Breaking down The Last Jedi trailer

The Last Jedi trailer is officially here!

As everyone knew would happen, director Rian Johnson debuted the first trailer (and the first poster) today at Star Wars Celebration during a fantastic, informative, and funny panel with the stars of The Last Jedi.

But the highlight, of course, was the trailer, which was masterfully done.  Let’s walk through the trailer and analyze it (and just to be clear, minor reported spoilers are ahead):

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The trailer begins with a shot of Rey gasping for breath, after which we hear Luke’s voice saying, “breathe.”

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After that we get some beautiful shots of Ahch-To, with Luke’s voice again saying, “just breathe.”  The last shot is especially interesting, as Rey is standing looking out over the sea.  If the rumors are true about Rey having to fight a sea monster of sorts to stay on the island, this seems like it could be as good of a place as ever for that to happen.

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We then get a cool shot of Rey using the force to lift tiny rocks.  Before it Luke says, “Now reach out” and then he asks, “what do you see?”  It seems that this is part of Rey’s force training, as she’s learning to raise the rocks.

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What does Rey see?  “Light,” and we see a shot of General Leia at a map aboard what looks to be a command frigate.  Is this the same map that leads to Luke or a different one?  That’s unclear, but we get our first shot of Leia and she seems to be clearly in command and surveying the situation.  During this shot, there is a whisper in the background of Leia’s voice saying, “you’re my only hope.”  That’s an incredibly nice touch.

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Rey then says she sees “darkness,” and here we get a shot of what looks to be the shattered mask of Kylo Ren.  Considering the only shot we get of him in the trailer is without his helmet, plus this scene, it’s quite possible that he goes without his mask quite a bit in the film.  During this, we also hear in the background Obi-Wan saying, “seduced by the dark side.”  Again, a really great touch.

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Finally, Rey says she sees “the balance.”  We see two shots here.  The first is what appears to be a set of books sitting in the midst of tree roots, and I can’t help but wonder whether this is within the force tree that sits on Ahch-To (or at least has something to do with it).  The second shot is very important, because as Rey says the balance we see it and it’s worth pointing out that it’s the same pose of the poster for The Last Jedi, in which Luke is on one side (the light?) and Kylo Ren is on the other (the darkness?) and Rey is in the middle.  It also just so happens that the symbol is the symbol of the Jedi Order, which makes it much more interesting.  Basically, it seems that Rey might try to find the balance in the force.  It should also be mentioned that these books could be the Journal of the Whills, which would be cool if that’s the book at the first Jedi temple that Luke is at.  If I had to guess, I’d say that this is indeed the Journal of the Whills and that it helps Luke (and Rey) understand the need for balance in the force and how to achieve it.  Also, during this segment in the background we hear Yoda say, “surrounds us… binds us,” another great touch.

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We then get this amazing shot of Rey training with the lightsaber on the edge of a cliff while Luke looks on.  We hear Luke say, “It’s so much bigger,” meaning that it’s bigger than the light, darkness, and balance in the force.  But what does he mean?

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Following Luke’s statement we begin to get a series of various shots in a row.  The first of which is visually really cool, as we see a new kind of ship flying over the white surface with the rocks in the background, heading toward First Order walkers.  It’s assumed that this is Crait, which is rumored as a salt/snow planet (it looks like salt to me), and this is reportedly where a major battle takes place between the two sides.

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Finn is recovering from his injuries in The Force Awakens, but he’ll have a significant role in the upcoming film, going on a mission with Rose.

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The next shot is Poe Dameron and BB-8 running frantically in what appears to be the hallway of a ship, and then upon arriving in the hanger there’s an explosion there.  Is this an ambush by the First Order on the Resistance fleet?  To have the best pilot in the Resistance frantically running to his ship, with an explosion then going off in the hangar, seems to suggest that it was an ambush and that the Resistance could be in trouble.

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There’s an awesome shot of the Millennium Falcon blowing up a tie fighter and being pursued by a couple of others.  It’s in the atmosphere of some planet so it’s nearly impossible to tell where they’re at, but if I had to guess I’d say it’s Ahch-To – which would mean that the First Order found Luke and Rey there.  Are they aboard the Falcon, or is it just Chewbacca?  Either way, we’ll get to see the Falcon in action once again.

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We get a shot of Rey running and then a shot of Kylo Ren with his lightsaber, and we hear Luke saying, “I only know one thing…”  The shot of Rey appears to be on Ahch-To, which leads me to think it could be a training scene.  But if the guess about the Falcon being in the atmosphere over Ahch-To is right, then it would mean that the First Order found them (as some reports have suggested will happen)… which could mean that Rey is not running as part of her training but either in fleeing from someone or running toward someone.  The shot of Ren, however, doesn’t appear to be on Ahch-To at all – but rather the background could seem to suggest it’s the burning ruins of Luke’s Jedi academy that we see in the next shot.  It seems that the shot is meant to evoke those thoughts, but it should be noted that Kylo has the scar above his left eye that he suffered in The Force Awakens, making it highly improbable that it’s a scene in a flashback at the Jedi academy.

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This shot seems to be an expansion on the one we saw in The Force Awakens, when Luke reaches his robotic arm out to touch R2-D2.  Basically, it seems this is a shot from the burning Jedi academy that Luke had started, after Ben had betrayed him and turned to the dark side.  It seems that this might be in another flashback scene that helps to further explain what happened on that fateful night, and it seems as if everything was lost.  Luke kneels down looking over the burning ruins with R2 by his side.

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This next shot is very interesting, because it shows Captain Phasma followed by a number of stormtroopers emerging through fiery ruins.  Placed right after the shot of Luke’s burning academy, it would seem to suggest that Phasma and the stormtroopers played a crucial role in the destruction of what Luke built.  That’s one option, but there’s another one too: this is from another scene of destruction that is unrelated to the previous one but that’s spliced together like this intentionally in the trailer.  I’d lean toward it being the latter, and I’d guess that it could be the same location as the Kylo Ren shot earlier.

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If you want a large-scale space battle, it looks like you’ll get it in The Last Jedi.  The Resistance (or perhaps New Republic?) forces clash with the forces of the First Order over a planet that certainly looks to be D’Qar, which could mean that this takes place earlier in the film as the Resistance tries to flee their now-known base and are ambushed by the First Order.

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The final shot we get in the trailer is of Luke standing in the entry-way of a cave, and we hear the second part to his statement of “I only know one truth” … “it’s time for the Jedi to end.”  The visuals here are nice too, as he seems to be standing in the doorway between the light and the dark.  But the main thing is what he has to say: it’s time for the Jedi to end… what does it mean?

We may get into this more in-depth at a later point, but I’ll just share very briefly what I think he’s getting at: at this point in his life Luke has spent decades searching for Jedi teachings and lore and artifacts and the like, and he’s even tried to revive a new Jedi order.  But as we know, the Jedi were far from perfect (as the prequels showed very clearly), and my guess is that Luke realizes that it’s about more than the light, the dark, and the balance – to truly balance the force, the Jedi must end.  As long as the Jedi are around, there will be a swinging pendulum – the Jedi will hold the power, then the dark side will push back and re-take that power.  It just keeps going back and forth, so in order for balance to truly be reached the Jedi have to end…  Or, perhaps, it’s a much simpler reality: Luke has lost faith in the Jedi and it needs to be restored (given Daisy Ridley’s very interesting comments about Rey and Luke in TLJ panel, this could be possible).  Either way, it adds a ton of meaning to the title The Last Jedi, as Luke is the last of the Jedi – but could he be the last ever Jedi?  Luke’s statement to end the trailer is a perfect tease and is sure to get people talking for months.

Overall, the trailer was brilliantly done: we got some amazing shots, it prominently featured Rey and Luke, it built up a ton of intrigue, questions, and excitement, and it really didn’t give away any of the plot at all.  Another trailer well-done by Lucasfilm.

3 thoughts on “Breaking down The Last Jedi trailer

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