Among Variety’s writeup of the 12 movie and TV premieres garnering the most buzz at South by Southwest is The Director and the Jedi, a behind-the-scenes documentary from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. While the doc is centered on Rian Johnson’s experience writing and directing the film, there’s an extremely personal dimension that we already know is going to give us all the feels: the cast and the crew grappling with Carrie Fisher’s passing in late 2016.
The documentary was initially announced in late February, as one of many bonus features on the Last Jedi home release. The official summary makes it seem as if director Anthony Wonke and the others behind the feature were aware of the polarizing response to The Last Jedi:
An intimate documentary delving into Rian Johnson’s process as he comes in as a director new to the Star Wars universe. A fan since childhood, he sets out to make the most powerful Star Wars movie he can. Navigating the mammoth production, the scale of which he’s never directed before, we meet his cast and crew, see their individual challenges in bringing the film together, say goodbye to Carrie Fisher, and explore the significance of Rian’s more surprising decisions.
The documentary gives you a view of what it really was like to make The Last Jedi. As the team strive to do their best, what shines through is their passion and how memorable an experience it is for Rian as director.
At the time, Johnson expounded on the project, explaining how Wonke’s approach made for a much more immersive experience than other documentaries:
YESSSS! We had @anthonywonke & his crew on set every day, we were always radio mic’d up. This isn’t talking heads & b-roll, it really gets into process & captures what the shoot felt like. Excited to see it with a crowd… https://t.co/3lkPkDRPnP
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) February 22, 2018
As opposed to a short behind-the-scenes video, The Director and the Jedi clocks in at 1 hour 35 minutes, providing an in-depth take on the making of Episode VIII. Writing for Variety, Joe Leydon predicts that its premiere will be an emotional one:
“The Director and the Jedi”
“The Last Jedi” was originally designed as a farewell to only one of the major players in the long-running “Star Wars” franchise. Anthony Wonke’s behind-the-scenes documentary will no doubt deeply affect attendees at its SXSW world premiere screening as it details how the “Last Jedi” cast and crew responded to a tragic twist of fate: Carrie Fisher, aka Princess Leia, died shortly after completing her scenes for “Episode VIII.” But the film promises to be less a eulogy than an adventure as it focuses on the dream-come-true experiences of director Rian Johnson, an unabashed “Star Wars” geek since childhood who took control — and, yes, took some chances — in the course of continuing the saga that began a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. – J.L.
We’re curious to find out if Fisher’s passing reshaped the narrative of the documentary at all, or if it will be just one facet of the story. With Johnson’s mention of mic’ing up the cast and crew, of being so much more in their heads and in their process, we imagine that it will make for a much more intimate experience of that loss.
More information about the film’s SXSW screening. If you’re not attending SXSW, don’t despair—The Last Jedi will be available in digital format (in HD and 4K Ultra HD) and via Movies Anywhere on March 13, and on Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and On-Demand on March 27. In the meantime, enjoy this behind-the-scenes video from The Last Jedi and a moving tribute to Carrie Fisher: