‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ teaser trailer analysis

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
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This past weekend, Star Wars Celebration turned Orlando, Florida, into a not-so-wretched hive of fandom and geekery. For four days, it didn’t matter what type of fan you were — a prequel stalwart or an OG trilogy purist, a Stormtrooper cosplayer or a Rebel-garbed fan — because Star Wars nuts of all stripes put aside their differences and united in their common love of the coolest galaxy far, far away. And for fans such as myself who couldn’t make it to Orlando, we united too — albeit in a collective, resounding and pained expression of disbelief that echoed across multiple parsecs, as Thursday’s live streams had more technical flaws than the Death Star itself.

Such issues proved minor, though, and didn’t stop fans from basking in the gravitas of a 40-year-old franchise, as the legacy of Star Wars was a running theme throughout the convention. This sense of legacy was never stronger than during the convention’s more pensive moments, as those gathered didn’t just celebrate Star Wars, but one of its brightest stars, Carrie Fisher. Moving tributes from her daughter, Billie Lourd, and Mark Hamill, a laugh-inducing but also tear-jerking video montage and a John Williams performance of “Princess Leia’s Theme” are moments that fans will remember as well as any scene from the films.

Star Wars Celebration Orlando was most notable though, for the premiere of the first “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” teaser trailer. Unlike Star Wars Celebration Europe of last summer, whose lack of movie news was disturbing, SWCO did not disappoint, as director Rian Johnson, the cast and producer Kathleen Kennedy premiered the long-awaited teaser at the “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” panel. Even though the highly anticipated eighth film in the Skywalker saga is still eight months away, fans can now enter a frenzied stage of speculation and fierce over-analysis — something I’m guilty of by writing this article. In any case, here are my thoughts on the most interesting moments from the latest Star Wars trailer, and I’ve put the timestamp on each point of interest. On the off chance that my predictions prove correct (they probably won’t, unfortunately I’m not Force-sensitive), spoilers may follow.

0:11 — Dagobah Cave: Redux

The first shot in “The Last Jedi” trailer shows Rey falling to her knees, panting. Behind her seems to be a cave of sorts. We know that this shot takes place on Ahch-To, the planet where Rey first meets Luke Skywalker at the end of “The Force Awakens.” Ahch-To is presumably the location of the first Jedi Temple, so we can assume that it is a place with a significant presence of the Force. Given the history of Ahch-To, it wouldn’t be a far cry for the cave behind Rey, which she seemingly has just exited, to be similar to another important Star Wars cave: the one on Dagobah as seen in “The Empire Strikes Back.” In that cave, Luke Skywalker encountered a literalized version of his worst fear, that he would give in to the dark side like his father, Darth Vader. If Rey’s training is to mirror Luke’s, then perhaps experiencing a similar test is something on Luke’s Padawan curriculum.

0:39 — Rey meditates

In the foreground, we see pebbles levitating as someone’s right hand touches the ground. In the background on the right, we can see what looks like the sole of someone’s shoe. It’s safe to assume that the hand belongs to Rey, since, thanks to his dad, Luke doesn’t have a right hand. The grey sleeves are also trademark Rey fashion. Additionally, we can see a blaster in the belt’s holster, and it looks like the one Han Solo gave Rey during “The Force Awakens.” This brings us to the shoe in the background, and the way we can see its sole, but also the holstered blaster, suggests that it is a shot of Rey sitting cross-legged, perhaps in a meditative state. Since we can assume “The Last Jedi” will focus on Rey’s training with Luke, this shot suggests that we’ll see an expansion of Rey’s use of the Force. If she can levitate pebbles with minimal effort while meditating, one wonders what she’ll be able to do by the end of the film.

0:46 — The Hutt slayer herself, General Leia

General Leia has been poised to feature heavily in “The Last Jedi.” Previous reports have confirmed Carrie Fisher’s significant role in the film, which fits the narrative established thus far. In “The Force Awakens,” Starkiller Base destroyed the Hosnian system, the seat of the New Republic’s government. The aftermath of this cataclysmic event suggests that the New Republic is without a government, which would allow General Leia, the leader of an independent military force called the Resistance, to effectively take charge of the New Republic. Additionally, there were reports from the trustworthy folks at Making Star Wars that “The Last Jedi” will feature a casino planet called Canto Bight, where Laura Dern’s character could make an appearance as a government leader. Such a setting would be conducive to feature Leia, who might be visiting Canto Bight on a diplomatic mission. It is also worth noting that the classic line, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi,” can be heard faintly in the background. The inclusion of this line could be a mere callback to Leia’s past, but it could also bolster the popular theory that Rey is Obi-Wan’s granddaughter, something I’m becoming more and more convinced of. Ultimately though, in the wake of Carrie Fisher’s passing, seeing Leia in “The Last Jedi” has become one of the most anticipated aspects of the film, perhaps more so than seeing Rey train with Luke. Leia’s arc in the film has become even more significant with Kennedy’s announcement that Leia won’t be making an appearance in “Episode IX.”

0:54 — Kylo Ren’s smashed helmet

In this shot, we see Kylo Ren’s helmet smashed to pieces, and whether this is the result of his temper tantrums or an epic battle is difficult to deduce. Still, we can assume that Kylo has made himself another helmet, since he left his old one on Starkiller Base, which blew up at the end of “The Force Awakens.” What is truly significant in this shot, though, is the inclusion of Obi-Wan himself, albeit vocally. A snippet of Alec Guinness’ line, “Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force,” can be heard faintly in the background. This recalls the inclusion of both Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor’s voices in Rey’s Force vision in “The Force Awakens,” which further suggests the impending significance of Obi-Wan in this new trilogy.

1:00-1:03 — Force relics?

At this point in the trailer, we see a shot of what looks like a tree with some books resting on it. In the “Shattered Empire” comic book, a miniseries set in the aftermath of “Return of the Jedi,” Luke Skywalker discovers a Force Tree and plants it on Yavin 4. A Force Tree is only vaguely defined in that comic, but it is basically a tree imbued with a strong Force presence. Later in the shot, we see a gloved hand touch a dusty book. Since it is a right hand, this could be Luke, as he usually wears a glove to cover his robotic hand. Thus, this shot could be Luke visiting his Force Tree, and the dusty books with the Jedi Order insignia on them could be old remnants (really old, since when was the last time we’ve seen physical books in Star Wars) from the Jedi Temples he’s been searching for since “Return of the Jedi.” “The Last Jedi” seems like it will explore the Force and the history of the Jedi like no other Star Wars film before it, and this shot seems to bolster that notion. Additionally, we can hear Yoda’s voice in the background saying a snippet of his line from “The Empire Strikes Back:” “(The Force) surrounds us and binds us.” As with Obi-Wan’s role in Rey’s Force vision, Yoda can also be heard in that sequence from “The Force Awakens.” His inclusion in this teaser could suggest an appearance by the Jedi master’s Force ghost. After all, Luke would probably have gotten lonely in his exile on Ahch-To, so it makes sense that he’d have occasional chats with Yoda’s Force ghost.

Unless the gloved hand belongs to the similarly handless Ponda Baba. Then, this whole blurb is invalid.

1:18 — B-wings??! AT-AT’s??!!!

In one of the most striking shots of the teaser, we see a cadre of ships emit a red gas as they barrel toward what look like AT-AT walkers. The ships look reminiscent of B-wings, which would explain their ricketiness, as such ships are remnants of the Rebellion. It is interesting, however, to note the AT-AT walkers in the distance. A report from Making Star Wars says that these walkers are the First Order’s heavily fortified version of an AT-AT, casually referred to as a Gorilla Walker. In any case, it will be thrilling to see the clash teased here onscreen.

1:21 — Finn’s bacta tank

In the aftermath of “The Force Awakens,” Finn suffered a significant wound to his back from Kylo Ren’s lightsaber. This shot could be his recovery using bacta technology, a cure-all of sorts in the Star Wars universe. It could be something else entirely, however, since the blue background seen in the right hand corner of the shot looks like the hyperspace effect that surrounds a ship. Could Finn be in an escape pod traveling through hyperspace? We’ll have to wait and see. We do know, however, that Finn will be having an adventure with Rose (series newcomer Kelly Marie Tran), who is a maintenance worker for the Resistance. The duo are reluctant heroes, a perennially interesting characterization in the Star Wars universe.

1:22-1:23 — Guys, please don’t kill Poe (again)

The shots here show Poe in action along with his trusty pal BB-8, who was referred to as the Buster Keaton of “The Last Jedi” at the film’s panel at SWCO. While we can expect much more of BB-8 being adorable, things could take a darker turn for Poe, who, at 1:23, seems to be too close to his exploding X-wing for comfort. Poe was killed in earlier drafts of “The Force Awakens,” and we would all be sad to see him go in “The Last Jedi.”

1:27-1:29 — Rey and Kylo’s rematch

Even though Rey beat Kylo (and took off bits of his face in the process) in “The Force Awakens,” another Rey victory wouldn’t be guaranteed in “The Last Jedi,” especially if the film is going to be inspired by the darker tone of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Although the shots shown here look to be from different scenes, one can’t help but think about the rematch between these two powerhouse Force users. Such a showdown would be even more exciting, given that Kylo and Rey will be trained by Supreme Leader Snoke and Luke, respectively, and that both will embrace the full potential of the powers available to them.

1:30 — A rare Star Wars flashback

In this shot, we see a burning domed building, possibly a Jedi Temple, and a hooded figure with R2-D2. This shot seems to recall a moment from one of the early “The Force Awakens” teasers (around 0:49) showing Luke and R2. The environments from these two shots look similar, which could indicate that the shot from “The Last Jedi” teaser takes place in the past, presumably in the aftermath of Kylo Ren’s slaughter of Luke’s pupils and the destruction of the Jedi Temple (remember Han Solo’s bit of exposition in “The Force Awakens”). If so, this would be significant for possibly being the first true flashback in Star Wars history. Sure, we’ve had a mini flashback through Rey’s vision in “The Force Awakens,” and we’ve had scenes that take place in the past, as with the opening of “Rogue One,” but seemingly never a true flashback. We know that “The Last Jedi” will pick up right where “The Force Awakens” left off, so the film might not begin with a prologue set in the past, which makes a flashback a probable option for exploring Luke and Kylo’s backstory. Introducing true flashbacks into the Star Wars universe is the type of risk taking that we can expect out of Rian Johnson, an innovative filmmaker in his own right.

1:40 — “It’s time for the Jedi to end.”

Throughout the teaser, we’ve been hearing narration from Luke: “Breathe. Just breathe. Now, reach out. What do you see?” Rey replies, “Light. Darkness. The balance.” Luke’s response is the kicker: “It’s so much bigger. I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.” We don’t know the context of this line, so this could be from the beginning of the film, when Luke is a jaded, crotchety hermit due to the catastrophic events of Kylo Ren’s betrayal. If that were the case, Rey could be the catalyst to bring Luke back to believing in the Jedi again.

There is a more complex, more intriguing alternative though. Luke has had 30 years to deepen his understanding of the Force, and the conclusion he arrives at seems like it will revolutionize Star Wars — that the Jedi-Sith binary is toxic, and that the only way to achieve balance is by getting rid of both parties. Force users such as Rey and Kylo might belong to some new third party, which is in line with everything the new Star Wars continuity has been establishing. For example, in the animated TV show, “Star Wars Rebels,” we see an ancient creature called the Bendu, who is aware of the Force and can act on it, but doesn’t take a side between Jedi or Sith. Kylo Ren himself is a third-party Force user — the Knights of Ren are neither Jedi nor Sith. In fact, “The Force Awakens” is chock-full of non-Jedi and non-Sith who embrace the Force, such as Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o), owner of the second coolest bar in the galaxy (sorry Maz, the Mos Eisley Cantina is still the best), and the purveyor of Jedi lore, Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow), who belonged to the Church of the Force. More recently, Chirrut Îmwe from “Rogue One” does not abide by the the Jedi-Sith binary, choosing to believe in the Force through his association with the Guardians of the Whills. Even the poster for “The Last Jedi” reflects the disintegration of the Jedi-Sith binary and the theme of balance, since Rey is put squarely in between Luke and Kylo, who represent light and dark, respectively. Perhaps more symbolically, the colors of their lightsabers represent such balance, since blue (the color of Rey’s lightsaber) is the median between red (Kylo) and green (Luke) on the color wheel. Thus, Rey would be the hope for the future that Luke is investing in. As a Jedi (the titular final Jedi), Luke realizes that he cannot bring balance alone. Rey would have to adopt the Jedi’s principles of the light side of the Force, while realizing that the dark side isn’t purely evil. After all, in the words of Rey’s (possible) grandfather, only a Sith deals in absolutes. Regarding Kylo, I think we can expect a redemption arc from him. Both him and Rey could become medians between the light and the dark, but Rey would mostly embody the light, and Kylo, the dark. Thus, both characters will carry the torch which Luke ignited in the original trilogy.

Conclusion

Even though I believe this teaser contains clues aplenty, there is still much that hasn’t been revealed. The only clue as to who Benicio Del Toro could be playing is his description as a “man in black,” which only bolsters the popular fan theory that he is Ezra Bridger (a young Jedi training in between “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope”) gone rogue. Additionally, we still have yet to receive any significant clues about Supreme Leader Snoke’s identity (is he Salacious Crumb? Or TR-8R? Maybe even George Lucas himself?). “The Last Jedi” is a film shrouded in mystery, which, for me at least, is part of the fun. I think that the period in between teasers and the release of the film is the most exciting time to be a Star Wars fan. SWCO may have ended Sunday, but Star Wars fans are in for eight months of giddy anticipation.

Harrison Tunggal covers film. Contact him at [email protected].

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