn live which meant certain death for the others? Shurrrre, she fell in love with him with but it all felt wrong and entirely selfish, despite her claim about saving those we love as the reason.
Why did General Hux not send Star Destroyers AHEAD of the Rebel Fleet to flank them? They could have easily zipped into hyperspace with a strong gist of where they would be.
Why did Luke want to kill Kylo back when Luke was training him? It's simply out of character for ROTJ Luke. Have a damn chat about it first with his mother at least?
What was Luke's third lesson for Rey?
How can Kylo Ren stop laser blasts in mid air with the Force but struggle so much with Snoke's Praetorian Guards?
In Empire Strike's Back, Leia told Han she loved him and he replied, "I know". That line has become the stuff of legend, especially so when Leia got to say the quote back to Han in Return of the Jedi.
The Last Jedi script writer and director saw fit to re-use Harrison Ford's immortal line in a new context, being when Rey first met Poe Dameron.
Recall the plot events of The Force Awakens.
Rey never actually meets Poe Dameron face to face. In a quick turn around at the end of the movie, she flies off with Chewbacca and R2 to find Luke and bring him back to sort out that 'Snoke taking over the world' business. Finn and Poe get to continue their bromance but that's it.
So, in the last spoken scene of The Last Jedi, Poe and Rey finally meet after what has been a long week or three for each other.
Rey has just rescued Poe and the remaining Resistance Rebels from the cave on Crait and they are now safely on the Millennium Falcon. Did you know the First Order really hate that ship?
Here's the conversation:
Poe: Hi, I'm Poe. Rey: I'm Rey. Poe: I know.
I have to admit, on first viewing of TLJ, I did not pick up on the call back to the classic Han Solo line.
It's a nice moment, but what does it really mean?
Prior to this conversation, the events of the movie have settled that anybody can become legend. Luke saw his fate or destiny and accepted it and became one.
Rey on the other other hand is bluntly told by Kylo Ren that her parents were drunks who sold her and she indeed admitted that her parents were 'nobody'.
So who is Rey then?
When Poe acknowledges that he already knows who she is, he is saying she is not nobody, she is Rey.
Despite its massive commercial and critical success, the Han 'Solo' movie will always be the Star Wars movie where the directors got fired and Ron Howard came in and saved the day.
Given that drama and the need to rework the movie, there's plenty of trivia about the making of the movie to satisfy even the most keenest of Star Wars fact fans...
Alden Ehrenreich was the first actor to audition for directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. They saw many other actors but Alden made a lasting impression.
Solo's script was written by veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon, making it the fourth Star Wars film that Kasdan has a writing credit on.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired by Kathleen Kennedy, the head of Lucasfilm, only three weeks away from finishing principal photography on June 2017. They are in good company as Kennedy also removed Colin Trevorrow from the Star Wars IV project. Instead JJ Abrams is back for a second turn at directing to finish the story he started.
Miller and Lord's removal paved the way for Ron Howard to finish the film and even reshoot many scenes. This means that this is the first Star Wars film to have ever been directed by an Academy Award winner for Directing. Howard won the golden gong for A Beautiful Mind. George Lucas was nominated for the award with A New Hope, which means he was the first Oscar nominated director of Star Wars when he directed The Phantom Menace.
John Howell composed the film score. He's an experienced composer and has an Academy Award nomination for his How to Train Your Dragon score. This means Howell is only the third composer on a Star Wars film after John Williams and Michael Giacchino (Rogue One).
Woody Harrelson was picked over Christian Bale as Solo's mentor, Beckett. Solo is the second time he has been in a Ron Howard directed film. The first was EdTV.
While some fans have guessed that Solo, is presumeably the movie that Josh Trank had been hired to direct until he was removed from the job due to rumoured poor on and off set performance during the ill fated Fantastic Four reboot, this is not the case. Trank's film was likely a Boba Fett story - either way Kathleen Kennedy has confirmed they changed the order of the Anthology films, confirming that Trank was not directing the Solo movie.
Michael Kenneth Williams was originally cast in the film and shot scenes, but amid the reshoots he was unable to return to the set and his role as a CGI character was removed. Instead Paul Bettany was brought in by Howard and the role was filmed in person. Bettany had a major role in Howard's A Beautiful Mind so they already had the connection. Bettany is also quite popular at this time due to his role as Jarvis and Vision in the Avenger movies.
This is Joonas Suotamo's second full gig playing Chewbacca after his first turn in The Last Jedi. Suotomo played Chewbacca officially as a body double in The Force Awakens - it is speculated he did any parts where Chewbacca was walking, this was due to the ill health (bad knees) of the original Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew.