Who is Rey? What is Rey?
Should we believe the vision of Kylo Ren, that his parents were nobodies living thanks to the scrap metal in Jakku? I think that The Last Jedi is a fabulous movie as it was told, but I’m sure we’ll still have many surprises.
It’s curious that one of the first things J.J. Abrams wrote in his first tweet in the social network of the little blue bird, the first day of shooting of Episode IX, was to thank two people for their work in Star Wars. One, of course, was George Lucas. The other, and it was quite a statement of intent, was Rian Johnson.
On the one hand, we know that Abrams was criticized for being overly conservative with the story of The Force Awakens. Not that he was the only screenwriter. But he was the director, and you know how these things work. (For me, above all other considerations, Episode VII is a brilliant, funny movie, with unique moments and sequences that stay etched forever in the memory – pure Star Wars). The case is that Abrams always had in mind those criticisms (and almost a mere anecdote after the uproar mounted by a minority but very noisy section of the fandom of the saga with The Last Jedi) and these affected him enough to have promised to the fans, more or less during the dates that the film of Rian Johnson was released, that the last film of the saga would be original and groundbreaking. We could ask what was left of that intention, after seeing the, not for regrettable less predictable, reaction of the most recalcitrant fans, to the decisions of Rian Johnson who knew how to endow The Last Jedi with details never seen before in Star Wars. (Details, in any case, trees that prevented many from seeing the forest).
Regardless of whether I think these details were brilliant, and that they only strengthened what Star Wars really is (which all the most disgruntled fans would love to see turned into a set of lifeless clichés: a documentary swatch) , the script of the film was already finished, finally, when Abrams declared those intentions. So if he said that Episode IX, compared to VII, would be more original and surprising, it will be. The die is cast. Right now, so quietly that we’ve almost forgotten, Abrams, his team and the actors are busy giving life to the script written by him and Chris Terrio, in which emotions, laughter and tears, adventures, places and situations that we like so much to imagine, were already planned.
And here we return to the question that I was asking above. To what extent does something special, or a declaration of intentions, expressly mention, after all the controversy generated by Episode VIII, Rian Johnson in the first tweet. Well, to begin with it is a decision that implies honesty and courage. But I must also say that I expected no less from him. Rian Johnson did nothing but tell what happened from some parameters in the story that were already there. Most of the things that have been criticized to Rian Johnson occur by decisions that others took before him. With Rian, the story has continued to evolve reminiscent of the original trilogy, but also with new elements, and knowing how to make, with a few sentences, that the prequel trilogy be also a fundamental part of everything that is told to us.
And it’s another of the things Abrams said late last year, that Episode IX would lead to the story arc to support the building of the three trilogies, original, prequels and sequels, making a great and unique story.
Well, well, yes… but … Who is Rey?
Although the answer may rather have to do with what it is.
We know that one of the ways in which Johnson did not end up turning the sequels into a mere repetition of the structures of the original trilogy, so that Episodes IV to VI have been used as a formal model, but not fundamental, was undressing Rey of his aura of mythical character, to make her normal. One more citizen of the galaxy. This desire for originality, which has as much to do with turning the supreme leader Snoke into a dispensable character (thus aggrandizing the importance of Kylo Ren, while avoiding turning the sequels into a vulgar copy of the originals), has to see it from a broader perspective, in which the boss is the story. That is, the desire is fine, but this is Star Wars, and although Johnson has somehow wanted to put some dykes and channel story to take it along more original paths, I believe that in the end the irrepressible waters will knock down those dams, and the story will return to run at ease through the path of the hero. And the truth is that I think Johnson has done this knowing what he was doing, and that the news that so few have liked are more… really… cosmetic.
So, this is not what I just wrote a negative critique of Rian Johnson. On the contrary, I think that in the central episode, in a way always the most complicated to do satisfactorily, he has been able to provide the story with all the elements we needed to continue dreaming of whatever the outcome might bring. And he made it brilliantly, breaking with many clichés, and, paradoxically, and despite the kicks of a part of the fandom, revitalizing Star Wars so it can be more Star Wars than ever.
In this regard, it may very well be that Kylo Ren’s vision of Rey’s parents has been false. Not that he lied. Rian Johnson has said quite clearly that when he wrote that part of the script he did it knowing that Kylo was convinced he was telling the truth. What he had seen in Rey. But either in that vision Kylo was deceived, or, and without a doubt the latter would be the most original, Rey’s parents were, in fact, scrap dealers. But, would this make it impossible to travel in the script of Episode IX for an argument where we discover things that will undoubtedly knock us down about Rey, when we see the movie?
If I brought it up at the beginning, maybe giving it an importance that it does not have, Abrams’ express thanks to Johnson, it’s because I thought that with it Abrams could be in a way apologizing to Johnson for not respecting his dams.
And we might think that the breach of the dam has been encouraged by Disney, to the alarm generated by the furious and exacerbated criticism of (I insist, a minority, although the noisiest) the community of followers of Star Wars. But the truth is that I don’t believe it. The script of Episode IX was already written when The Last Jedi was released. The clumsiness on the part of Disney to bad programming and to promote worse the stupendous film of Han Solo, as well as the little moral and intellectual baggage of the most critical fans with Rian Johnson, little has to do with the form in which this story is being developed of the aftermath, which in a way for a long time now took on a life of its own.
And in that story the character that shines brightest, perhaps more than any that we have ever known in the saga, is Rey.
The first image we have of her is a statement of intent by Abrams. A close-up, masked, with glasses very similar to Kylo Ren’s helmet visor. The beginning of a game, a dance between light and darkness, with steps changed sometimes, in which at times one enters the terrain of the other, and the other, also, although in a more subtle way, on the ground of her.
She is a young self-made woman, with surprising physical and moral strength, capable of surviving alone in a remote and hostile world. It is a sort of quixotic misadventor, always dreaming of an impossible world; something that gives her the necessary strength to face her reality.
The first time we see to Rey on an exterior, she is framed by the giant nozzle of a star destroyer, which seems to evoke the gigantic entrance arch of a cathedral, as if telling us that Rey is something sacred.
In good movies, nothing is accidental.
A shallow and limited vision of The Force Awakens will make us lose all its details and subtleties, and we will not understand it; in the end we will leave the cinema saying the typical phrase: “But, how she, without training in the Force or in combat, is going to beat him. ” Well, forgetting that behind phrases like this there is much of a way of seeing the world anchored in obsolete paradigms, the truth is that it is obvious why Rey defeats Ren in the snowy forest of the Starkiller.
On the planet Takodana, where Han leads Rey and Finn to find a safe ship with the help of Maz Kanata, Rey meets Luke and Anakin’s lightsaber. Being like she is someone special, who has always had strange visions and dreams, and an unknown power (the Force) inside her (which is why, for example, it is so easy to convince her fellow junkie to leave in peace to the droid BB8 in the sands of Jakku), to come into contact with that object is something that produces in her a jolt in which she experiences new visions like never before, not in dreams, but in full consciousness.
It is at that moment when Maz Kanata finds her, feeling something strange in the girl, and tells her one thing that will be essential to beat Ren at the end (and in which the light viewing of the movie doesn’t repair). She speaks to Rey of the Force, for the first time, as something that is no longer mythical, but she can experience herself. She tells her to close his eyes and feel the Force.
Then, in the fight against Ren in the Starkiller, he is about to kill her. And if he doesn’t, it’s because he already loves her. He Feel a desperate attraction towards her. Towards the light and darkness that she carries with her. And at the same time he sees in her someone with an unhappy childhood. To an equal. That is why Ren is making his plans at will, in the face of General Hux’s outrage, at the stroke of what he feels. That’s why he’ll kill Snoke, too.
Ren’s weakness can be justified by his wounds, both the physical one, the shooting of the crossbow of Chewie, and the one that almost split his spirit when killing his father. But it is his incipient love for Rey that truly prevents him from killing her the moment he can. When finally she is cornered he speaks of the Force, and that is when the words of Maz Kanata return to Rey clearly: “close your eyes and feel the Force”. And that she does. He observes her in wonder and hope, but it’s too late for his purpose. She is an unparalleled power that may make Anakin Skywalker himself pale, although none of that we know yet, but we suspect. And Ren is broken.
But let’s go back, to the moment in which Ren listens to the mind of Rey in his ship, where he has her imprisoned. He has begun to guess since she is special, but doesn’t know to what extent. At first, sure of the superiority of his power over her, he is at ease in her mind, and discovers visions that she has in her dreams. An ocean, and an island. They don´t know, neither of them, but there’s Luke. Later, in Episode VIII, she will tell Luke that she has dreamed of that island. She is inextricably linked to the Force.
Rian Johnson, in fact, has never stopped knowing that Rey is something very special. He has only wanted to avoid discovering it by a path already traveled before.
When Kylo listens to Rey in his ship, he teaches her, without intending it (she can only access the power of the Force, which doesn’t know what it is or how it manifests, by intuition, but it is very vast inside of her/it), certain mechanisms of the Force. The auscultation of a mind, if it is not done carefully (we guess easily), if it is not done against someone weak in the Force, can bring very dangerous consequences. Ren did not imagine finding such power within her. We can almost feel it, through the sound and gestures of the scrap dealer: Rey roars, literally. She is a kind of monster, deep down. Finally he escapes with his tail between his legs, trembling. She thinks that he is afraid of not becoming like Darth Vader. But the truth is that, although that is true, the fear of him is, at that moment especially, to her. (And all this also explains, of course, how she intuits how to enforce the soldier of assault his will, influencing his mind).
If we now jump to VIII, when both are intertwined through the Force by Snoke’s powers, we continue to see the parallels of the dance of opposing elements. So it is in the scene that when they communicate, sparks of fire fall to the left of Ren, and drops of water to the left of Rey. But it is he who is most imbued with it. It is he who feels the water in his glove.
That is the second time they intertwine in The Last Jedi. The first time the meeting is still a continuation of the conflict they were fighting in the Starkiller forest. They have very fresh sensations, fear, hatred, attraction … (not in vain these two episodes happen without any ellipsis). That’s why he orders her, first of all, to take him to Luke. But she responds instinctively as she did when Kylo Ren tried to listen her mind the first time. We see her again making that kind of roar … and he then recoils in an ostensible way, almost covering himself. He is afraid. But at the same time he feels more and more attracted to her.
She is powerful, very, very much; but inexperienced and naive. She herself is manipulated by the interests of Snoke, who at that time serve both. Therefore, because of her own fear, because she begins to feel reciprocally the need of the other that until then had only felt Ren, she attacks to Luke, although she is not far so evil, but a pure and untamed, and naive. But she doesn’t have the will to do evil, as Ren has, lost to the cause of light since he chose to kill his father.
I could go on, but I think that’s enough. There are so many ways to solve all the issues and conflicts raised, which overflow the spirit of the whole saga on all four sides, that I particularly find it difficult to imagine how they will solve everything in one more film, however long it may be. Is Rey’s love what redeems Kylo Ren, bringing Ben Solo back? Will one of the two be transformed, irretrievably, into something new? Maybe both? Will Kylo Ren die? Or Rey? Is she going to the dark side?
I don’t know how they will do it, but I don’t doubt that they will know how to do it. Just as George Lucas knew how to do it in The Return of the Jedi. Although to understand the true dimension of the drama of Luke and Anakin Skywalker it was necessary to see the original trilogy through the prism of the prequel trilogy, which formally though surely are the less brilliant films of the saga, are, for me, for the value they have of making the original trilogy seen from a new perspective (more integral, complete and profound), true masterpieces. Because I don´t believe in what others say, nor in what the critics say. Not about films and stories, I only let myself be carried away by the things that I feel. And for those same things I know that the sequels will also be part of that mastery.