Star Wars nerds: start adding these titles to your Must See list.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson has a reputation of being very open about the specific films he watches before making each of his movies, giving insight into his influences. A lot of directors may share a watch list with their cast and crew, but Johnson has a habit of making them public as well.
- Twelve O’Clock High (1949)
- Three Outlaw Samurai (1964)
- To Catch a Thief (1955)
(More influences listed below)
A WWII movie, a Japanese action movie, and…a Hitchcock suspense/romance?! The first two are easy to understand based on their genres. Plus, similar films also originally influenced George Lucas.
But To Catch a Thief – which starred Cary Grant and Grace Kelly – is an intriguing surprise. Johnson qualifies the choice by saying he watched it “for the romantic scale and grandeur.” Hmmmm…
Here are a couple of pull-quotes from the Empire article:
- “Twelve O’Clock High was a big touchstone, for the feel and look of the aerial combat as well as the dynamic between the pilots. Three Outlaw Samurai for the feel of the sword-fighting, and the general sense of pulpy fun. And To Catch A Thief was a great film to rewatch, for the romantic scale and grandeur.”
And, regrading dialogue:
- “I found myself constantly wanting to push modern idioms into the dialogue, and sometimes that can work, but you have to be very careful. If you go too far you can break that Star Wars spell. The other challenge is the tech talk, which has to be simultaneously complex enough to sound real and conceptually simple enough to follow. The original films were brilliant at that.”
It’d probably be unwise to read too much into the plots of these films. Rather, Johnson is likely inspired by their tone, visual language, and so on. That, in itself, makes watching these films worthwhile.
Other films Johnson has previously cited as Episode VII influences:
- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
- Gunga Din (1939)
- Sahara (1943)
- Letter Never Sent (1960)