Star Wars: The Last Jedi Is World War II To Original Trilogy's WWI

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Admiral Hux stands before Snoke in the Supreme Leader's throne room.
Admiral Hux stands before Snoke in the Supreme Leader's throne room. Lucasfilm

Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and actor Andy Serkis describe Supreme Leader Snoke’s backstory, motivation and appearance in a new Entertainment Weekly article. As with most pre-release movie fluff, their descriptions are vague and largely free of spoiler-ish specifics, except for one fascinating detail that offers a whole new way to think about the conflict between Snoke’s First Order and General Leia Organa’s Resistance.

EW’s central thesis concerns Snoke’s emotional motivation: his “unspeakable pain,” turned back on the galaxy.

“The thing about Snoke is that he is extremely strong with the Force, the dark side of the Force. He’s terribly powerful, of course. But he is also a very vulnerable and wounded character,” Serkis told EW. “He has suffered and he has suffered injury. The way that his malevolence comes out is in reaction to that. His hatred of the Resistance is fueled by what’s happened to him personally.”

That injury is both psychic and very physical. Beyond the skull-length scar splitting his face, Serkis suggests Snoke’s “mauled” face and “completely mangled jaw,” for which he taped down one side of his mouth to restrict his lip movement, offers insight into his character.

“You witness his physicality,” Serkis said. “His body is kind of twisted up like a corkscrew, and so he has limited movement. His aggression and his anger is contained and restricted by that physicality.”

But more interesting than the specifics of Snoke’s physical characteristics, which will be obvious on-screen, is Serkis’ description of their inspiration. “His deformity is very much based on injuries from the First World War, from the trenches,” Serkis says.

That’s a very specific reference point, one that points to a possible subtext brought up during The Last Jedi ’s production or preproduction and likely to be evident in its plot.

One oft-explored factor for the rise of fascism in pre-WWII Germany is the immiseration imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, which essentially laid the blame for the First World War war on Germany, demanding that signatories not only accept “the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage,” but also laying the groundwork for punitive reparations that crippled the broken economy for years. The resulting resentment and anger became central to the antisemitic conspiracies and nationalism that fueled German fascism. Many of Adolf Hitler’s first moves came in defiance of specific treaty stipulations, while Hitler’s private secretary Martin Bormann recorded the Nazi leader’s conspiratorial Treaty of Versailles mealtime rants as late as 1942.

Just as WWI bitterness fueled WWII, the origins of Snoke’s crusade might be found in the war between the Galactic Empire and the Rebellion. EW describes Snoke as having “an abiding rage toward the Galactic Republic.”

There are a few other hints linking Snoke in The Last Jedi to WWII-era fascism, including the Supreme Leader’s flare for red-soaked, fascist design. “The way that his court is presented,” Serkis said. “He enjoys that theatricality, I think.”

And just like the army of Nazi Germany — which realigned the entire economy toward mechanized warfare, new war-time technologies and rapid production — The Last Jedi will reveal the First Order to be a stronger threat than suggested in The Force Awakens. “Despite the fact that the Starkiller Base has been destroyed and the Resistance has been putting up a fight, we will discover that the First Order has limitless resources in this one,” Serkis says.

Which is not to say Snoke is a perfect analogy to Adolf Hitler or the First Order to Nazi Germany. Instead, the description of his injuries as WWI trench injuries suggests only a way to see the evolution from the original Star Wars to the galaxy’s new conflict. We might not even learn exactly what the Galactic Republic did to Snoke to generate so much pain and anger. Johnson emphasized to EW that The Last Jedi won’t provide Snoke’s backstory for its own sake. “In the Original Trilogy, we didn’t know anything about the Emperor except exactly what we needed to know, which is what Luke knew about him, that he’s the evil guy behind Vader,” Johnson said. “We’ll learn exactly as much about Snoke as we need to.”

“Similar to with Rey’s parentage, Snoke is here to serve a function in the story,” Johnson told EW . “And, you know, a story is not a Wikipedia page.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Would Be A Fitting End To The Series
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is unlike any other movie in the current franchise era, miles above anything Marvel, Rogue One or The Force Awakens can offer.
  • Pushes each character forward
  • Amazing ship battles
  • I love Kylo Ren
  • Kylo Ren shirtless
  • Kylo Ren
  • Luke Skywalker has the most astonishing arc in mainstream hero history
  • That one Leia moment no one liked, but they're wrong
  • Plot contrivances to position characters
  • A few clunky lines
  • Canto Bight action sequences feels superfluous
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