There was a good reason for Holdo’s big moment.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has spent the better part of a month breaking down the reasons behind what stories he told and what he didn’t bring to the mix, and now he’s tackling one of the movie’s most controversial scenes.
The moment that Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo flies straight into the Supremacy as her ship jumps to hyperspace is a powerful one. It’s not what Holdo planned to do when she stayed behind to fly the Raddus, but after witnessing the First Order take out dozens of rebellion fighters on their way to Crait, it’s something like a last resort. The ship slices through the Supremacy like it’s nothing, creating a ripple effect throughout Snoke’s flag ship. For the first time in a Star Wars movie, it’s dead silent.
As incredible as it was to watch, some called the scene a plot hole. They had arguments about whether Star Wars canon allowed Holdo to pull that move (now fittingly called the “Holdo Maneuver”), and if it was possible, then how come no other character ever tried it?
On an upcoming episode of The /Filmcast, Johnson offered his own interpretation of the moment. He leaves wiggle room for future Star Wars canon tweaks, but ultimately, he saw the move as something so out of left field that nobody would expect it.
“First of all, has this been done before, period?” Johnson explained. “I’ve got to reserve the right for [Story Group member] Pablo [Hidalgo] to build it back into canon, if he’s like, ‘Yeah, this is a thing and they outlawed it.’ I think there’s various ways you can go with it. But it’s not like it was the plan to do this. It’s a spur of the moment thing. It’s this idea that she gets and she sits down and fucking does, and it obviously takes everybody completely by surprise. It takes Hux by surprise. The fact that Hux doesn’t see it coming means it’s probably not a standard military maneuver. I think it was something that Holdo pulled out of her butt in the moment.”
As Hidalgo explained earlier this month on the Star Wars Show, it’s not something any ship can do. The reason it works is that the First Order’s ship and the Raddus are both huge. If you tried to take out Snoke’s ship with a smaller one, it wouldn’t work.
The scene was a way for Johnson to show the explosion and demonstrate the extent of the destruction, but he initially had some difficulty making it come together.
“[T]he whole thing honestly didn’t click until our amazing wizards at ILM [Industrial Light & Magic] came upon the idea of that exposure shift,” Johnson added. “We had versions of it before that with just regularly lit ships, with streaks of white going through them, and it was nowhere near as impactful. It was when they showed this version of it to me that had this exposure shift, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that makes it all kind of click.’”
Johnson’s explanation might not cool down any of the debates about canon and physics, but for some fans, it clicked perfectly.
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