After a few days of anxiety and uncertainty due to everything going on in the world right now Star Wars fans were greeted with a nice little surprise this evening when the digital version of The Rise of Skywalker was released a few days earlier than its original release date of March 17th.
One of my favorite aspects of the home release of the latest Star Wars movie is diving into all the special features that come along. While The Rise of Skywalker unfortunately doesn’t have any deleted scenes or a director’s commentary, what it does have is a two-hour making of documentary titled The Skywalker Legacy. These making of features are often some of my favorite pieces of Star Wars material, but unfortunately thus far they’ve been a little hit or miss for the new movies. The documentary that was released along side The Force Awakens was nice but ultimately felt like it was missing a lot of important pieces that made up the production of that movie and didn’t match the quality of previous documentaries like The Phantom Menace’s “The Beginning.” The Director and the Jedi however was excellent and felt more like a “complete” look at the making of the eighth entry in the Skywalker Saga. So how does The Skywalker Legacy stack up? Pretty well in my opinion. It explores the thought process behind many of the decisions that were made in The Rise of Skywalker, and constantly cuts in behind the scenes footage from the history of Star Wars movies that ties everything together nicely. As with any good behind the scenes piece it also provides a bevy of interesting details and bits of trivia and I’ve decided to focus on a few that I found of particularly interesting.
One of my favorite crew members featured in the documentary is stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart. Star Wars fans are familiar with George Lucas’ mantra of “faster and more intense” and Eunice is the human embodiment of that idea. It’s a lot of fun to see her at work designing the stunts that were featured in The Rise of Skywalker and it seems like the cast and crew really enjoyed her enthusiasm as well.
There’s a nice segment devoted to the return of Carrie Fisher’s General Leia and the difficult task of bringing her to the screen one last time after her unfortunate passing in 2016. They talk about how on Chris Terrio and JJ Abram’s first week of writing the movie they started examining unused footage from The Force Awakens. From there they began writing Leia’s scenes around what they had available. There’s a good bit of focus on Carrie’s daughter Billie Lourd and the range of emotions she felt during these moments on set. There’s also an extended look at the training sequence between Luke and Leia and it really makes me wish we got a little more of that in the final movie.
Speaking of Billie Lourd, there’s a nice sequence with her and Kellie Marie Tran toward the end of filming. It’s nice and it really makes me wish they had used Rose more in The Rise of Skywalker.
The return of the man himself, Billy Dee Williams, is also really good. There’s a bit that wasn’t in the final movie with Lando on Chewie in the hallway of the Falcon.
The process of filming the Pasaana scenes in Jordan is impressive. It’s clear that the technical difficulties of filming in such an exotic and remote location came with a unique set of challenges that the production had to overcome. To me one of the craziest bits of Pasaana related production is the fact that they made a giant practical version of the sand serpent that Rey heals below the sinking fields. It looked really cool and ended up being mostly replaced with CGI in the final movie.
Everyone’s favorite little dude Babu Frik gets a lot of attention as well. They detail the great pains that they went through to populate his droid workshop including a model of the Bad Robot mascot itself. Shirley Henderson, Babu’s voice actress, also operated the puppet’s controls and there are a few humorous moments with her on the set.
Of course, John Williams’ contributions to the The Rise of Skywalker and the saga overall are not ignored. We see his final recording of the icon Star Wars theme and details on his cameo in the movie. One of my favorite details is that the prop department decorated his set with representations of all fifty-one Academy Award nominations that he’s received throughout his career. From small yellow cannisters that represent Jaws, to a space whip for Indiana Jones, and a metal corn cob pipe for Tom Sawyer. That’s really cool.
Ian Mcdiarmid’s return as Emperor Palpatine gets a little bit of screen time but I could’ve used more. JJ talks about how the opera scene in Revenge of the Sith is his favorite moment from the Prequels and how it served as the inspiration for ole Sheev’s return.
There’s so much more to unpack and explore in The Skywalker Legacy and the things I’ve just talked about only being to scratch the surface. I’ve only watched it once so I’m sure there will be a lot more that jumps out at me upon further viewings. Overall, I think it’s a nice, satisfying feature that shows the process behind making the last installment in the Skywalker Saga. Is it as good as The Beginning or Empire of Dreams? Probably not, but it’s good and it has a nice mix of new information and nostalgia.
Anyways, I hope you guys are doing ok. I know things are crazy right now, but maybe sitting backing and enjoying The Rise of Skywalker and all of it’s extras can help take your mind off everything for at least a few hours. Take care of yourself!