‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: The Scene J.J. Abrams Regrets
Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Force Awakens!
With nearly universal acclaim from the critics and a box office take that rivals the GDP of a small country, there’s no question that the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a blockbuster hit. That being said, any movie – no matter how successful – will never please everyone and even the best movies are bound to have a few flaws (just look up your favorite movie on IMDb and find the “Goofs” section). Heck, we named Star Wars: The Force Awakens as one of the best movies of 2015, and even we felt it had a few problems.
However, one issue even we missed was Leia’s so-called “Chewie diss” after Han Solo’s death at the hands of Kylo Ren. In case you also missed the scene in question, here’s what happened: After Han Solo’s death, Rey, Finn, and Chewbacca escape from Starkiller Base and return to the Resistance stronghold on D’Qar. There they are greeted by General Leia Organa, who is understandably devastated by the murder of Solo. However, instead of sharing her grief with Chewbacca (Han Solo’s best friend and co-pilot), she instead hugs Rey, a person who — at this point in the saga — is a complete stranger to her. Damn! What gives Leia? Could this be another example of Leia’s prejudice against hirsute life forms? (In case you’ve forgotten, check out the clip below.) Or was Leia’s hug a subtle signal that Rey is a Skywalker?
Actually, as director J.J. Abrams recently explained to SlashFilm, Leia’s “hug snub” can be attributed to much more mundane reasons: the positioning of the characters in that particular shot.
That was probably one of the mistakes I made in that. My thinking at the time was that Chewbacca, despite the pain he was feeling, was focused on trying to save Finn and getting him taken care of. So I tried to have Chewbacca go off with him and focus on Rey, and then have Rey find Leia and Leia find Rey. The idea being that both of them being strong with the Force and never having met, would know about each other — that Leia would have been told about her beyond what we saw onscreen and Rey of course would have learned about Leia. And that reunion would be a meeting and a reunion all in one, and a sort of commiseration of their mutual loss… Had Chewbacca not been where he was, you probably wouldn’t have thought of it. But because he was right there, passed by Leia, it felt almost like a slight, which was definitely not the intention.
Well, that makes sense. Obviously, there’s no time for hugs when you’re trying to get medical attention for a wounded ex-stormtrooper. No offense intended to Wookiees in general, or to Chewbacca in particular. On the other hand, we still haven’t gotten a good explanation for that medal oversight.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the significance of this scene from Star Wars: A New Hope, here’s the background story: After successfully blowing up the Death Star, Luke and Han Solo were bestowed with medals in a ceremony overseen by then-Princess Leia. And in case you’re unfamiliar with Wookiee facial expressions, Chewbacca is wearing one that says, “Where’s my medal and why I am standing up here if I’m not getting one?”
Just to be clear, Chewbacca was piloting the Millennium Falcon alongside Han Solo when they both risked their lives to protect Luke from Darth Vader so he could destroy the Death Star. Fortunately, this oversight was corrected years later, when Leia (Carrie Fisher) gave Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) a lifetime achievement award at the 1997 MTV movie awards (see below).
J.J. Abrams’ explanation of the “Leia hug” scene wasn’t the only behind-the-scenes information about The Force Awakens to emerge since its theatrical release. The director revealed several other secrets on the 3D collector’s edition Blu-ray of The Force Awakens. Keep reading to learn about four more secrets about the film.
Additional reporting by Robert Yaniz Jr.
1. Rey’s Force vision almost featured Luke
Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) Force vision at Maz Kanata’s bar is loaded with all kinds of Easter eggs relating to the saga’s monstrous mythology. It includes voice cameos by Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi as well as flashbacks to Rey’s own childhood. However, there’s also a brief visual reference to Luke’s climactic battle with Vader in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, though neither character is seen.
In an earlier version of the vision, moviegoers would have seen that fight from Rey’s perspective, but that decision — one of many explored ideas for that sequence that didn’t wind up in the final film — was ultimately scrapped so that the film could center more on Rey’s own journey instead of revisiting familiar characters for nostalgia’s sake.
2. Unkar Plutt faced Chewbacca’s wrath
One of the most memorable lines in Star Wars: A New Hope happens during a heated game between Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker). Frustrated that he’s losing, Chewbacca begins to grow angry and impatient, prompting C-3PO to instruct R2 to “let the Wookiee win.” Not a bad piece of advice, considering their tendency to rip arms out of sockets for a lot less. That’s a word of caution that Unkar Plutt (Simon Pegg) should have heeded.
In a deleted scene, Unkar Plutt and Chewbacca cross paths, and the results are none too good for the former. Having tracked Rey to Maz Kanata’s castle, Unkar Plutt confronts her but finds himself on the wrong end of a dispute with Chewbacca instead.
3. Rey’s Force-channeling moment
One of the most powerful moments in the climactic lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is when Rey takes a moment to meditate and reach into the Force to tap into her power. It’s the beat that turns the tide of the fight, but according to Abrams, it almost never happened. Instead, the fight was once more free flowing. Yet, it felt like something was missing, and Selma director Ava DuVernay suggested giving Rey a heroic moment.
Not only does this brief character moment make Rey that much more of a strong hero, but it adds more depth to her spiritual awakening and her own connection with the Force. In short, it makes the fight more focused and more personal for Rey.
4. Kylo Ren feels trapped beside Snoke
It’s a spoiler for those of you who still haven’t seen The Force Awakens, but the tragic death of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) at the hands of his own son is among the most heart-wrenching scenes in the entire saga to date. Anyone who believes that Kylo Ren was simply biding his time in his chat with Han may wish to check out Abrams’s commentary. In fact, Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo is actually attempting to distance himself from his family, feeling as if he has gone too far in his mission to support Snoke.
Additional reporting by Robert Yaniz Jr.
All movie cast, crew, and awards information courtesy of IMDb.
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