I like Star Wars, and I recently watched The Force Awakens again. I knew that I liked the final scene, but after seeing The Last Jedi, it made me realize how good of a scene it was. I confess that I was jolted a bit upon seeing how the shot was handled, but it made me go back and study what drew me in so much.
In doing so, I found myself going over this scene a few times, and decided to share some things that I saw. Refresh yourself by watching the video, and then follow along with my thoughts below:
(Note: This video keeps getting taken down. Sorry about that.)
Whew. That was great.
Okay. What follows is a shot-by-shot description of the scene and the major feels I got from this powerful scene. The rhythm and structure were extremely well done. This scene left a mark on so many people, that I felt I had to study it a bit. I won’t dissect every possible interpretation and analysis, but I will point out things I thought were worth mentioning.
I view the trailer as happening in three parts: The Approach, The Arrival, and the Encounter.
1. Part I – The Approach. The Millennium Falcon enters from hyperspace with a high-tech visual shot, traveling from right to left.
2. We get Rey’s face (on the right side) getting ready to see something of importance. This cues the audience to get ready to look at something like…
3. …the natural planet Ahch-To. The entire premise of The Force Awakens has revolved around finding Luke’s location, and after all this time, we are nearly there.
4. The Millennium Falcon breaks through the clouds, mirroring the revealing nature of the scene.
5. Not to be subtle, the Millennium Falcon roars in full view, giving us a shot of the most iconic spaceship in this space drama.
6. The descending shot is held long enough to give a sense of anticipation similar to that feeling of finally arriving at your destination after a long trip.
7. As the Falcon zooms down, we see shots of scattered islands. The idea of solitude is readily apparent.
8. We see Rey’s face again. This time, a bit less anxious. She feels something. Slight musical notes of the Force are teased. More natural color now fills the screen.
9. Chewbacca takes a curious look at Rey in her moment. The focus is on him and his noteworthy reaction. He senses something about her.
10. The Falcon sprays water loudly as it makes its final approach and the music fades. We’re left with a peaceful looking isle and cut to…
11. Part II – The Arrival. Nature sounds are heard. Rey turns to look back one last time.
12. R2 and Chewbacca offer a bit of a farewell/good-luck. They aren’t meant to go any further in this story. Rey stands where the grass is greener.
13. Rey begins her climb. The music fully changes over from the previous part’s music.
14. In a rare Star Wars moment, there is the first of a few longer crossfades. These slow the pace and change the tone. There is no rush. Breathe.
15. We see the long, winding path Rey must take. She’s barely noticeable as she ascends. This reminded me of kung fu masters and ancient gurus found on mountaintops.
16. The ascent continues as she makes her way from right to left. Her exercised breathing can be heard. She’s on a much higher level than when she started.
17. We are shown what looks like a bit of a peak. We are making progress.
18. Rey has come far. The sea is becoming more distant, and we see a bit of her struggle on her face.
19. Her precarious standing on the path she has chosen is made apparent.
20. At almost exactly at the halfway point of the scene, we are abruptly transitioned into a shot of Rey walking back to the right across a thin ledge of rock.
21. Rey slows slightly to take in her stark surroundings. These are remnants of dwellings and some artifacts
22. In the center of a cradled valley, we can barely see a figure moving into a larger clearing. This is the final passageway leading into a life fully engaged with The Force.
23. Rey ascends with a concerned and determined look as the wind blows and the music swell to announce that we have reached…
24. Part III – The Encounter. The camera pans past Rey to focus on a drab and cloaked figure with Rey at the far right.
25. The scene dances flawlessly with our perceptions. The Force-ful music builds ominously (not joyously!), and we center on the muted frame of Luke Skywalker.
26. To bolster the situation, we are given a balanced ying/yang shot of young, vibrant, lively Rey on the right, and the older, stoic, calm Luke on the left.
27. Luke slowly turns to see what has found him after all this time…
28. And we haven’t seen his face for a long time, so the reveal takes its time. We are given the gravity of the situation by being set up to feel the intensity on his face.
29. Rey has nothing that can be communicated with words.
30. She reaches for her belongings to grasp his lightsaber. The music drops and we get a slight rest from the reveal of this mythical figure.
31. Rey is having feelings.
32. Luke is having feelings
33. The Force Music is heavy and we see Rey with her earnest presentation.
34. Now Luke has serious feelings. The nature of the previous static shots is about to be broken because we’re all about to realize something …
35. This is a major shift from one…
36. …to the other.