Now that the first impressions of Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi are out—and they’re overwhelmingly, thrillingly positive—we can breathe a sigh of relief (and jack up our expectations even higher) and calmly prepare for the film’s December 15 premiere. Just kidding. All of these gushing tweets about how incredible The Last Jedi is has us, as it likely will have you, counting down the hours until we’re in the theater ourselves.
While we wait, we can enjoy what’s on offer from Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Studios, which today includes this intriguing new video about the new worlds we’ll be visiting in The Last Jedi, and the incredible real life locations that The Last Jedi’s art department transformed into distance planets and exotic, alien cities. Johnson’s team included Oscar-winning production designer Rick Heinrichs, who says the scale of The Last Jedi dwarfs anything he’s done in his long, stellar career. Considering The Last Jedi will send our heroes and villains all across the galaxy (compared to The Force Awakens, which was a relatively more localized affair), it makes sense that Johnson and his team filmed in locations all over our own miraculous little planet in effort to transform our cities, deserts and islands into Star Wars worlds.
Those worlds include the casino city Canto Bight, which was partly filmed on location in Dubrovnik, Croatia (which also doubles as King’s Landing in Game of Thrones), where they filmed an action set-piece that included speeders being smashed and flipped on the streets. As you’ll see, much of this was done using practical effects.
Another new world is Crait, which was shot on the Bolivian salt flats of Salar De Uyni, where a major battle takes place. The image of ships scorching inches above the desert, see in our featured photo above, kicking up clouds of red dust is striking, to say the least.
Then there’s Ahch-To, which we glimpsed at the very end of The Force Awakens. This is the rocky, barren planet where Luke has been in exile, and which was filmed on the gorgeous Skellig Michael off the coast of Ireland. Yes, this is the home of the porgs, as well as the Caretakers, and its’ where Rey will likely get her training from Luke.
The use of real locations and practical effects has long been a staple of the Star Wars universe—it grounds the other-worldly franchise and gives even its’ most fantastical elements and far off planets the crucial, lived-in sense of being part of reality. A crazy, alien-filled reality, but reality nonetheless. Those folks who have seen The Last Jedi are raving about how the film takes us to places no previous Star Wars has ventured—in this video, you’ll see some of the very real locations that they used to pull it off.
Featured image: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The planet Crait Photo: Film Frames Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm ©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.