As we speak, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is available for digital download and it will be available on Blu-ray and 4K (the first Star Wars film to be offered in this format to date) on March 27. An advance copy of the Blu-ray showed up in our mailbox today (sadly, not the 4K, because I was hoping to write about how Star Wars looks in this format, but I’ve been told that it’s coming) so we decided to listen to director Rian Johnson’s director commentary track – and for a film that clocks in at 152 minutes and with a director who likes to talk about filmmaking, there’s a lot going on here.
It’s interesting: Johnson says more than a few times that he’s recording the commentary before the film is released into theaters and mentions on multiple occasions some iteration of, “I wonder how audiences will react to this part.” Now that he’s well aware of what audiences reacted to, I kind of wish he’d go back and do another commentary track. And I realize if he’s reading this he’s shaking his head saying, “That’s crazy, no way,” but it would be pretty fascinating during the scenes that became somewhat, let’s say, polarizing.
Regardless, this is still a fascinating commentary. (Full disclosure: I say this as someone who doesn’t listen to many of these and, when I do, usually find them somewhat dull.) Anyway, here’s what stood out:
• Johnson confirmed something I’ve suspected but have never heard before (and I’m sure it’s out there, I just haven’t seen it): the opening theme to Star Wars during the crawl is slightly different each time. John Williams rerecords the score every time and each time the mix isn’t quite the same. In the past I thought, maybe, it was just the way the different sound systems were set up in different theaters, but this is actually a thing.
• Within five minutes of the commentary starting, Johnson references the 2015 horror movie, The Witch. Three minutes later Johnson then references The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. This is a commentary track with a lot of nerdy movie references.
• Johnson reveals that to get the look right on Kylo Ren’s smashed helmet he had to do it himself by stomping on it with his own feet. (I kind of wish J.J. Abrams would have stopped by the set on this day to say hello and accidentally witnessed this. “Oh, so, you don’t like the helmet I came up with?”)
• During the scene when Chewbacca almost eats a cooked Porg, Johnson can’t help but giggle while talking about it.
• Johnson’s one cameo in the film is when Luke pulls down Han’s dice in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. That’s Johnson’s gloved hand in the closeup.