Warning! “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” spoilers below.
He started as a starry-eyed kid who just wanted to go to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters. Now, 41 years later, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has leveled up to legend status.
In “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Skywalker heroically casts some sort of Force-fueled astral projection to stall Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), affording the rebels a last-minute escape from a planet called Crait.
Skywalker, whose body was actually back on another planet called Ahch-To during his entire battle with Ren, collapses afterward, looks off into the distance at two different suns and disappears, leaving behind his Jedi robe.
And we’re all like ...
VFX Supervisor Ben Morris described the fatal “Last Jedi” shot ― with that memorable sunset ― as mostly real, though he said the filmmakers added a second sun in post-production. The two suns serve as a callback to the pair of setting stars Luke sees early on in “A New Hope.”
Ultimately, Luke went out the same way he came in.
That final sequence was a challenge, however, for editor Bob Ducsay.
“It’s a purely cinematic scene. There’s no dialogue. There’s no action. It’s all emotion and character and figuring out exactly how to communicate to the audience what we want to communicate.” Ducsay continued, “We spent an enormous amount of time on it.”
Ducsay told HuffPost he felt the final cut was a success because it was both “nostalgic and hopeful.” But, after our hero artfully embarrassed the Dark Side’s Ren, some viewers were left wondering, “Why the heck did Luke have to disappear?”
“I don’t want to get too explicit, because I like people being able to have their own interpretations,” director Rian Johnson told HuffPost, “but I think definitely the act of what he does at the end literally just takes everything out of him. That’s a huge thing. Also ... he’s having his final act be something of myth-making in a way.”
It does go back a little bit to what he said at the beginning [of “The Last Jedi”]. “What do you think one guy walking out there with a lightsaber [can do]?” ... The answer is: Create a legend that will spread hope. And once he’s done that, combined with the physical toll it’s taken on him, you can make the case that then there’s nothing more powerful that he could accomplish.
Johnson said he knew early on that “The Last Jedi” was going to revolve around Skywalker’s journey to take on the “mantle of the legend of Luke Skywalker,” despite the fact that the disillusioned Jedi had rejected that characterization earlier in the film.
“The galaxy needs legends,” Johnson explained. “I think about the look in Rey’s eyes in ‘The Force Awakens,’ when she says, ‘Luke Skywalker, I thought he was a myth,’ and that gleam in her eyes. And I think about how I felt when I showed up to work the first day to meet with Mark Hamill, and I sat down and started talking to him, and I could only see Luke Skywalker. He made it very hard to talk, and [it’s] the idea that there’s value in that, in terms of inspiring us to fight the good fight and to be our best.”
Johnson was candid about Luke’s “death scene,” saying he was actually “dreading” it. But if it was going to happen, it had to be then, he argued.
“When I realized that that’s where Luke was going to get to by the end of the movie, and when I realized this was gonna be an emotionally rich arc for him, it seemed like if there was a time to give him his moment, this would be it,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was kind of dreading it, but at the same time it felt like the right moment. It felt like the right time in this trilogy.”
And though Johnson isn’t writing the next film — that duty goes to J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio — he did talk about how Skywalker could possibly “now do more for the galaxy in another form.”
Johnson said, “The idea of Luke having passed into another realm and what the potential could be there for his involvement, that seems like it just gives you a whole other realm to get into if [Abrams and Terrio] chose to in the next film.”