'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Is Full Of 'Rich A-Holes'

'Star Wars: Episode 8' is now 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi.'
'Star Wars: Episode 8' is now 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi.' Lucasfilm

There’s a lot to treasure in Vanity Fair’s new Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi cover story, like the Annie Leibovitz photography, which lends the Star Wars cast the gravitas and maturity the characters more often have in our imaginations than on-screen. But nothing got me excited for The Last Jedi quite like Canto Bight, a major location in the upcoming Star Wars that’s like nothing we’ve seen from the series before.

Canto Bight is a casino city visited by Rose and Finn in The Last Jedi (we have some spoiler-ish ideas about who else might be joining them). The Last Jedi writer and director Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) described Canto Bight as “a Star Wars Monte Carlo-type environment, a little James Bond-ish, a little To Catch a Thief.”

The alien location overflowing with new beasties has been a Star Wars tradition since the original. Canto Bight shares a throughline with the Mos Eisley cantina, Jabba’s Palace and Maz Kanata’s castle. Only this time, they’re not in rags, but overblown ‘dos and jewels.

Set leaks from Canto Bight shooting locations in Dubrovnik, Croatia, reveal a mix of Old World elegance and grandiloquent fashion, combining Star Wars aliens with our own world’s indulgent, upper-class excesses. “It was an interesting challenge, portraying luxury and wealth in this universe,” Johnson told Vanity Fair. “I was thinking, okay, let’s go ultra-glamour. Let’s create a playground, basically, for rich assholes.”

Mission accomplished:

All those pinched faces, small eyes and grandiose smirks — they totally do look like assholes! People who hoard wealth and pursue luxury status symbols are the same assholes everywhere, even in a distant galaxy.

A major character revealed in the Vanity Fair piece looks like she’ll fit right in. In contrast with General Leia’s muted browns, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) appears draped in elegance, complete with bright purple hair.

Not since the Prequel Trilogy have I gotten this much sense of how the upper crust lives in the Star Wars galaxy. While Canto Bight high society congratulates itself on refinement, Jakku, Tatooine and countless other planets starve in company towns (what else to call Unkar Plutt’s operation?) and penury. A major economic reckoning will be in order once the Resistance destroys the First Order and reestablishes the New Republic.

Since Star Wars isn’t really about aliens, but about us, The Last Jedi’s rich assholes should be read as a commentary on our own world’s obscene income inequality, where we let companies like Disney pay its CEO 776 times the median wage in the United States. Bob Iger makes in 12 hours what you make in a year, in a country where 4.5% of deaths can be attributed to poverty. While The Last Jedi may not argue directly for a maximum salary or a 94% taxation rate on income over $2.5 million, it looks like a decent argument for radical wealth redistribution.

Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi comes out in theaters Dec. 15.

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