Although we now have less than a year left until the next installment in the Star Wars franchise hits theaters, we still know very little about it. Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi has not released a single frame of footage (and it hopefully won't), so the tone and overall visual style of the upcoming sequel remains incredibly mysterious. That said, the director recently opened up and explained that the next Star Wars movie has drawn inspiration from three very specific films: Twelve O'Clock High, Three Outlaw Samurai, and To Catch A Thief. Johnson explained:
Twelve O'Clock High was a big touchstone, for the feel and look of the aerial combat as well as the dynamic between the pilots. Three Outlaw Samurai for the feel of the sword-fighting, and the general sense of pulpy fun. And To Catch A Thief was a great film to rewatch, for the romantic scale and grandeur.
Rian Johnson's recent comments to Empire regarding his inspiration for The Last Jedi paint a picture of an eclectic and tonally diverse movie. The reference to the World War II drama Twelve O'Clock High leads us to believe that we will get to see quite a bit more of Poe Dameron's (Oscar Isaac) badass fighter pilot skills on full display. On the other hand, the influence of Three Outlaw Samurai seems like a reliable indication that the film will continue The Force Awakens' newly established tradition of practical swordsmanship -- a far cry from the highly choreographed and hurried swordfights of the prequel trilogy. However, arguably the most exciting and intriguing prospect of all is the idea that The Last Jedi will have that "old Hollywood" feeling of romanticism inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief. This movie is going to defy all labels, isn't it?
It's hardly surprising to learn that The Last Jedi has looked to classic movies such as these for inspiration. After all, the entire Star Wars franchise is an amalgamation of classic movie tropes, concepts, and ideas thrown together in order to create something original. A New Hope alone is a clear mash-up of Flash Gordon and classic Akira Kurosawa samurai movies like Seven Samurai. That's what makes these movies feel so simultaneously exotic and familiar.
It also makes plenty of sense for Rian Johnson to look to classic aviation movies to inform The Last Jedi's dogfight sequences. Once again, that idea ultimately ties into the history of the overall franchise. In fact, when creating some of the most iconic Star Wars battle sequences, George Lucas cribbed many full scenes from movies like Michael Anderson's The Dam Busters.
Check out the comparison below to see for yourself:
The entire Star Wars franchise has developed a long tradition of taking inspiration from other Hollywood movies and making something new out of them. With The Last Jedi, it's already clear that Rian Johnson wants to honor that longstanding custom.
The next Star Wars movie will blast its way into theaters later this year on December 15, 2017. Stay tuned for more details!