Rian Johnson had a discussion to explain the conceptual similarities between his soon to release film Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi and Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back by Irvin Kershner. The sequel trilogy of the Star Wars was officially unveiled a couple of years ago with the release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, by J.J. Abrams.
While it is true that the film was highly appreciated and won critical acclaim and went on to break almost every single box office record that existed at the time, it is also true that it received a lot of flak for too much reliance on plots and concepts from the legendary original 1977 Star Wars film by George Lucas (the one that was later subtitled as – A New Hope).
Shortly after the record shattering film released in December 2015, Abrams took it upon himself to address the criticism by the fans and explained why it was absolutely vital to show the audience how Star Wars had been in the times prior to the original trilogy by Lucas. He also went on to explain how the foundation for the new trilogy was laid so that Johnson as well as Colin Trevorrow, the Director of the Star Wars: Episode IX would be able to go on and create their own separate narratives. Still, many fans remained sceptical about the possibility of the similarities likely to continue with The Last Jedi being heavily influenced by The Empire Strikes Back.
During the interview which happens to be the EW’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi Cover Story, Rian Johnson affirmed that there are structurally similar premises between his film and The Empire Strikes Back, but, also emphasized that the upcoming film is very different from the second installment of the original trilogy.
“I just tried to kind of ignore that aspect of it and have the story take the shape that it needed to. But look, Rey is off in a remote location with a Jedi master, and the Resistance is in a tough spot, and we’re intercutting those stories. By its very nature, there are some structural parallels. But these are new characters, they’re dealing with new things, and that ultimately is what defines the movie. So I think that’s going to be unique.”
Johnson illustrated that there are only two visible similarities between the two films. First similarity is the part where Rey trains with Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To reminds us of Luke training with Yoda on Dagobah and the second similarity is the parallel between the Resistance suffering their first major loss after losing the Starkiller base and the Empire having lost the Death Star. Besides these two incidents, The Last Jedi is an absolutely original storyline.
Prior to this interview, Johnson had addressed these issues last month at D23 Expo 2017 and had explained at that time as well that these two films will share some resemblance with both being the middle chapters of their respective trilogies. Frankly, it does seem that The Last Jedi will be very much a film with its own unique narrative with only certain fleeting and unavoidable similarity to ‘Empire’