Rian Johnson reveals 2 films he's screened as inspiration for Star Wars 8

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Dec 17, 2018, 4:00 PM EST (Updated)

Rian Johnson has begun work on his first Star Wars film, and the movies he's watching as preparation might surprise you.

When the acclaimed Looper director was announced as the man who'd both script and direct the eighth Star Wars film, many fans applauded the choice. Johnson's won the hearts of genre fans with his sci-fi storytelling, and he's a diehard Star Wars fan, so he's earned plenty of support as he gears up for the flick. He also, apparently, still can't believe he has the gig.

“I can only assume it was a clerical error, like in the movie Brazil," Johnson said during a recent taping of the Filmspotting podcast. "There’s a Brian Johnson out there who is really mad.”

As for what he's doing to prepare, Johnson described it as "summer camp," and said he and his crew are screening movies nightly. So, which ones? Well, he didn't name any sci-fi classics or blockbusters, but he did cite the 1949 World War II film Twelve O'Clock High, starring Gregory Peck, and the classic Russian adventure film Letter Never Sent, from director Mikhail Kalatozov. Now, on the surface, neither of those films has anything to do with Star Wars, but there are themes and stylistic elements in each that could serve Johnson and company well as they head to a galaxy far, far away. For example, Twelve O'Clock High is about an Air Force officer who uses tough tactics to improve a bomber unit during World War II. Replace the World War II-era bombers with X-Wing fighters and you can see how the inspiration might translate.

Johnson also joked about a particular element from Star Wars past that he's particularly focusing on right now.

“With these films, I am trying to harken back to the original Star Wars … Christmas special. We have Jefferson Starship.”

So, while Johnson's off at Star Wars summer camp, we'll all be watching Twelve O'Clock High and Letter Never Sent to see if we can decipher what he might be up to.

(Via The Playlist)

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