I Used The Force on Rian Johnson

It affirmed my reaction to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. *Spoiler-free thoughts*

To be clear, these thoughts aren’t based on an interview. Just personal insight and humour. So, trust me.

You learn a lot when you’re in someone’s head. Enough to have a deep understanding of a Writer/Director’s choices on a big, new, highly anticipated movie that’s part of one of the most beloved franchises in history. You also sleep better at night. And don’t spend too much time arguing with fans online.

Like the movie (and all of its predecessors) presents, some choose the light; some choose the dark. But it’s more than just perspective or opinion that divides fans on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It comes down to awareness. A willingness to be aware, if you will. Being aware of all the things in the movie that work towards its theme.

The franchise has shown us that the wars that take place in the stars are timeless. They are wars between two very contrasting sides of course. In The Last Jedi, the back-and-forth may be more apparent than ever because of pacing, plot and overall story. That’s a good thing. Because all elements in this Star Wars film are working to express the struggle of war. Pretty neatly. Nothing groundbreaking, but it does deserve a Yoda head nod.

In embracing the franchise, Johnson and his team create an incredible series of events strung together by strong character motives and character arcs. The story focuses on snuffing out hope, from scene to scene, only to spark it once and for all at the end. It’s a great example of what makes Star Wars what it is.‬ It’s a timeless tug of war between the dark and the light. And the movie doesn’t want anyone to forget that.

What’s refreshing is that The Last Jedi has a new generation of characters already in motion. They’re deeper and more conflicted than the original characters. Because of that, characters from the original movies operate in bolder ways, with stronger motives. It’s great to see the growth. After all, it’s a war they’re in.

In deeply exploring the characters, both new and old, it’s clearer why certain motives move the plot in certain ways to create growth. It’s also clearer how “the last Jedi” in the movie’s title can be seen as the last soldier, or last war hero. With that in mind, the movie expresses that the end of the war between the dark and the light is imminent. But then again, it also says that it’s eternal.

No big deal.

The Force will always be trying to balance itself out, there will always be Star Wars movies—these aren’t truths that discredit The Last Jedi or the franchise. They create an opportunity. The most significant opportunity is that for the first time—after a whopping seven science fiction movies—The Force is expressed in completely new ways.

Don’t forget it. Take note.

Rian Johnson’s exercise in sound design and film editing AND character growth express The Force as something more than a tool for moving objects or sensing great disturbances. This gets a pretty big Yoda head nod. Like, a real, slow, long lasting, Yoda head nod.

Moving forward in the franchise, The Last Jedi creatively expresses a lot. When you think about it. When you feel it out. There’s the struggle between dark and light, the lack of hope, the spark of hope, and the exploration of what The Force actually means for characters (and how it’s experienced cinematically by the audience). That’s a lot of development for Star Wars as a whole, which is easy to appreciate, if we are willing to understand the positive impact it has on future movies under the same banner.

This movie truly feels like a new Star Wars movie because it sets up further exploration for the next movie. It’s a generation shift. A noble passing of the torch. The Last Jedi really is pretty wise, in a Hollywood movie sorta way.

It teaches us how to find deeper meaning in a franchise that has been all around us for most of our lives: focus on what we love, instead of battling what we hate.

I can do that. Can you?

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