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The Last Jedi’s First Trailer Looked a Lot Like The Force Awakens’ and You Know What, That’s Just Fine

tfa tlj comparison

One of the largest criticisms lobbied against The Force Awakens was its parallels to the original trilogy. Specifically, many people weren’t happy about the fact that its plot seemed to borrow a ton of elements from A New Hope: large planet-killing base, a “trench run” to destroy it, desert planets, and so on. (We call these unhappy people “curmudgeons.”)

That being said, The Force Awakens was still a really fun movie, and a great revival of a franchise nobody thought would ever see a new movie ever again. Well, it seems that for The Last Jedi, the policy is: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

At least, that’s true for the trailer, which carries some pretty striking resemblances to The Force Awakens‘ trailer. I hesitate to say that these are on purpose or anything (but of course I will in our Wild Speculation section below), because a lot of the shots that are included in this side-by-side recut of the trailer are just well-composed shots—the kind that you’d use in, say, a video that’s supposed to build hype for your movie… (I think they call those trailers?)

Anyway. Up front: this isn’t a direct comparison. The two trailers aren’t playing out exactly side-by-side here. They’ve been lightly edited so that the parallel shots are juxtaposed against one another. As well, the editor saw to it that the music swells and cuts also match across the two trailers. What we’re left with is a pretty stunning comparison between the two trailers, both which absolutely make use of similarly composed shots to drive fan hype for the upcoming film.

It’s entirely possible that whoever put together the trailer for The Last Jedi is exactly the same person who put together the trailer for The Force Awakens. If so, this parallel looks like a fascinating study into one person’s thoughts and attitudes towards how a trailer should be cut together. If not, then it’s likely Lucasfilm just decided to not mess with what worked. What I’d like to see is a possible comparison to the Rogue One trailers, which themselves were created outside of the film’s own creative group—at least, that’s according to Gareth Edwards’ explanation of why the trailers used That One Shot of Jyn in the Tunnel and it never showed up in the movie.

There were more than a few moments in this video, though, that had me wondering and speculating wildly in my own head: the exploding ship on Jakku vs. the explosion behind Poe’s X-Wing (seriously why does everything blow up around you, Poe); Finn catching his break on Jakku vs. Rey catching her breath on Ahch-To (H2, spelled out phonetically, because what is subtlety); and Kylo Ren shot from behind looking out at the firing of Starkiller Base’s weapon vs. General Leia (*sob*) shot from behind looking at a star map (plus a maybe-Admiral Ackbar in the background).

What’s super intriguing to me as someone who reads so much into shot composition and symbolism is the comparison between Kylo Ren activating his lightsaber vs. Rey’s hand as she meditates on the Force. I just find it super fascinating that the same “triangle shape” can be found across both of the shots: think of the outline that the bottom edge of Kylo’s lightsaber makes against the horizontal ground (triangle) and the way Rey’s pinkie finger rests on the ground as compared to the rest of her fingers.

Like, okay, sometimes a similar shot is just a similar shot, and there is a 99.99998% chance that this is a pure hecking coincidence. But the shots are strikingly similar enough that they have me wondering about some of the incredible symbols at play here (Kylo’s “power” coming from the threat of force and violence, whereas Rey’s comes from the use of her feeling and the capital-F Force, and the similarities/differences contained therein).

Anyway. These are the things I’ll be mulling over until they’re thoroughly disproven and/or talked down by angry fans. But you, dear reader … you get me, right? R- … right?

(via Film School Rejects image: screengrab)

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