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What It’s Like To Write A Star Wars Opening Crawl, According To The Last Jedi’s Rian Johnson

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There are few film franchises as beloved and iconic as Star Wars. The epic space opera has so far spanned eight films, allowing the property to accrue generations of fans. And one of the moments from each main Star Wars film that is sure to set fans' hearts into a frenzy is the opening crawl. Delivering exposition among the stars, the Star Wars crawl and its accompanying song instantly capture the attention of the fandom, and transports them back into a galaxy far, far away. And while Rogue One was missing the crawl, Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi will bring the iconic moment back. And the director just revealed how challenging it was to script it.

With the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi inching closer everyday, the cast and crew have begun making their rounds to promote the upcoming film. In a recent conversation with the LA Times at D23, director Rian Johnson revealed the difficulties of writing the crawl for his film, saying:

That was petri... Actually, you know, I just did it. I just started writing the draft. I wrote something, and it was terrible. And then I was watching one of the behind-the-scenes things and Lucas said, 'It's like writing a haiku.' I realized as I was refining it what he meant. We didn't finish the opening crawl and totally lock it until a few weeks ago actually. Because you're like, 'Do we need this word, do we need that word, what if we shift.' It's like a poem, there's very little room for error in trying to get it just right. Which is awesome, it's really fun.

This might be the most in depth examination of Star Wars' iconic opening crawl ever. While audiences read the text and quickly move onto the action, the stakes for filmmakers are very high. The exposition provided is the film's very first impression, and nailing the opening crawl is of the upmost importance to set the film on the right trajectory.

While it might be easy to forget the exact text of each Star Wars opening crawl, they definitely succeed in setting the tone of the film. In The Force Awakens, the first line is "Luke Skywalker has vanished", which certainly brought a moment of shock to the hardcore fandom. I'm eager to see how The Last Jedi's crawl sets up the overall film, as the cast have been open about how wholly original Rian Johnson's script and vision for the film are. Additionally, how much exposition will even be necessary, considering the opening moments will likely pick up where The Force Awakens left off?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will fly into theaters on December 16th. In the meantime, check out our 2017 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.