Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is full of incredibly dramatic and visually beautiful moments. One such moment is in the latter half of the film when, in an act of desperation, Vice Admiral Holdo turns the Resistance ship, the Raddus, into a weapon and jumps to hyperspace, bisecting Snoke's ship, the Supremacy. Like many elements in The Last Jedi, this tactic is new to Star Wars, but it turns out that the idea for it actually came from the past. The inspiration for jumping directly into a solid object in hyperspace came from something Han Solo once said. As director Rian Johnson explained:
I'm sure that a lot of fans had thought ever since Han was talking about if you don't get the calculations right you could go through a star... I always wanted to see what that would look like, and at some point, one of the guys at ILM hit upon that exposure idea of everything going silent. We were struggling with how do we make this visually impressive and when we hit on that, we loved it.
The line of dialogue Rian Johnson is referring to in his interview with Empire Online comes from A New Hope. In it, the Imperial forces are pursuing the Millennium Falcon and Luke is frustrated with how long it is taking Han to make the jump to hyperspace. Han responds saying that without precise calculations, they could fly through a star or bounce too close to a supernova. Rian Johnson took this notion and ran with it, to see what would happen if you intentionally jumped through a solid object. While there have been criticisms directed towards what Rian Johnson's film has done to Star Wars lore, it is clear that he has an appreciation for what came before. He took a small piece of dialogue from the original film and turned it into one of the key moments in his story. Vice Admiral Holdo's kamikaze move works to save The Resistance and results in one of the film's most stunning images.
This act of self-sacrifice was breathtaking as the jump to hyperspace obliterated the Supremacy and the First Order fleet. Watching this scene in the theater was incredible as all of the sound dropped out and the entire audience was left holding their breath. For some reason, this prompted temporary warnings from some theaters about the scene to assure theatergoers that there was nothing wrong with the sound system. To me, having the sound drop out was an amazing choice that created silent stillness in the audience and allowed them to completely focus on the imagery on screen. The exposure choice produced almost black-and-white images and made for a visually beautiful act of destruction.
Not all of The Last Jedi's major moments land for all fans, and that's ok. Some of the new ideas and concepts introduced in this film have been criticized as breaking Star Wars or changing the rules of the universe, and that is worthy of debate. But this moment at least calls back to something that came before. And even if the implications of introducing this tactic get hairy, it is still cool when we get something new. Vice Admiral Holdo's destruction of Snoke's ship was totally unlike anything we have ever seen in a Star Wars movie, and creativity that surprises us ought to be something we welcome. As to why no rebel X-wing pilot ever used this tactic on the Death Star, it's probably best not to think too hard about it.