Star Wars: The Force Awakens editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey recently detailed their thoughts on Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi.
The two, who have worked with The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams on a number of films and TV shows including Mission Impossible III, Star Trek (2009), Super 8, and Alias, appeared on the Light the Fuse Podcast where they were quite candid on their opinion of Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi.
The beginning of the third part of their interview with the Light the Fuse Podcast begins with them answering whether or not they liked The Last Jedi.
Brandon replies first saying, “I liked parts of Last Jedi, yeah?” She adds, “The Last Jedi was a different take on the Star Wars Saga.”
“To Rian’s credit he stuck to what he wanted to do. He wanted to deconstruct the film and open it up to go a different direction. And that is the film he made,” Brandon detailed.
She continued, “I know it is controversial, isn’t that kind of good in a way? That’s why I say I feel very much in hindsight, the trilogy, the last part of the trilogy, needed one vision.”
Markey didn’t beat around the bush. She stated, “I couldn’t agree more. It’s very strange to have the second film so consciously undo the story of the first one. That’s what it felt like.”
When confronted with the idea that many fans felt The Rise of Skywalker undid The Last Jedi, Markey responded, “It took where the second film ended and just tried to tell a story. I didn’t feel like it was consciously trying to…it didn’t feel that way to me.”
The host then described The Last Jedi as “polarizing” and Brandon runs with it, “I agree. I think it is really polarizing and I think it was hard to know for the writer and J.J. what to do with it.”
“It’s like if somebody wrote the middle of your novel, and it’s like okay how do I get the end of the novel?”, questions Brandon.
From there Brandon and Markey go on to discuss the big action films they’ve been part of and how a lot of the films are created in the cutting room
“I think any big film, action-adventure, sci-fi, you know all of these films, they are very hard to get on paper. I think as editors, in my experience, you end up doing so much work in the cutting room because you can’t really write these things out,” Brandon adds.
She elaborates, “It’s like, ‘Oh they go to the thing and they have a battle on this planet, and then that battle becomes a story in itself.’ But on paper it’s not quite a story, it’s just kind of a sequence of shots. And you are dealing with visual effects and you are dealing with cohesiveness, and you are trying to keep a story alive. And it gets big. I think that’s why those kind of films spend so much time in the editing room.”
The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy Had One Vision, Disney Rejected It
Brandon’s idea that Disney’s Star Wars trilogy needed one vision, is one that many fans believed it would have. And it appears at one point there was a clear vision until Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi.
As reported by IGN, actress Daisy Ridley, who played Rey, detailed to French publication Geek Le Mag that Abrams had drafts of Episodes VIII and IX, but the draft for VII was discarded due to Johnson writing his own script for The Last Jedi.
Ridley stated, “Here’s what I think I know. J. J. wrote Episode VII, as well as drafts for VIII & IX. Then Rian Johnson arrived and wrote TLJ entirely.”
She added, “I believe there was some sort of general consensus on the main lines of the trilogy, but apart from that, every director writes and realizes his film in his own way.”
Ridley concluded, “Rian Johnson and J. J. Abrams met to discuss all of this, although Episode VIII is still his very own work. I believe Rian didn’t keep anything from the first draft of Episode VIII.”
But before we even got to this stage, we know that Disney threw out George Lucas’ initial treatments for the trilogy as well. Former Disney CEO Bob Iger detailed in his book, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, how they purchased outlines for a sequel trilogy from Lucas, but decided to not use them.
“At some point in the process, George told me that he had completed outlines for three new movies. He agreed to send us three copies of the outlines: one for me; one for Alan Braverman; and one for Alan Horn, who’d just been hired to run our studio. Alan Horn and I read George’s outlines and decided we needed to buy them, though we made clear in the purchase agreement that we would not be contractually obligated to adhere to the plot lines he’d laid out.”
He then detailed that they had planned to not use George’s outline, “The truth was, Kathy, J.J., Alan, and I had discussed the direction in which the saga should go, and we all agreed that it wasn’t what George had outlined.”
Disney actively chose not to have a singular vision for the films on multiple occasions. Their leadership team guided the future of Star Wars and they failed at it abysmally. They approved of Rian Johnson’s pitch for Star Wars, and ultimately brought the film to theaters. They chose to produce the polarizing and divisive film, which has brought the Star Wars franchise to its knees.
But even more shocking is that leadership team is still in place and is continuing to run Star Wars. Kathleen Kennedy is still the president of Lucasfilm. Alan Horn is still the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Chairman of the Walt Disney Company, and Bob Iger is the newly appointed Executive Chairman of The Walt Disney Company, with a focus on Disney’s creative endeavors.