STACK got a sneak preview of the new feature-length Star Wars documentary, The Skywalker Legacy, included on the home entertainment releases of The Rise of Skywalker – and we have a good feeling about this…
Star Wars fans still mourning the end of the Skywalker dynasty with the conclusion of the nine-film saga can now revisit their favourite Jedi warriors of the past 43 years.
The Skywalker Legacy, a two-hour documentary available exclusively with the home entertainment launch of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, takes a nostalgic look behind the scenes of a galaxy far, far away.
From The UK’s Pinewood Studios to the deserts of Abu Dhabi and Jordan, we watch the cast through its various iterations, focusing fondly on the legacy left by Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, and the new generation portrayed by Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac.
A youthful Fisher, dressed in full Princess Leia costume, tells the camera how she’s envious of her screen alter ego, wishing she had Leia’s confidence. Of course Fisher would go on to become a fierce and powerful woman in her own right until her untimely death in December 2016.
Early behind-the-scenes footage of the late actress is an obvious tear-jerker, although it’s a testament to how beloved Fisher has become in that we almost feel misty-eyed as we watch her rehearse for a final scene.
Even more poignant are the scenes where Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, reprises her character of Lieutenant Connix alongside a digital recreation of her mother. “It’s a bit like my life,” says Lourd. “Things have fallen apart but we’re still here. This was a perfect scene for me to do.”
Where the previous two films of the recent trilogy focused on Han and Luke, respectively, this third film was always conceived as a celebration of Leia. It’s impossible to argue with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy when she praises George Lucas for “creating one of the most feisty characters in cinema” in Leia.
Anthony Daniels provides light relief – as he has done so over the entire 43 years he has portrayed C-3PO – chatting about his shiny gold costume in that inimitable voice.
“C-3PO would be much happier at the opera serving hors d’oeuvres,” teases Mark Hamill.
J.J. Abrams points out how C-3PO has always been the “observer of all things and keeper of the story,” leading to the recent storyline of C-3PO losing his memory.
Stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart marvels at how Adam Driver always insists on doing his stunts, and we see a bare-chested Driver rippling some fine muscle.
Ridley, too, is a surprise, doing many of her own stunts as we watch her, strapped in a harness, take giant leaps off a ramp and performing aerial acrobatics across the desert.
Throughout the documentary we see Joonas Suotamo strolling about the set, oftentimes without his Chewbacca costume, but with his eyes heavily coated in black make-up, panda-style, ready to slip into his Wookiee fur.
As filmmakers discuss the “heart of darkness” element to Rey’s journey in The Rise of Skywalker, we see veteran actor Ian McDairmid getting into full creepy white make-up, reprising his role as Emperor Palpatine. Beneath the scary voice, we discover he’s just a sweetie at heart.
For many fans, the raising of Hamill’s downed X-Wing fighter for Ridley’s Rey was an emotional passing on of the torch. Hamill talks affectionately about the return of his trusty starfighter. “It’s always been a symbol of optimism that you can accomplish anything you want if you are willing to do it for the greater good.”
For Ridley, the experience has been unforgettable, describing it as both “amazing and terrifying”, confessing to crippling claustrophobia during the quicksand scenes.
None of the cast want to leave as the long shoot of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker draws to a conclusion, Abrams likening the experience to “being with a family who you love and then your kids go away when it ends.”
Four decades earlier, a youthful Hamill expresses the same sentiment, “It’s like being a boy in your senior year at school – you’re glad that you’re finishing but you’re also savouring every moment.”