Star Wars Episode VIII Director Details His Influences

Now that we know the official title of the next Star Wars movie, fans are starting to piece together whatever clues they can find about the plot and tone.

The name The Last Jedi immediately brings to mind classic samurai flicks, and writer and director Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) recently told Empire that’s not a coincidence. But he also revealed a few more movies that inspired the next installment of the Skywalker saga.

“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.”

To Catch a Thief might be the most surprising influence Johnson cited. It’s a 1955 romantic thriller by Alfred Hitchcock about a retired cat burglar (Cary Grant) who attempts to save his reputation by capturing another criminal who torments wealthy tourists of the French Riviera. However, Johnson likely drew from Hitchcock’s direction more than anything from the plot.

Johnson also said he struggled to find a balance when writing the dialogue for The Last Jedi. “I found myself constantly wanting to push modern idioms into the dialogue, and sometimes that can work, but you have to be very careful,” he said. “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.

Johnson is currently editing the movie, which lands in theaters Dec. 15.

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