The epic lightsaber duel between Rey and Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens could have been wildly different in a few very specific ways. Don’t worry, there wasn’t a version where Kylo won, but Rey’s connection with the Force and the trees in the forest of Starkiller Base might have all gone down differently.
Though the trees don’t impact the plot directly, they add an element of drama to the scene and it’s richer for it. In director J.J. Abrams’s commentary for the 3D Blu-ray release of the film, he revealed that the added touch of the trees falling during that fight was actually Steven Spielberg’s idea.
“When I showed the first cut of this scene to Steven Spielberg … he suggested ‘What if trees were falling while they were fighting?’” said Abrams.
Spielberg wasnt the only director who had a major impact on that final scene between Rey and Kylo Ren, though. Abrams also showed the scene to Ava DuVernay, director of Selma and Middle of Nowhere. It was DuVernay who suggested that Rey have a moment of quiet where she lets the Force in, per Maz Kanata’s advice, and uses that strength to finish the battle.
Theres no question that this pivotal scene wasn’t the work of one mind, but of many. And that’s long been the beauty of Star Wars: Many influences and many ideas coming together to make something really great and impactful.