Writer and director Rian Johnson had the daunting task of pushing the Star Wars franchise in a bold, new direction while providing a thematic conclusion for the characters established in George Lucas' original trilogy.
Johnson spoke with Huffington Post about his decision to cap off Luke Skywalker's story with a stand against the First Order, revealing that he was "dreading" that scene all throughout the filmmaking process.
"I don't want to get too explicit, because I like people being able to have their own interpretations," said Johnson, "but I think definitely the act of what he does at the end literally just takes everything out of him. That's a huge thing. Also ... he's having his final act be something of myth-making in a way."
Throughout the first half of the movie, Rey and Chewbacca attempt to convince Luke to return to the Resistance and fight against the First Order, but Luke refused for one simple reason: he is one man, and one man cannot fight an army. But in the end, he does exactly that, possibly building off of concepts created by Lucas himself.
"It does go back a little bit to what he said at the beginning," Johnson said of the film's epic confrontation between Kylo Ren and Luke on Crait. "'What do you think one guy walking out there with a lightsaber [can do]?' ... The answer is: Create a legend that will spread hope. And once he's done that, combined with the physical toll it's taken on him, you can make the case that then there's nothing more powerful that he could accomplish."
The story of the confrontation is key to the film's ending, which shows children telling the story of Luke Skywalker facing down an army of Walkers. It shows that a spark has lit the fires of hope across the galaxy, and that a new generation of Force users will be there to fight the war.
"The galaxy needs legends," Johnson said. "I think about the look in Rey's eyes in The Force Awakens, when she says, 'Luke Skywalker, I thought he was a myth,' and that gleam in her eyes. And I think about how I felt when I showed up to work the first day to meet with Mark Hamill, and I sat down and started talking to him, and I could only see Luke Skywalker. He made it very hard to talk, and [it's] the idea that there's value in that, in terms of inspiring us to fight the good fight and to be our best."
But now that Luke has gone the way of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda before him, there's potential for him to "do more for the galaxy in another form."0comments
The idea of Luke having passed into another realm and what the potential could be there for his involvement, that seems like it just gives you a whole other realm to get into if [Star Wars: Episode IX writers J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio] chose to in the next film."
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now playing in theaters.