What we learned about The Rise of Skywalker from Vanity Fair

Per usual, the Vanity Fair story on the upcoming Star Wars film – The Rise of Skywalker, the final episode of “the Skywalker saga,” the grand finale of all three trilogies, etc. – was chock full of information. Granted, most of it’s peicemeal, but that’s where we tiny fan blogs live, isn’t it? Let’s dig in.

When? First of all, this is our first real confirmation that the film begins about a year after the end of The Last Jedi.

The desert planet we see in the trailer, filmed in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert, is yet another entry in the already long list of desert planets in the galaxy farm far away: Pasaana. The natives are Aki-Aki. But it might not just be a desert planet: Another VF article says the orbaks – the horse/yak creatures pictured being ridden by Jannah and Finn – are from that planet as well.

The Knights of Ren will appear! In sunlight, even.

Keri Russell is playing the “masked scoundrel” Zorii Bliss, and her photo also reveals “the Thieves’ Quarter of the snow-dusted world Kijimi.” This, together with a brief shot of a world that might be Kijimi in last month’s trailer, have birthed another Rey parentage theory.

We will learn more about the origins of the First Order! For now, we know Richard E. Grant’s character is “Allegiant General Pryde.” What is an “Allegiant General?” He’s pictured with Hux, which begs the question: Is he Hux’s new boss? He does have a pretty neat uniform.

Naomi Ackie can say “literally nothing” about her character, Jannah, but a photo shows her and Finn riding new horse-like creatures, orbaks.

C-3P0’s first line involves the term “common emblem,” Anthony Daniels revealed. He also said that Threepio “does something in this movie that surprises everybody.” He certainly seems to be going out with a bang.

Abrams addresses the loss of Carrie Fisher, and writing around old footage. Leia will share scenes with Billie Lourd’s Lieutenant Connix, even though Abrams originally didn’t include her in case it was too painful for the actress. “And so, there are moments where they’re talking; there are moments where they’re touching,” Abrams says. “There are moments in this movie where Carrie is there, and I really do feel there is an element of the uncanny, spiritual, you know, classic Carrie, that it would have happened this way, because somehow it worked. And I never thought it would.”

Reylo? Adam Driver: “And then he had been forging this maybe-bond with Rey, and it kind of ends with the question in the air: is he going to pursue that relationship, or when the door of her ship goes up, does that also close that camaraderie that they were maybe forming?”

He also addressed the pressure of expectations placed on Ben Solo, as his parent’s son: “How do you understand the weight of that? And if there’s no one around you guiding you, or articulating things the right way … it can easily go awry.”

We also see Kylo and Rey fighting in the rain, which – based on images in the behind-the-scenes video – people are speculating takes place in the ruins of the Death Star.

Rey “progressed in her training since the end of The Last Jedi to the point where it’s almost complete,” per sources. The shot at the beginning of the teaser is “quite a good visual representation of where she is now,” Daisy Ridley says. “Confident, calm, less fearful.… It’s still sort of overwhelming, but in a different way. It feels more right—less like inevitable and more like there’s a focus to the journey.”

Finn is committed to the Resistance now. “I think he’s just an active member of the Resistance now,” John Boyega says. “Episode Eight, he couldn’t decide what team he was fighting for. But since then he’s made a clear decision.”

Poe Dameron is steping up. “There has been a bit of shared history that you haven’t seen,” Oscar Isaac says. “Whereas in the other films, Poe is this kind of lone wolf, now he’s really part of a group. They’re going out and going on missions and have a much more familiar dynamic now.” He also refers to Finn as Poe’s “family.”

J.J. Abrams felt less constrained by the past on this one:

“Working on nine, I found myself approaching it slightly differently,” he says. “Which is to say that, on seven, I felt beholden to Star Wars in a way that was interesting—I was doing what to the best of my ability I felt Star Wars should be.” But this time something changed. Abrams found himself making different choices—for the camera angles, the lighting, the story. “It felt slightly more renegade; it felt slightly more like, you know, Fuck it, I’m going to do the thing that feels right because it does, not because it adheres to something.”

Writer Lev Grossman on Reddit:

Kennedy talked about how when they first got together to talk about planning the new trilogy, they were a bit stuck until JJ Abrams stood and said, how do we want it to FEEL? Let’s just put that up on a whiteboard! And I asked her what they wrote on the whiteboard, and she said a lot of things, but the word that really stuck was DELIGHTFUL.

He also states that neither Mark Hamill nor Kelly Marie Tran were giving interviews, thus their absence from the piece. (A picture of Mark Hamill as Luke does appear, but there are some similarities to his shoot from The Last Jedi, so…

One thing I’m eager to see after The Rise of Skywalker is adressing the overall development of the trilogy, and we get a little bit here.

Adam Driver: “An overall arc was very, not vague, the opposite, it was very clear—[there was] an end in sight even from the very beginning. The details obviously hadn’t been worked out, but we had talked about the very thing that we’d been working towards with this last one.”

Whether he just means Kylo, or the movies as a whole… Time will tell.

And to close us out… VF writer Joanna Robinson teased a “hidden meaning” in the covers, but it didn’t take fans long to suss it out: Kylo’s is at sunset, and Rey’s is at at sunrise. Is it a hint towards the balance of the force? The very last line of the story: “This time, finally, they’re going to get it right.”