While writer/director Rian Johnson and the Star Wars: The Last Jedi team managed to keep plot details under wraps during Vanity Fair's set visit, there were some choice details revealed. Writer David Kamp wrote what will VF billed as 'the definitive preview,' and along with the gorgeous photos by Annie Leibovitz, you'd be hard pressed to argue the claim. Of the details that Kamp managed to get out of Johnson and the rest of the Last Jedi folks he interviewed, the one that struck us the most was about the city Canto Bight.
If there was a scene in the very first Star Wars that could be credited with being the definitive moment when you thought to yourself, "this is different," it would have to be the Mos Eisley cantina scene. Not only was it a crucial moment in the franchise's mega-narrative (it's when Luke and Obi-Wan meet Han Solo), it also captured the imagination of millions of people for being so deliriously odd. A rag-tag assortment of bizarre alien races drinking at a bar? An alien band called, wait for it, Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes? The fact that droids aren't allowed inside, indicating that this place, located in a pirate city, is not some open-minded wine bar (not that they had wine bars back then), but a place where bruisers, thieves, and, of course, smugglers hang out? Yeah, it all worked. The threat of violence, the colorful array of alien races (the pig-faced alien, the wolf-faced alien, an alien named Bom Vimdin whose alias is Don Rickles), and the way that Lucas played it straight has made this an iconic scene in the Star Wars franchise, one that many of the films that have followed it have tried to replicate in way or another (recall the scene in The Force Awakens when Han, Rey, BB-8 and Finn meet Maz Kanata at her tavern). The brilliance of the scene is its' simplicity; never before have we watched aliens and other assorted creatures in a sci-fi film enjoy themselves. We've never seen what aliens do in their time off. Watching them drink, gamble, shout, and, because the catina is a very rough place, fight and die, was an oddly thrilling thing to behold.
For The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson has come up with what could be a brilliant way to give us what we all crave—watching aliens in their time off, drinking and cavorting—but flipping the Mos Eisley Cantina scene on its head. As Kamp found out, there will be a significant scene on the planet of Canto Bight that takes place in a casino populated by wealthy, upscale aliens, the polar opposite of Mos Eisley's run down, sand blasted dive bar. Here's Kamp on Jonhnson's revelation, which he calls "A glitterin casino city.":
"A Star Wars Monte Carlo–type environment, a little James Bond–ish, a little To Catch a Thief,” the director said. “It was an interesting challenge, portraying luxury and wealth in this universe.” So much of the Star Wars aesthetic is rooted in sandy desolation and scrapyard blight; it appealed to Johnson to carve out a corner of the galaxy that is the complete opposite. “I was thinking, O.K., let’s go ultra-glamour. Let’s create a playground, basically, for rich assholes,” he said.
Canto Bight is also where viewers will get their multi-species fix of gnarled aliens and other grotesque creatures, a comic-relief staple of Star Wars movies since Luke Skywalker first met Han Solo amid the cankerous and snouty inhabitants of the Mos Eisley cantina. The Last Jedi is dark enough as it is, so Johnson has made a point of infusing the movie with levity. “I didn’t want this to be a dirge, a heavy-osity movie,” he said. “So one thing I’ve tried really hard to do is keep the humor in there, to maintain the feeling, amid all the heavy operatic moments, that you’re on a fun ride.”
It should be noted the characters who travel to Canto Bight are Finn (John Boyega), the former Stormtrooper, and Rose, a new character played by Kelly Marie Tran. Finn is pretty much a fish out of water everywhere he goes, thanks to spending his life behind the white mask of a Stormtrooper, following orders like a droid. This will make him our surrogate, wide-eyed and full of wonder as he moves through this alien casino city, one not for brawlers but, as Johnson puts it, "rich a**holes." We can't wait.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens on December 15.