Star Wars: J.J. Abrams Discusses Filming Rey’s Lightsaber Duel

This December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story may be the next Lucasfilm product scheduled to hit theaters, but the one that directly preceded it – Star Wars: The Force Awakens – is still making headlines in the news cycle. Last year’s mega blockbuster is getting a special edition 3D Blu-ray release this November, and the studio has started to promote the 4-disc set by highlighting the new bonus features that were not available on the initial home media release this spring. Just yesterday, a never before seen deleted scene of Chewbacca encountering Unkar Plutt was posted online.

Arguably the greatest selling point for the Force Awakens 3D Blu-ray is the inclusion of commentary by director J.J. Abrams. Cinephiles have long enjoyed listening to filmmakers discuss their projects, and when something as monumental as Star Wars is involved, interest increases tenfold. Lucasfilm has smartly used snippets of Abrams’ commentary in marketing materials, recently sharing a clip covering Kylo Ren’s fateful moment with Han Solo. Now, another crucial scene is examined in a new clip, which you can watch above.

Arriving courtesy of Yahoo, it features a portion of Abrams’ commentary during Rey’s lightsaber duel with Kylo Ren on Starkiller base near the end of the movie. The turning point in the conflict was Rey pausing for a moment of self-reflection, channeling the Force to gain an advantage. Abrams explained that originally, this bit was not in the final cut, replaced instead by Rey calling Kylo Ren a monster and pushing back. However, the sequence was altered during reshoots, where Abrams filmed “this incredibly internal moment” of Rey thinking back to what she learned from Maz Kanata and lets the Force come to her. This was arguably for the best, since it connected with the title of the film and ended up being emotionally powerful.

Star Wars: J.J. Abrams Discusses Filming Rey's Lightsaber Duel

Abrams also singled out a specific shot of Daisy Ridley that was added during pickups, right before Rey kicks Kylo to the ground. This came on the suggestion of Selma director Ava DuVernay, who had seen an early version of the film. According to Abrams, “She really wanted to see Daisy, in her attack on Ren, have one really cool moment.” It’s clear he is a fan of the close-up, since he closes out his thoughts by remarking, “It really connects you to her intensity.” This is a neat illustration of how filmmaking is an extremely collaborative process and great advice can come from anyone. While the one shot of Rey is only on the screen for a second, it’s hard to envision the lightsaber duel without it today.

Some fans may find this particular section fascinating, since it specifically highlights the Force Awakens reshoots. During the summer, Rogue One was plagued by negative press as rumors of the spinoff’s pickups spread like wildfire. It’s unlikely this was the case, but the release of this clip could be read as Lucasfilm showing concerned viewers that reshoots are not always bad and can add value to the finished film. Time will tell if that’ll be the case for Rogue One, but with everyone involved saying they were nothing out of the ordinary, it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now available on Blu-ray and digital. The 3D Blu-ray hits stores November 15, 2016.


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