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Less than a month from now, on December 20, the four-decade Skywalker Saga will officially come to a close with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. We know this is the end of the story that began in 1977 with Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, but why is it the end? When asked this question, director J.J. Abrams revealed why The Rise of Skywalker really felt like ‘the end’ of Star Wars and the right time to close this chapter. He said:
I felt going into this, even on [Episode] VII — I don’t remember if this was discussed or not, but it felt like this was the final trilogy. It felt like it earned being the conclusion of that story. Who’s to say what comes next? Is there something else to be done that involves any of these characters? I’m working on nothing [Star Wars-related], so I’m not hinting at anything. I’m just saying, who’s to know, but it just felt like the end.
For J.J. Abrams, who as we all know was not originally supposed to direct Star Wars: Episode IX, the Sequel Trilogy has always felt like the end of Star Wars to him. Years ago, when he was making Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he never looked at it as the first part of a trilogy that would ultimately be followed by Episode X, XI and XII. This always felt like the final trilogy to him, a three-film third act to a nine-film saga.
So when J.J. Abrams was working on The Force Awakens, he saw it as the beginning of the end. Now working on The Rise of Skywalker, he has reached that end that he felt like Star Wars was heading towards. And in J.J. Abrams' mind, the time is right for the Skywalker Saga to conclude.
As the director told Rolling Stone, he believes that the Star Wars story has earned the right to end and this Sequel Trilogy has earned the right be the concluding chapter in it. To J.J. Abrams, it feels like the right time to wrap up this story and the arcs of these characters that he and countless fans around the world have grown to love since 1977.
Although The Rise of Skywalker feels like the end of Star Wars to him and the end of the journey for its characters, J.J. Abrams concedes that he doesn’t know what comes next and what the future holds for Star Wars. There’s always the possibility for more stories with these characters somewhere down the line, so it’s not impossible that this final chapter could wind up with an epilogue, but as far as J.J. Abrams is concerned, this feels like the finish line.
However, as Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus once said, “There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” So although J.J. Abrams really felt like The Rise of Skywalker was the end of Star Wars, delivering a satisfying ending is no easy thing. Expounding on the challenge of that, J.J. Abrams said:
It’s an ending. It’s not a beginning. It’s the end of not just one trilogy but three. It’s a far larger movie in terms of scale. Narratively, there’s much more going on everywhere I look — visual effects, more moving pieces. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever been involved in. By a lot. It’s been breakneck from the time that Kathy called me, and trying to figure out the what and the why and the how has been challenging. But you don’t want to go thinking, ‘I got this.’ Because then you’re screwed.
Wow, no pressure there. It has often been said that J.J. Abrams is great at starting things, but not necessarily as strong at finishing them. Here he acknowledges that ending something like Star Wars’ Skywalker Saga is incredibly difficult. He’s not planting new seeds for future movies, so he has to wrangle all the weeds from eight other films into something presentable in this movie.
J.J. Abrams has talked about wanting The Rise of Skywalker to be a cohesive ending, and he reiterates that point here. To him, this ending is not just the ending of the Sequel Trilogy he started in 2015, nor is it just the ending of the iconic Original Trilogy that started it all. It’s an ending to everything, including George Lucas’ loved and loathed Prequel Trilogy. That’s a lot of responsibility and a lot to take into account.
The director admits as much, saying how much narrative ground this film has to cover and how many moving pieces are involved. On a technical level, it’s been challenging too, with the amount of visual effects. Then you add in the fact that J.J. Abrams wasn’t supposed to direct Episode IX, which put this daunting task on a constrained timetable and it looks positively overwhelming.
J.J. Abrams, who has directed multiple blockbusters in his career, including Star Wars, admits that The Rise of Skywalker is the most challenging thing he’s ever done by a wide margin. He followed Han Solo’s advice to not get cocky and remained humble during the process of bringing about the Skywalker Saga’s end. With any luck, he was up to the task and delivers a satisfying film that brings closure to the Skywalker Saga and lives up to that legacy.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker blasts into theaters on December 20. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see what other movies you can look forward to this year.