December 31, 2019

'The Rise of Skywalker' Writer Chris Terrio Settles the 'Last Jedi' Debate

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a very divisive film. Now, its Oscar-winning co-writer reveals some of the reasons behind the plot's biggest twists and turns. 

No matter what happened within Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, there would be people who loved or hated the choices. That's the nature of writing and of the business of making movies. 

Rise of Skywalker was always going to have some story controversy surrounding it. It was originally supposed to be written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, but after their departure, J.J. Abrams boarded the film with Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio. 

We don't know who did what, or what people decided on earlier, but we know what we got. 

Now, Chris Terrio has been talking with IndieWire about the process and decisions made in regards to plot and character. 

It is important we cover the differences between The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker. While many fans felt decisions in Rise were retconned fixes demanded by upset fans. 

Terrio tackles that head one, citing a basic misunderstanding about what happens on screen. He says Last Jedi gave them a ton of "gifts" they could use for the script. Especially things like when Luke catches the saber that Rey tosses away. In his words: 

"Yeah, that could be a meta way to read that and think of it as some kind of rejection of ‘The Last Jedi,’ but that’s not the case. That moment for us was about Luke having learned something and Rey having grown, and he will not let Rey make the same mistake that he did. It was purely a character moment, because at the end of ‘The Last Jedi,’ of course, Luke’s actions speak louder than words, and he decides to project himself and sacrifice himself to save the Resistance. Now, that is the Force ghost that Rey is meeting. And so, like any good parent, he’d say, ‘Learn from my mistakes, and I won’t let you throw away your inheritance, really,’ because it is her inheritance, both Anakin’s saber, which is Luke’s saber, and Leia’s saber, are her inheritance.”

Modern audiences often seem to look for a meta narrative -- or hidden agenda --  that may or may not be there. This seems like a genuine callback to a moment from a previous movie that comes full circle with two beloved characters. 

Terrio also touched on the movie's biggest and most controversial reveal -- that Rey is Palpatine. (Which the movie bends over backwards logic-wise to make sense and work within its broken story.)

While we have no timeline of how and when this idea was introduced, it's clear they loved it internally and did their best to make sure it fit. (Editor's note: Our sources tell us that Palpatine being the puppet master behind a trilogy whose first two chapters are very obviously free of his meddling was a relatively late-ish addition in the creative process. The movie was still shooting scenes and bits as of October 2019._

“As J.J. said, that it would almost be weird for Palpatine not to be in some way in this movie...Because when we discover Rey, she’s literally living in the wreck of the old war, the previous war, that literally the landscape of Jakku is scarred with evidence of the war that came before. We were moved by the idea that the person who should have to fight to regain the balance that Anakin Skywalker gained was the descendant of his greatest enemy who corrupted Anakin Skywalker in the first place.”

So that brings us to that final scene, with Rey Skywalker. 

As she gazes out over Tatooine's iconic twin sunsets after (for some unclear reason) using the Force to bury Luke and Leia's lightsabers, the Force ghosts of Leia and Luke look on proudly. Terrio dispels the idea that Rey is going to live there like a hermit, instead calling her journey a pilgrimage. 

But they did want that last scene to pay homage to what Lucas created. So what do they want audiences to feel at the end of this saga? 

“It was shortly after we had decided that we wanted to really embrace this idea that Rey had come from the darkest lineage imaginable, but in the course of the movie, a Palpatine becomes a Skywalker. That for us felt like the fitting end, because at the beginning of the trilogy, there’s a Skywalker who’s essentially being corrupted again like Anakin was, to become more like Palpatine. In the end, we thought that the final victory of the Light and the final act of self-affirmation for Rey was to declare that despite her blood she is a Skywalker. At that moment, the Skywalkers truly win the family saga.”

What's next? J.J. Abrams says critics were right! 

Abrams responds to those critical of the new Star Wars franchise by agreeing with them. We did not see that coming.      

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"(Which the movie bends over backwards logic-wise to make sense and work within its broken story.) "

How I wish No Film School had other columnists to write about writing. It takes a lot of ego to accuse all the writers and directors of the new Star Wars of having written a "broken story". Why the need to insult and bully people in vacuum since they clearly won't ever read this? Are you trying to prove that you could have done better? Well, then do it. Write a great fucking script, get it made and then drop your mic. But until then, we come to this site hoping to get insights from people who actually create things we admire, not insults from people who appear to be jealous internet trolls.

January 2, 2020 at 4:44PM, Edited January 2, 4:44PM

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Stephen A van Vuuren
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