From the moment Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman knew they were going to be filming Episode 8 (aka The Last Jedi), they were mic’d and followed around with Anthony Wonke’s cameras. The directory starts with fans and influencers responding to the news that Mr. Johnson would be writing and directing the film. The tone isn’t too serious but you get the feeling off the bat how much pressure there is for Rian and team. Although that isn’t a surprise, the direction and pace helps drive home that this is no easy feat. This is important since it seemed that everyone whether they loved or hated the movie, thought that they could have done something better.
I noticed quickly how calm and nice of a person Rian was. He had a specific vision but didn’t give harsh or mean feedback and if he liked something he would do this high pitched laugh/squeal sound. It was refreshing seeing a kind person in charge even when there were disagreements. A common theme in the documentary shows Rian and Ram struggle with the budget with so many practical props and sets. And there are a lot! I didn’t realize so many of the creatures and sets were practical and not green screen or CGI. Impressive. Most impressive.
The flow of the movie is literally the beginning stages of planning with creature makers and executives to the end of filming with the cast and crew. One of the most important things I took from the documentary was a deeper understanding of The Last Jedi and why decisions were made the way they were. Rian was thoughtful and even fearful of some of his choices because you can see he is first and foremost a fan of the galactic franchise. The movie presents interviews with cast members about how they feel with Rian’s take on their characters. There was not a dry eye in the theater when the Carrier Fisher section came on. We still miss you, Space Mom.
Anything with Carrie Fisher is still going to have humor though, and this documentary did. Fans get to see silly interactions behind the scenes. Rian is a funny guy too, even though I don’t think he always intentionally trying to be. His mannerisms create those laughable breaks that every light-hearted film needs. Mark is hilarious as well. Although. I don’t think he was going for the grumpy old man humor, but it often came off that way.
After the screening, Rian, Mark, Anthony, and Ram did a Q&A on stage that seemed to lengthen the tone of the documentary. You could tell that all these people had an affinity for one another, which I think made The Last Jedi such a good movie. I would highly recommend The Director and The Jedi to people that didn’t really care for the movie. If you loved TLJ, you’ll love the documentary but I think it really helps people that may not have understood the direction of the movie to see it in a new light. Watch the documentary and then watch the movie again with an open mind. I think it will make a difference. If not, you got to see some more Star Wars stuff and that is never time wasted.
BONUS MATERIAL: Here are some fun things that were discussed during the question and answer part after the screening that I thought would be fun for people to know.
- Mark climbed into Jabba the Hut on the set of ROTJ which he said was paper mache inside and saw a paper clipping of Bowie’s concert in Paris.
- Rian and Mark discussed there disagreement on Luke’s direction and basically stated that there are these types of interactions on every set, but you work together to make the best movie you can with compromise and no egos.
- Apparently, Carrie signed up for the movie before Hamill. He said they were together when they were asked and she slammed her hand on the table and said, “I’M IN!” Mark thought they would never get Harrison on board so when he heard he was in, he said yes too.
- The script was written before The Force Awakens came out. Mark knew that JJ didn’t have the vision for Luke that Rian had and wanted boulders floating around him when Rey finds him on the island. Mark said that would not work if he had shut himself off to the Force so he called Rian to make sure JJ left that out of the final movie.
Side Note: They never mentioned who the woman was on the stage nor did she get a microphone which seemed really strange. That is why I didn’t have her in the article because no one mentioned her or I missed it.