It was a big Friday for Star Wars fans in attendance at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. Many camped overnight to ensure entrance into the Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel with the hopes of seeing some footage of the upcoming film. They were surprised in the late hours of the night by director Rian Johnson, who reportedly spent four hours greeting everyone in line, taking pictures and signing autographs.
Once the panel started, president of Lucasfilm and executive producer Kathleen Kennedy was joined on stage by Johnson and stars Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, BB-8 and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose, a maintenance worker who gets pulled into the Resistance. Johnson said that Rose is the most important of all the new characters that will be introduced in Episode VIII.
The panel revealed more details than the actual trailer as the guests shared that the film goes deeper into who Rey and Finn are and we'll be seeing much more of BB-8. Hamill was modest about Luke Skywalker's role in the film, going as far to say, "It’s not Luke's story anymore." Kennedy interrupted and stressed, "Luke is so significantly important to this next film." According to Hamill very little will be explained as to what Luke has been doing during his self-exile. Viewers will need to fill that in for themselves, but he tried to search within his own personal experiences to try to relate to what would bring Luke to that point.
Ridley has been very tight-lipped, especially about Rey's last name, but she did reveal that Rey has a certain expectation in meeting Luke but that "it's difficult to meet your heroes because they may not be what you expect." Remember that.
Kennedy also may have given a hint as to what could be a big spotlight on Rey and Rose as she praised Johnson's script in that he "writes fierce and independent women!" Johnson showed the crowd the teaser poster, featuring Rey holding a blue lightsaber which has a burst of light coming out in the shape of Kylo Ren's hilted saber and turning red at the very edge.
In the background is the predominant image of Luke on the left-hand side in the background. The right side has another face, smaller in size and more obscured ... probably Kylo Ren? Besides that blue burst around the bottom of the saber, the rest is cast in red, the color typically associated with the Dark Side.
But Johnson couldn't leave the crowd with just that image, so of course he ended the panel with the first screening of the teaser trailer ...
We are greeted by a panting Rey, her hand hitting the ground -- this is reminiscent of The Force Awakens' first teaser, which opened with Finn in the stormtrooper uniform, sans helmet, in a panic. We then hear Luke speak as it sounds as if he's teaching Rey the ways of the Force.
Luke: Breathe. Just breathe. Now reach out. What do you see?
We get to see some picturesque establishing shots of the island and all of those stairs that Rey climbed up to get to Luke, Rey watching the waves crashing into the shore and this cool shot where someone is using the Force to levitate the rocks around Rey's hand.
Rey: Light ... darkness ... the balance ...
If you listen very carefully to each word that Rey says, you can hear references to the original trilogy, like Leia asking Obi-Wan for help (for light) with the image of the map that looks like the one used to locate Luke; Emperor Palpatine trying to bring Luke to the Dark Side with Vader's breathing (for darkness) against an image of Kylo Ren's or Vader's shattered helmet, and the faintest sound of Yoda (for the balance) followed by someone activating a lightsaber.
To which Luke responds, "It's so much bigger ..." So he's clearly explored the Force in ways that Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi could show him.
Then we see a nice shot of two people on a mountain side, one wielding the lightsaber and the other about 30 feet away looking on. Based on this shot I'll guess that it's Luke using the saber here, now reunited with his lost weapon and perhaps seeing if he still has it. Or it could be that it's Rey who's wielding the saber and Luke watching on -- perhaps this is later in the film where Rey has undergone some training and she's practicing what she's learned. However, it's the distance between the two makes me believe that it's Luke and maybe it's not such a good thing to reunite that lightsaber with its owner ...
The trailer then cuts to its most visually beautiful portion, where a white sun-cracked stretch of land is disturbed by what could be AT-AT Walkers on the horizon. This is a new location we've never seen before and Johnson told EW about the new setting. It's a new planet called Crait.
“It’s way out there. It’s very remote. It’s uncharted,” says Johnson. “It’s a mineral planet and so there are mines on it.”
He went on to say that the visual of the red dust being kicked up made for “beautiful design elements and I hope some really unique ones that we’re able to bring into it.” It's also a call back to the planet Hoth snow scenes in The Empire Strikes Back, except the white landscape is salt that rests on top of the ruby red mineral base. There is apparently an old rebel base that is on this planet but it's abandoned and will now play a big role in The Last Jedi.
We've never seen this aircraft on Crait before. They each have a low dangling piece dragging on the land below, which pulls up the red mineral base.
There's too little known to make much sense of this scene except that it may be setting up for a battle that will cast this red dirt and dust into the air on a white canvas in what could be one of the film's bigger action sequences. Also keep in mind that the color red has always been used in Star Wars to show the aggressive and destructive side of the Force and the Empire. Red doesn't appear in these movies without reason -- there's definitely some bigger story being told here.
What's more mysterious about this sequence is the one ship that's out of control and dives into the ground before righting itself. Is there a struggle in the cockpit? Are these remote controlled and one is being hacked? What purpose would these ships have to drag a pole in the ground? The plot thickens ...
Next we see some appearances by the other heroes in the story: Finn lying down in some stasis pod of sorts, sleeping or recovering because he was injured last we saw him in The Force Awakens and Poe Dameron and BB-8 racing down a corridor before they see a fleet of docked X-Wings being destroyed.
We then see the Millennium Falcon shooting down TIE Fighters and our first glimpse of Kylo Ren in an extreme close-up with his hilted saber, followed by Rey racing toward something with her blue saber engaged. Obviously we are setting up for another round of the Ren vs. Rey conflict but these two scenes seem to be in separate locations.
We next have R2-D2 and a robed figure approaching the aftermath of a violent scene carried out by a fleet of Stormtroopers led by what appears to be either Kylo Ren or Captain Phasma. ...
Who is the robed figure accompanying R2? Sticking with what we've already seen, my money is on Luke, and this is a flashback to the destruction of Luke's Jedi Academy.
But before we contemplate those pivotal confrontations, we have to see at least one more intergalactic space battle ....
Here we see some more Rebel space craft we've never seen before in both red and blue squadrons, looking like modified B-Wings fighting more TIE Fighters alongside X-Wings.
From here, Luke closes out the trailer by saying that he knows one truth: "It's time for the Jedi ... to end," as he exits stage right.
And now we are left to theorize and ponder about the images and information we've been given ...
Going back to what Ridley said about Luke not being what Rey expected him to be makes me believe that Luke is closer to the Dark Side than the Light. There's a reason why he isolated himself from the others and there's a reason why he chose not to get another light saber. Perhaps what he's explored at that (dark) end of the spectrum has more to it than anything he ever learned from Jedi Knights. And let's not forget his role as Kylo Ren's former master before Snoke ... or maybe they are one and the same? The theories are endless.
This saga is still about the Skywalkers and the poster leans towards this by putting Luke's big face in red and that the only one left to fight it is Rey. Notice who we did not see in the trailer -- most of the players are carryovers from The Force Awakens, plus Luke Skywalker. We also didn't see Master Snoke (nor did we see Rose and how she plays into the story).
There are also these two cryptic images ...
These two appeared when Luke was asking Rey about what she sees and she gets to "the balance" of the light and darkness. Maybe this scene is in a Jedi temple as these appears to be books of some sort illuminating knowledge we've yet to know. The golden burst above looks similar to the blue burst of light in the poster. So Rey may need to find the balance of the light side and dark side to combat the strongest of Jedis.
Again, there wasn't much context to go on. This was a teaser, after all, so it's meant to offer up more questions than answers. A lot of these scenes could be pulled from various points in the film, and who knows if any of it will be relevant in the final cut? The panel did give us some hints to think about, but for now, it's what we'll have to chew on until the all-important first full trailer drops.
As a bonus, here are some behind-the-scenes images that Rian Johnson took throughout the production of The Last Jedi, which he shared with the Star Wars Celebration crowd.
If you caught something that we didn't, please share in the comments below -- let us know what you thought of the first teaser trailer and your theories!