Tony Black on the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi…
At the very heart of the Star Wars Celebration event this weekend lies a gem we have all been waiting for – the first glimpse of The Last Jedi, which continues the main, episodic Skywalker family saga which now characterises the core of the expanded Star Wars universe. Directed this time by Rian Johnson, emerging from the indie science-fiction filmmaking provinces into the mainstream, The Last Jedi picks up after the most anticipated movie of the 21st century thus far – The Force Awakens. No mean feat and the pressure will be on Johnson and everyone at Disney to deliver on the tricky middle film of the trilogy. Are we set for a disaster of Attack of the Clones proportions or a classic in the vein of The Empire Strikes Back? Perhaps the teaser trailer revealed this weekend can begin answering that question.
WHO IS THE LAST JEDI?
Much has been made of the title since its unveiling at the end of 2016 – is it solitary or plural when we talk about ‘Jedi’? Does the title refer to one specific person or multiple Jedi? We don’t know but the trailer certainly weighs toward the plural. The first person we see, arguably the heart of this new trilogy, could be the answer – Rey. The mysterious orphan abandoned on Jakku ended The Force Awakens, having discovered the Force is strong within her, on a pilgrimage to find who may appear to be the titular last Jedi – Luke Skywalker.
We can gleam from the trailer that certain Empire beats could be repeating – as Luke was trained on Dagobah, so Rey appears to be learning the secrets of the Force from Luke, aware of the coming battle against the darkness of the First Order and its shadowy paymasters. Yet as Rey undergoes her awakening, could she to be awakening a listless Luke? The one shadowy frame of him we see indicates Luke may believe originally he is the last Jedi and no hope exists for the Force in the galaxy. Is Rey the one to convince him otherwise? Could his journey be rediscovering his own faith as he helps awaken Rey’s? Does this track with the image of what appears to be Luke and R2 watching a Jedi temple burn to the ground?
THE FALL OF THE RESISTANCE?
Understandably the trailer focuses heavily on the mysticism at what one presumes is the Jedi heart of the story between Rey and Luke, but we are treated to a rush of images which suggest the conflict between the First Order and the Resistance is expanding and deepening into true galactic conflict, following the devastating destruction wrought by Starkiller Base at the end of The Force Awakens.
Poe Dameron is in the mix, with adorably loyal BB-8 at his side, while we briefly see rebel stormtrooper Finn still in stasis, seemingly in recovery after almost being killed by First Order leader Kylo Ren. One assumes he is being cared for by the Resistance, but for how long? We see General Leia from behind, in charge of her troops, but both in space and on land the war doesn’t seem to be one she is winning.
Even with the Millennium Falcon in support, the Resistance are in trouble from vast First Order forces. Kylo Ren appears to have truly given into the Dark Side and explosive scenes appear to depict the Resistance base being destroyed from the inside. The rumoured title for some time was the ominous Fall of the Resistance, so will The Last Jedi give us the darkest hour of our heroes thus far?
SIGNS AND SYMBOLS
Most tantalisingly, we are given hints of the deeper mythology Star Wars is constructing within its new cinematic universe. Rey clasps her hand on a clear, grey stone and later seems to be deconstructing its very base elements with the power of the Force – could this be part of a Jedi source of ancient power? A temple? A shot appears to show a bookshelf filled with light which could correspond to an ancient Jedi site, and Rey indeed talks about seeing ‘light’ amidst great darkness. Johnson’s film has long been theorised to potentially explore the mysticism of the Jedi going back long before the prequel trilogy so perhaps we may bear witness to all new truths and understanding of the Jedi and the Force itself through Rey and Luke’s journeys.
We also see another powerful symbol on a book, one which could well be a Jedi tome of an equally ancient source – possibly the Journal of the Whills from the Jedi Order. Beyond perhaps serious Star Wars scholars, the origin of this symbol remains debatable but presumably it corresponds to a major piece of knowledge or arcanum perhaps from the origins of the Jedi. All of these symbols suggest a strong connection to the history and deeper mysticism of the Force.
Broken perhaps in another fit of rage, we see Kylo’s smashed helmet, perhaps recalling the crushed Vader mask he considered almost holy in The Force Awakens. This suggests Vader’s spirit continues to permeate the new trilogy and given the spectre of Supreme Leader Snoke (though not present in this trailer), no doubt we could learn more about the history of the Dark Side as well as the Jedi, perhaps through Kylo’s continued battle with his own imbalance. In moving forward, The Last Jedi could be the Star Wars film that looks back further than we’ve ever seen before.
All we know for certain is Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is *the* most anticipated picture of 2017, and we can only hope for Empire as opposed to Clones, a second part of a trilogy which we’re still hoping may rival the original George Lucas trilogy as a legendary continuation of the Skywalker saga. Only eight more months to go!