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Rian Johnson explains why he didn't make time for a Han Solo funeral in The Last Jedi

Contributed by
Feb 2, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the longest film the franchise has ever produced, and there's not a moment wasted. Whether you like the film or not, you can't argue that it's absolutely packed with plot. There aren't a lot of lingering shots put there to simply fill space or characters talking in circles. Everyone is always moving, always pursuing some objective.

That means the film feels shorter than it is, and it also means that certain things you might have thought you'd see glimpses of were not only never filmed, but never even considered.

One of those things, according to writer/director Rian Johnson (who has not been shy about explaining his storytelling decisions), was a funeral scene for Han Solo, who died on Starkiller Base after being stabbed by his son in the climactic moments of The Force Awakens. In that film, the moment is marked by Chewie's rage, Finn and Rey's shock, and a shot in which General Leia senses Solo has passed and nearly collapses with grief. That's all we really get in that film, though, as the base still has to be destroyed and the map to find Luke Skywalker still has to be completed. 

SPOILERS FOR THE LAST JEDI AHEAD

Given that the reaction to Han's death is relatively brief in Force Awakens, it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that The Last Jedi might revisit the loss in a little more detail. It doesn't. We get a couple of shots of Leia looking wearied and tired, the moment when Luke asks "Where's Han?" and the moving final moment between Luke and Leia when he hands her Han's dice from the Falcon cockpit and tells her "No one's ever really gone."

Other than that, Han is barely mentioned in the film. His absence is felt, but there's no real moment of mourning, let alone a funeral scene. In a new Q&A with Collider, Johnson explained why he never even debated including that moment in the film.

“[There was no debate of showing Han Solo’s funeral], just because pacing-wise it didn’t have a place," Johnson said. "It’s tough in Star Wars, because I always think about the mourning that Luke gives to Ben’s death, which is all of four and a half seconds before ‘Come on kid, we’re not out of this yet’ and then boom, you’re into ‘Yay, woo-hoo! Don’t get cocky!’ There’s the moment for it, but it’s not long. We don’t have time for our sorrows, commander. That’s kind of the thing of Star Wars; you don’t really linger on grief because you’re moving forward.”

Johnson is a lifelong student of Star Wars, so he knows his stuff. These are characters who are constantly fighting, constantly battling toward the next objective, so the idea that they would have time to really stop and ponder their grief is tricky, as is inserting long sequences of sadness into what's essentially a series of adventure films. The most mourning we ever get in Star Wars is Luke lighting the Anakin/Vader funeral pyre at the end of Return of the Jedi, but that was more of a symbolic abolishing of Vader than a real funeral. 

Still, if you really want some Han Solo closure, you're in luck: Johnson and author Jason Fry revealed on a recent episode of The Star Wars Show that a funeral scene will appear in some form in The Last Jedi novelization.

What do you think? Was leaving Han's funeral out the right call, or did we need more time to say goodbye to our favorite smuggler?