Ever since I first saw Star Wars, somewhere between 1994 and 1996, it has been an intrinsic part of my DNA and so re-watching The Rise of Skywalker, and then the behind-the-scenes documentary and seeing the thought, passion, and hard work that went into it, and ultimately seeing it all come to a close, was a bittersweet, almost spiritual moment.
The Skywalker Legacy, a 2-hour documentary film, is a fascinating piece. It moves its way seamlessly through the story of the film by showing you some of what went into producing it and let me say, it’s no wonder the film cost over 275 million. The sheer amount of construction and labour was, in the words of JJ Abrams, insane! A small town was constructed in the Wadi Rum in Jordan to accommodate all the cast and crew. The intricate delicacy needed to create the tiny Babu Frik was fascinating. The massive practical sets built inside Pinewood studios for the Star Destroyer exterior were astounding. I was feeling the same inspiration that originally spurred me to seek a career in film and television.
A crew-member (I can’t remember who) made the poignant comment: film is an industry of unsung heroes. This reminded me of something said by a friend of mine who works as a lighting technician on films in Canada. He said that if he does his job right, then no one would notice that he had done anything at all. The documentary brings to light, as it were, all the little things that weren’t noticed because they were done right. The speeder chase on Pasaana, for example, features moisture evaporators in the background; these were spaced out in a very deliberate way so that you would see them properly, rather than just getting a metallic grey blur.
In a slightly earlier scene, you see baby Aki-Akis watching a puppet show and laughing. These were puppets operated by people in an underground bunker that had been constructed by labourers. Some of the people in the droid outfits were actually carrying quite a lot of weight in their highly-uncomfortable costumes and were having to walk backwards to give the droids their unique awkward gait. It’s the little things like these that just go unappreciated.
A behind-the-scenes look, like this 2-hour documentary, is important because it celebrates the major effort put in by everybody. There really is so much that The Skywalker Legacy goes into that if you love Star Wars, and if you love film, or if you are simply interested in learning how they made such a massive film, you will be satisfyingly entertained. Honestly, I can’t emphasise enough how amazing this production was. There are other small clips going into other parts of the film but they are all covered by the main documentary and in a better way.
Then there is the emotional aspect. Watching it come to an end was a strange experience, and for many of the cast and crew of the film it was the end of a big chapter of their lives. For some of them, it had been just this one film, for others it was the end of many years of work, and for some, not many, it was the end of something that had been a significant part of their life for decades. Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher (though she died before they started shooting it), and Billy Dee Williams all had their final moments in this film. And no doubt there are others who I’m forgetting. The fact that now Carrie Fisher, Kenny Baker (R2D2, episodes I–VII), and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca, episodes III-VII have
all died in the last 4 years also brings home the fact that time is moving on and things are, in many ways, ending. It felt like, as C-3PO said, taking one last look at all my friends.
Star Wars is a juggernaut of a franchise. It is a titan of cinema and its legacy is well deserved. The Rise of Skywalker wasn’t as mind-blowing as many had hoped and it fell short in many places. I certainly found myself a little underwhelmed after having seen it, but I speak honestly when I say I don’t give a damn. I adore the originals, I enjoy (and cringe a little during) the prequels, and I’ve loved these new films. The Anthologies too. Rogue One and Solo are amazing. I know Solo wasn’t as popular but I’ve liked it more ever time I’ve watched it. And The Mandalorian was just sublime. I loved The Rise of Skywalker and The Skywalker Legacy had me enthralled. They touched upon emotions and inspirations that have dwelt inside me for over two decades and I hope that watching it will stir in you the same happiness and excitement I felt.
The Force will be with you, always.
– Tim Baker