Speculating Shot-By-Shot Through ‘The Last Jedi’ Teaser Trailer

Lucasfilm finally unveiled the first look at Star Wars: The Last Jedi with a teaser trailer presented Friday morning, at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. You know what that means! Time to speculate, break it all down and try to crack the code of what the title, The Last Jedi, really means…

In darkness, some familiar, John Williams signature strings ominously progress to…

The opening shot. Is this some desolate planet. An asteroid field perhaps?

Nope. We’re back on Ahch-To, right where we left Rey at the end of The Force Awakens.

This opening is hugely reminiscent of that first teaser for TFA from way back in 2014. In that trailer we were introduced to Finn, who popped onscreen winded, sweaty and seemingly in peril. Here, we have Rey, winded, sweaty and with an urgent, pained look on her face. Why is she so winded? The most likely cause is some heavy training with Luke, or, perhaps she’s escaping from something. A dark truth perhaps? Nah, she’s definitely training.

The Lucasfilm logo appears giving off the “welcome home” feels as a blend of John Williams’ classic ‘The Tales of a Jedi Knight/Learn about the Force’ kicks on with a little hint of ‘Rey’s Theme’ thrown in for good measure.

In darkness we hear the first words of Luke Skywalker in nearly 34 years…

“Breathe”

A gorgeous wide shot of the island of Ahch-To – actually the stunning Skellig Islands of Ireland.

Luke’s voiceover continues on an overhead shot of Ahch-To…

“Just breathe.”

Anna Nalick’s Breathe (2AM) kicks onto the soundtrack and completely throws off the groove of this whole trailer. Kidding.

Rey stands in the middle of two rock formations. Middle ground is a metaphorical motif seen throughout this trailer and the teaser poster. It’s becoming clear that the idea of a balance in the force, something long alluded to in all of Star Wars lore, may play a major role in The Last Jedi. Luke’s voiceover continues…

“Now. Reach out.”

As Luke suggests Rey “reach out” and we see these rocks begin to rise, it’s clear that this is part of Rey’s training. She is sitting criss-cross-applesauce, lightsaber at her side, and we can’t see it, but Luke is sitting in a pack on her back.

In all seriousness, I wonder if Luke is training her to simply use the Force or to wield the very specific powers and practices of the Jedi. As the title of the film suggests, the Jedi religion is in peril, but we know that Rey is quite naturally adept in using the Force. So, is Luke teaching her control for the sake of balance, or teaching her to tie her Force powers into the ways and teachings of the ancient Jedi Order? This seems to be the big thematic question going into the film.

Luke’s voiceover continues as he asks Rey…

“What do you see?”

Here we have a quick shot behind General Organa looking over the map of a star-field, no doubt ahead of the battle scenes we see later in the trailer. Notice the Mon Calamari lurking in the background?

In the background you can also hear hints of Leia’s famous line from A New Hope, “Help me Obi Wan,” echoing ominously, perhaps foreshadowing a Kenobi appearance in The Last Jedi, or, as is most likely the case, adding some familiar nostalgia to the trailer to stoke that burning fandom a little brighter.

In voiceover, Rey answers Luke’s question…

“Light.”

*On a side note, did everyone see that wonderful, tear-jerker of a tribute to Carrie Fisher at SW Celebration? If not, watch it now and grab a few tissues. “It’s an emotional trap!”

We see a crushed helmet. This is similar to the shot of Vader’s melted helmet from TFA, but note the silver details in this mask and you’ll see that this is Kylo Ren’s mask, not Vader’s. The similarity between the paths of Vader and Ren and Luke and Rey have been closely aligned thus far, so why not the trailer motif’s as well?

Here we also hear some more of that nostalgic, faint voiceover echoing with Vader’s breathing and Obi Wan whispering…

“Seduced by the Dark Side.”

Rey’s voiceover continues…

“Darkness.”

This is a shot that has a lot of people speculating. Actual honest to goodness books in the Star Wars universe? Man, Luke is such a hipster to hold onto the tangible past like that. Look closely and you can see an original pressing of The Velvet Underground & Nico in there as well.

Seriously though, what are these books? The most likely answer is that these are the Journal of the Whills, original writings of the Shaman of the Whills. Basically, an ancient religious text in the Star Wars Universe layered in the idea of reaching eternal consciousness. This, along with Luke and Rey’s voiceover in the trailer are both potentially HUGE clues about where this film is headed, and what is meant by the title; The Last Jedi. The novelization of The Force Awakens opens with an except from the Journal of the Whills

First comes the day
Then comes the night.
After the darkness
Shines through the light.
The difference, they say,
Is only made right
By the resolving of gray
Through refined Jedi sight.
―Journal of the Whills, 7:47

This idea of balance between the light and the dark makes it sound like order can only be maintained if the Jedi and the Sith, the light and the dark sides, are joined by middle-ground. The gray, Rey (coincidence?), will bring order, so Luke is teaching her not to be a Jedi, but rather, to be the great balance that the Universe needs.

Over this shot you can faintly hear what I’m guessing is Yoda saying…

“Surrounds us. Binds us.”

On this map you can clearly see the prominent symbol of the Jedi Order. This could be a remnant of Luke’s journey since Return of the Jedi, collecting various Jedi relics and writings along the way.

Rey’s voiceover continues…

“A balance.”

A gorgeous shot featuring some fun, Karate Kid style training on dangerous rock ledges.

Luke adds in voiceover…

“It’s so much bigger.”

And so begins the quick montage of cool shots that usually comes at the end of a teaser trailer. Thanks to Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, we now know that this is Crait, an uncharted mineral planet once home to an old Rebel base. Look closely on the horizon and you’ll notice some First Order Walkers approaching.

We also now know that these speeder type vehicles are called Skimmers, and they break through the crusty salt layers of Crait’s landscape causing the red, mineral rich under-layer of the planet to cloud up in a beautiful, smoky show.

Finn, healing from his Kylo Ren inflicted saber wounds at the end of TFA is spending some time in a Bacta-pod.

Poe and BB-8 run, escape perhaps, from what looks like a New Republic ship under siege.

And once again, as in the beginning of TFA, Poe and BB-8 are denied entry into their ship by a pesky explosion.

What would a Star Wars trailer be if we didn’t see the Millenium Falcon being chased, and chasing, some TIE Fighters?

Rey runs with her lightsaber in hand…

While Kylo Ren emotes some brooding saber threats of his own, new Harry Potter head scar and all.

We catch a brief glimpse of the scene from Rey’s Force Awakens vision, of Luke looking on as what appears to be a Jedi Temple or his Jedi Academy burns. This is likely a result of some Kylo Ren betrayal.

A glimpse of Captain Phasma. Fun side note, Phasma is getting her own 4-issue comic book miniseries this September from writer Kelly Thompson and artist Marco Checchetto. The miniseries will trace what happens to her post Force Awakens.

We catch an action packed look at some A-Wings and the new Mark One Starhawk’s which first appeared in Chuck Wendig’s novel; Aftermath: Life Debt.

Finally, in darkness, we see Luke in his Hobbit hole as his voiceover ominously announces…

“It’s time for the Jedi…to end.”

This also plays into something Daisy Ridley said at the Celebration panel, noting that sometimes, when you meet your heros it’s not always what you expect. Could Luke, the Jedi Master, savior of the Universe, be kind of an ass? Sounds like he might be over the whole Jedi thing. Time for some Force partisanship in the Star Wars Universe. I’m sure that’s not something the young, eager and Force adept Rey wants to hear.

I don’t know about the Jedi, but this is the point that the trailer ends.

I was bummed that we didn’t get to see Kelly Marie Tran’s new character, Rose, in the trailer. She was a big part of the panel for the film at Celebration, and it sounds like her character is a major player in the new film.

Now, I’ve heard some rumblings, griping really, from people who thought TFA was too similar to A New Hope and think The Last Jedi will serve as an Empire Strikes Back rehash. Yes, there is a white surfaced planetary battle in this trailer, complete with Walkers, like Hoth. Yes, there is some Jedi training between Luke and Rey like you saw with Yoda and Luke in Empire. But you know what? I for one am really excited to see what Rian Johnson, a visionary, original filmmaker, has in store with this latest Star Wars saga.

What did you think? Did you like the teaser? What are your theories and observations?

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Tony is a film and TV geek who lives in New England with his geek wife and three geek children, wearing the many hats of a film programmer, marketer, documentarian and writer. He's previously written about movies and TV for Starlog and Fangoria magazines, is a twice-produced Screenwriter and co-host of the Hey You Geeks and Dadawan podcasts.