The Last Jedi was about as unconventional a Star Wars movie as you can get. Yes, it had lightsabers and Jedi, space battles and conversations of the Force, but Rian Johnson changed a lot about the way we view these movies. He took a more ethical approach to the entire story of Star Wars which led to a complex but satisfying sequel rather than just creating a fun action movie. One of those striking elements of the movie that he made his own happened to be the very first scene in The Last Jedi; the space battle.
Space battles have always been a huge staple of Star Wars. In fact, the first scene ever to appear in a Star Wars film involved a space battle! That’s how important they are. Every Star Wars movie that there has been has had at least one space battle in it and The Last Jedi was thankfully not an exception…but Rian Johnson made sure to put his own spin on it.
Instead of solely focusing on a fascinating display of X-Wings and Tie Fighters having multiple dogfights above the planet of D’Qar he focused mainly on the characters in these ships. We see Leia arguing with Poe aboard the Raddus rather than just hearing her speaking on the intercom. We see Resistance pilots in their ships preparing for battle. We see the officers and General Hux of the First Order preparing to eliminate the Resistance. Back and forth we see these individuals’ faces and it helps increase the intensity of the situation because we are given windows into these various characters’ lives at that moment. Um…genius!
And then as the situation grows all the more dire the camera shows a lone woman’s face. We don’t know who she is other than the fact that she’s obviously one of the gunners on the Resistance bombers. She watches in horror as her fellow bombers are swathed in flames. What can she do? She and her team are the last bomber left.
We find out via Poe Dameron that her name is Paige so now she becomes a legitimate character who we now figure is kind of important. We aren’t following what’s going on outside the bomber where action is clearly being displayed in multiple dogfights. Instead we stay in the bomber with this new character that, until The Last Jedi, wasn’t even known.
It’s a powerful scene that highlights true bravery from the fighters of the Resistance. In fact, Paige Tico may be the most important character in the movie simply because she, alone, was the person to destroy the Dreadnaught. Let’s say she hadn’t pushed that button to release the bombs that would thus destroy the First Order destroyer. The Dreadnaught would’ve singlehandedly obliterated the Resistance right then and there and the movie would’ve been over before it even started. Paige prevented that and we are only given a fascinating story to follow because of her.
This is why I love Rian Johnson’s vision of Star Wars so much. It’s been over half a year since I watched The Last Jedi for the first time and I’m still obtaining revelations of new things in this movie. The space battle at the beginning is one of those revelations.
He took an unknown character and composed a short story about them in the midst of an incredible space battle without losing the overall excitement or intensity of the scene. Characters drive his movies, not action, and it makes for a refreshing originality that we haven’t quite seen in Star Wars before.
He also understands the concept of creating brand new characters and making us interested in that new character within a few seconds of meeting them. That’s super important and that’s what is going to make his new trilogy so much fun to watch. Now that I know his style of movie making I can’t wait to see what he does with a new story to tell. I’m sure it will be complex and just as riveting as The Last Jedi is.
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a beautiful day. May the Force be with you.