It’s safe to say the sequel trilogy has a controversial legacy within the Star Wars fandom. While many fans decried The Force Awakens for being too similar to A New Hope, they were even more upset with The Last Jedi for its stark departures from the previous films.
In particular, writer-director Rian Johnson’s depiction of Luke Skywalker as a disillusioned hermit hiding out after his failed training of Ben Solo didn’t sit right with many fans. Five years after the film’s release, the film is still a point of contention within the fandom.
But perhaps that debate is the entire point.
In a recent interview with Empire Magazine, Johnson looked back on the film and stuck to his vision: “I’m even more proud of it five years on…When I was up at bat, I really swung at the ball.”
While this may further upset fans who didn’t like The Last Jedi, it speaks to an important principle of creative integrity and risk-taking, something Star Wars as a franchise has largely been lacking in the Disney era.
Considering Johnson had to pick up the pieces in the middle of an unplanned sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi is a remarkable piece of storytelling in the narrative gaps it manages to fill. Beyond that, Johnson provided some of the most stunning and original visuals of the trilogy.
Of course, The Last Jedi is far from perfect. Even those who like the film take issue with the Holdo Maneuver plothole and the meandering journey into Canto Bight.
Yet, by taking risks and challenging fans, Johnson utilized the world of Star Wars itself to create a lasting narrative:
"I think it’s impossible for any of us to approach Star Wars without thinking about it as a myth that we were raised with, and how that myth, that story, baked itself into us and affected us.The ultimate intent was not to strip away – the intent was to get to the basic, fundamental power of myth. And ultimately I hope the film is an affirmation of the power of the myth of Star Wars in our lives."
The ongoing controversy around whether The Last Jedi is “good” or “bad” is absolute proof that Johnson succeeded in his goal. One of the classic definitions of high art is that it provokes an emotional response in its audience, and The Last Jedi continues to do just that.
Follow Dork Side of the Force for all your Star Wars news, reviews, and more!