The Escapism Of 'The Last Jedi' Feels More Relevant Now Than Ever
You may have heard that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is going to be a pretty dark installment in the Skywalker saga, but the magical feeling viewers get when they travel to that galaxy, far, far away is still in tact. Daisy Ridley spoke of The Last Jedi's escapism in a recent conversation with Rolling Stone, remarking on the sci-fi elements of the franchise. While certain elements of escapism have always been a part of Star Wars, the opportunity to leave this world for two-plus hours definitely has a special appeal this year.
Speaking of the upcoming movie, Ridley, who stars as Rey, told the magazine,
"It's somewhat a reflection of society. But also it is escapism, because there are creatures and there are people running around with f*cking lasers and sh*t. So, I think, a wonderful mix of both."
Despite the bleak ending of Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and the rather dour trailer for the upcoming Rian Johnson-directed follow-up, you'll still apparently be able to leave your 2017 future worries (Star Wars takes place a long, long time ago) at the theater door.
Johnson confirmed to Rolling Stone that the December release will include a lot more humor than the trailer lets on, which will be a relief for anybody who finds the holidays to be a stressful or painful time. Though the cast and crew of the franchise has been, as always, tight-lipped when it comes to plot points and character arcs, it's easy to believe we might be in for an epic release from our Terran troubles.
Let's start out with the setting. Even though the Star Wars Extended Universe is no longer cannon, the world of the movies and the Clone Wars television series is vast and full of many planets and alien life forms (both of the puppet and CGI variety). It's hard to think about Earth's global warming crises when you're watching a movie and wondering just how many single-biome planets there can be. With every detail deeply considered and rendered through computer generated images, modeling and exotic filming locations (Ireland, Croatia, Mexico!) you can easily feel transported.
Then there's also a lightness that comes with the lovable characters. We don't know too much about what this next movie holds, but it's hard to feel down when you know there's BB-8 rolling around where he shouldn't be. There's also a promising new lot of adorable aliens coming our way in the Last Jedi called Porgs that look like an even cuter version of a penguin.
In terms of humans, while Han Solo (Harrison Ford) might no longer be with us, Luke (Mark Hamill) will be there. We'll get to enjoy the late great Carrie Fisher as Princess, now General, Leia in her last movie with the franchise. There's also plenty of love to go around for the new characters, with the return of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and Ridley's Rey. The already established relationships could even go in surprising new directions; rumor has it Kylo Ren might be teaming up with Rey.
Still, while it might be easy to let a flow of nostalgia and wonder take you to your happy place, Ridley is right about the "reflection of society." Politically in Star Wars, it always seems like the bad guys are able to use fear and greed to convince people to follow them. In Episode VI: Return of the Jedi the evil empire, which was originally voted into power in Episode III, fell, but a couple decades later a new regime is still ruling the universe through force, and the Force, in Episode VII and VIII.
I'm going to refrain from comparing the cape-wearing conniving government officials of Star Wars to our own, but go ahead and make your own historical comparison as you see fit.
Yet, even this very connection to our world can be uplifting and inspiring. Last January, when several hundred thousand people descended on Washington D.C. for the Women's March, many women carried signs with Princess Leia's face on it with messages like "A Woman's Place Is In the Resistance." Who among would not love a world where a woman can be both a beautiful princess and a brilliant, strategic force in a revolutionary army?
In other words, this movie is your perfect chance to escape at least 12 parsecs away to a world where the penguins look vaguely like rabbits and people die by laser instead of bullets. But, if you're feeling like you want to do something about the Dark Side the film is through, there's probably a resistance in this society waiting for you.