While Star Wars: The Last Jedi is certainly darker in tone in some parts, the movie makes it a point not to start that way.
The Last Jedi deals with some serious themes, but the film actually kicks off with a joke, an intentional decision by director Rian Johnson. While there are some heavy things to deal with throughout the film, Johnson didn't want audiences to leave without having a few laughs and is happy to hear it landed with audiences.
"Oh good, whoo-hoo," Johnson told Vanity Fair. "That was something that was really, really important to me. That’s part of what I enjoy in movies. It’s part of what I enjoy in Star Wars. I think about Han and Leia and Luke wisecracking their way through the Death Star. The movies always had that sense of humor."
The Last Jedi inhabits the Empire Strikes Back spot in the new trilogy, lending itself to darker times for our heroes. It was important for Johnson then to balance that and keep the fun, and leading off with the comedic moment became paramount.
"Especially coming into the middle chapter, it has a stigma of always being darker," Johnson said. "I knew it was going to get darker in some spots just because of what we had to do. It was really important to me, to, at the very outset, make a bold statement of, we’re going to have fun here also. Relax, you can laugh with it also, this isn’t just going to be a dirge. . . . That was the one thing I was most nervous about last night because we never tested these movies. This was the first time I’ve watched it with a crowd bigger than 10 or 15 people. The one thing that you can never know until you put it in front of a big crowd of strangers is if the jokes play or not. So I was very relieved when we got the laughs."
Johnson remembers holding his breath a bit during the opening moments. "Oh, that very first scene," Johnson recalled. "That was really the one that was just, I was holding my girlfriend’s hand very tightly when that came up. Then I relaxed when the audience got it and started rolling with it. It’s so important to me because that sets the tone and the expectation that, oh, O.K. there are going to
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters now.