Star Wars: The Force Awakens said goodbye to Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Star Wars: The Last Jedi bid farewell to Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. So it only makes sense that the late Carrie Fisher gets her own send-off in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and co-writer Chris Terrio confirmed that one of the main goals of the movie – specifically because they had a limited amount of footage to work with from the previous films – was to figure out how to solidify Leia’s legacy in the entire saga and complete the arc that was alluded to in Return of the Jedi.
Chris Terrio has been answering a lot of specific questions about everything that happens in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and one of them, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, focused on the final scene of the film directed by J.J. Abrams.
Having returned to Luke Skywalker’s home on Tatooine, Rey buries the lightsabers of Luke and Leia in the sands of the desert near the homestead of Owen and Beru Lars. Afterwards, she sees the Force ghosts of both Luke and Leia, and it’s this moment that cements her personal choice to identify as a Skywalker, and not the Palpatine line from which she hails.
However, many fans have been wondering why the recently deceased (and disappeared) Ben Solo didn’t also appear alongside his mother and uncle. After all, he seemed to go the same route as Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi before him, having been redeemed and given his life force to Rey in order for her to survive. Terrio explains some of the thought process as to why only Luke and Leia appear in that moment:
“We absolutely discussed who would be there at the end. It’s not as though those Force ghosts will never appear to Rey now that she really is the first of the new Jedi. I think she has all of those Jedi behind her. J.J. was pretty clear about the idea that he didn’t want to take away from the moment of Leia finally appearing as a Force ghost and the twins finally being together. This might be in the novelization, but we talked a lot about how Leia lost her home. Alderaan is gone. So, she could never take Luke to see where she grew up as a princess, but Luke could’ve taken Leia to see where he grew up as a farmer. But, the twins never got to Tatooine together. So, the idea of seeing the twins together after the sabers are laid to rest felt like it was something that was very moving to me and J.J.”
I’m willing to bet there are plenty of details in the novelization of The Rise of Skywalker that provide much more insight into many things that fans have questions about after seeing the movie. In fact, the novelization of the movie doesn’t arrive until March 3, and considering the fact that The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was delayed until the end of March, I wouldn’t be surprised if changes made in post-production on the movie resulted in some slight changes that needed to be made to both books.
Interestingly enough, the consideration of who would appear to Rey at the end of the movie ended up being something that led to them settling on only Luke and Leia. And the main reason for that, as Terrio hinted at above, is to solidify Leia’s legacy in the entire saga. Terrio explained:
“To circle back one of your earlier questions, besides the friends being together, I suppose our main goal of those first few weeks — because we were working largely with the Leia footage — was to fulfill the promise of “there is another” in this film. It has to put Leia into the Jedi pantheon. To do that without new footage of Leia was challenging, but that became the central story of Rey finishing the Jedi journey of Leia. That way, by the end of the film, Leia could join Luke as a Force Ghost and spiritually join her father and all the other Jedi.”
So why aren’t all the Jedi there with Luke and Leia? Terrio has an answer for that, too:
“While you only see the twins in that moment, we thought that would give Leia more centrality, and you would really feel the strength of seeing Leia in the Jedi afterlife for the first time. Spiritually, it’s not a crazy idea that all the Jedi would be standing with them, but it might’ve been a bit of a visual shock to see all these new characters on Tatooine who weren’t part of the story of Leia, Luke and Rey. It’s a fair question from fans because it’s a question that we debated endlessly — about what the final shot of Force ghosts would be. We spent hours and hours talking about this and debating it, and we decided that the moment when the Jedi have to be there for Rey, when it dramatically counts, is when she hears their voices. So, seeing them all at the end would be a lovely grace note, but we thought that Rey seeing her two masters, two Skywalkers, was stronger. Rey was in the unique position of having been trained by two Skywalkers, which is what’s going on in the moment where she destroys the Emperor. It’s her, Luke and Leia standing together because she’s got the two Skywalker sabers in her hands.”
Personally, I think that line of thinking only strengthens the idea that Ben Solo should be there with Luke and Leia as well, creating a bridge between the old twins and the dyad of the Force. But there are a lot of things that I wish had gone differently in this movie, especially when it comes to getting answers to unsatisfied threads in this finale.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now.
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