It’s that magical time of the year once again! The time when fans descend upon Anaheim Convention Center to discover all of the secrets Disney‘s been keeping from us. Yes, I’m talking about D23. At the Live-Action Movies panel on Saturday they unveiled a gorgeous new behind the scenes video for the frantically anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The beautifully constructed featurette is a mix of interviews, sound bites, and a lot of brand-new, behind-the-scenes footage. One of the first new sets we see features some domed brick houses that look incredibly similar in style to the houses on Luke’s home planet of Tatooine, though these huts are built with many small bricks rather than carved. Set on a grassy hillside, these structures are likely on Ahch-To, the mysterious planet that may well be the home to the first Jedi temple where Rey found Luke at the end of Episode 7.
With the iconic sound of a lightsaber, the video flashes with on-set footage of the Millennium Falcon, R2D2, and C3-PO’s outer shells as well as the newest addition to the droid family, Poe Dameron’s beautiful robot son BB-8. We then get an incredible glimpse at how Chewie keeps that fur glossy and volumized.
The featurette heavily focuses on the practical effects used in the film, including the breathtaking sequence in the first The Last Jedi trailer where vehicles fly across the sands of Crait, throwing up streams of red behind them.
A seemingly abstract shot of four parked ships leans into the rumors that were leaked earlier this year about Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) using high-end landspeeders to get onto the casino planet allegedly named Canto Bight. We already knew that planet definitely exists after the beautiful photos released in the Star Wars Vanity Fair issue back in May, but this feature begins to build on its connection to the film’s main cast.
One of the other things this video confirms is the existence (and face) of the space horse that was spotted in leaked set photos released alongside the Canto Bight rumors. These creatures are supposedly called Falthiers and are according to rumors “expensive race horses” used on the casino planet. The creature we see is clearly completely practical and is reminiscent of The NeverEnding Story’s Falkor.
Daisy Ridley describes Rian Johnson’s story as “unexpected but right,” so what does that mean for fans? Well, we see Leia, on a planet that looks like it could be Ahch-To, standing in front of Rey. Could she finally be reunited with her brother? Or maybe she’ll be facing off against her son who’s reached the planet and found the last remaining Jedi? Could the underwater sequences we see bits of be set there?
Rey’s training will certainly continue on Ahch-To as we see her hand Luke his lightsaber and then later see her practicing with it on the rocky crags of the distant planet. The question is will this film be heavily focused on the two, reflecting Luke and his training with Yoda on Dagobah from The Empire Strikes Back?
Or could they be tucked away there training whilst the film focuses more on the adventures of the other cast members? We see a lot of Finn and Rose, including one particularly interesting scene where they seem to be dressed up as First Order officers in an elevator together. Boyega hints that the film is moving away from expectations. “Everything is being shifted in the opposite way from what audiences expected after 7,” Boyega states.
We also catch a glimpse of the creatures who protect Ahch-To… Porgs! The fluffy sea birds–who look like penguins mixed with real life Furbys–are more of the incredible practical creations that the featurette showcases.
With a smorgasbord of training sequences, the featurette promises action, inculding Daisy practicing for a fight against three lightsaber wielding assailants. We also see Adam Driver fighting with his iconic three-pronged lightsaber. But it’s his character’s helmet which promises the most as the film showcases a selection of masks lined up together with one that’s melted and twisted, reflecting Vader’s helmet as we saw it in The Force Awakens. Does this spell disaster for Kylo Ren? Or it could it point to his redemption, with his mask discarded along with the Dark Side?
The new footage of beloved new characters like Rey, Poe, and Finn is welcome, but it’s the scenes of some original Star Wars alumni that hit the most emotional notes. Every glimpse of Luke on Ahch-To is bursting with ominous weight. Leia is living with the grief of Han’s death and her son’s involvement in it, and Fisher gives this to us in every moment she’s on screen.
It’s Carrie Fisher’s closing statement–“it’s about Family and that’s what’s so powerful about it”–that really hints at the film’s biggest possible reveals. Star Wars is at its heart a family saga, and Carrie’s words attest to that. Will Leia forgive Ben? Will Rey’s family be revealed? Is she Luke’s daughter, thought to be killed by the Knights of Ren but secretly hidden on Jakku by a conflicted Kylo? Could she even be Kylo’s sister? Under a similar premise, Han and Leia could’ve thought her dead. So maybe Rey was the student that Luke “lost,” leading him to seek out the first Jedi Temple?
Whatever happens, we’ll have to wait until December 15th to find out more. What do you think, though? Is Rey Luke’s daughter, saved by Ben before he truly went to the Dark Side? Did you know Chewie needed curlers to keep his hair so lovely? Are you excited to discover the new planets and creatures that Episode VIII will introduce? Let us know in the comments.
Images: Disney, Lucasfilm