In case you haven’t seen, Kylo Ren’s mask is back in The Rise of Skywalker.
Yes, the one he wore for much of The Force Awakens and then destroyed early in The Last Jedi. It is now repaired, and it is pieced together with a red substance, allowing you to see the cracks in it clearly. As I wrote earlier this year, this needn’t be seen as a retcon of TLJ, because it’s understandable story-wise.
And in a recent interview with Empire Magazine, J.J. Abrams explained why Kylo Ren returns to the mask – and it’s actually something that fans have speculated about for a while now.
“Having him be masked, but also fractured, is a very intentional thing,” Abrams said. “Like that classic Japanese process of taking ceramics and repairing them, and how the breaks in a way define the beauty of the piece as much as the original itself. As fractured as Ren is, the mask becomes a visual representation of that. There’s something about this that tells his history. His mask doesn’t ultimately hide him and his behavior is revealed.”
This classic Japanese process that Abrams mentions is called Kintsugi, and many fans speculated that it could be behind Ren’s mask. In fact, back in April Caitlin Plesher wrote an article at Skytalkers explaining the process of Kintsugi and how it relates to Kylo Ren in TROS. She explains that Kylo is literally cracked in that there is still light in him, and this process sees the beauty and values in broken things.
While fans wondered if that could be it, I’m impressed that it actually was the inspiration behind it and that Abrams flat out acknowledged it. Star Wars has had plenty of imagery and meaning from Asian cultures in recent years, and this is just the latest example of that. More than anything, I’m just happy that J.J. Abrams and his team actually thought through this really well to come up with an explanation that makes a ton of sense – and is really cool.
I hope that Kylo Ren doesn’t wear the mask too much during the movie – because Adam Driver is too good of an actor to be left primarily behind the mask – but we know that he wears it for at least some of it. And the mask represents a lot of what is going on within Kylo Ren. He is broken and cracked, just like his mask. He wants to hide behind his mask, but he can’t. And through it all, we see the beauty shining forth.