Today’s Feature: The Director and The Jedi (2018)/ Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not the most agreed upon entry in the series. Even Mark Hamill has expressed some discomfort with Luke’s arc, as it was distinctly not the triumphant return that many expected. Personally, I really enjoyed what it did for the direction of the new trilogy, regardless of some problems. I wrote about that in length here. Whether one enjoyed the film or not, it must be acknowledged as one of the most important for the continuing franchise and, as the franchise is a massive part of popular culture, the direction of fantasy films in the modern era. There are always interesting stories behind the making a film this big and The Director and The Jedi provides an ample amount of insight into the production of the film.
The documentary begins with the announcement of Rian Johnson as writer and director of the film, and introduces many of the most important figures on the production side. I especially liked this aspect of the documentary, as it tends to focus on those behind the camera instead of the actors in front of it. Sure, there are comments from the cast throughout, but they are all in relation to Johnson and crew. Even the segments on Carrie Fisher are from the perspective of Johnson. As it continues, you’ll find out how many tough decisions are made during production and how even one of the biggest films of all time had budget restrictions. Watching the different crew members interact, sometimes save each other from concerns, is a rare and intriguing aspect of this feature length film. I was shocked to see so much frankness in a Disney release. Receiving a view of the chaos of film making, paired with constant reminders of how complex some of the scenes truly are could have been an enjoyable experience in itself but even that is still not my favorite aspect of the feature.
What I really enjoyed was insights into Johnson’s motivations for his somewhat radical views of the Star Wars galaxy. Whether you agree with them or not, the director certainly makes his case here, insecurities about his decisions included. There was a real artistic drive behind this entry and Johnson was far from a “hired gun”, as mentioned in the documentary. Johnson felt all of the pressures one would on a film of this magnitude, and stuck to his vision. If you end up enjoying that, be sure to check out the short Balance of The Force featurette as well. Johnson takes the time to flesh out his motivations concerning the audiences perception of The Force, especially in relation to Luke’s denial and eventual use of it.
The Director and The Jedi is available on the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray and Digital Releases of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.