'Last Jedi' Trailer Reveals Books and Paper Exist in 'Star Wars'

Up until now, Star Wars films have been entirely paperless, but the first teaser trailer for The Last Jedi clearly shows that the fictional galaxy has paper and very, very ancient books.

The weirdest shot in the new trailer is actually a bit confusing at first and has a very Raiders of the Lost Ark feeling to it. What were those bizarre objects? They’re books! How strange! The weirdest thing in the new Star Wars trailer isn’t Luke Skywalker saying that “it’s time for the Jedi to end,” but instead, the presence of actual, physical books. Up until now, data storage in Star Wars films has notoriously relied on sound, holographic media, and readouts on computers. But now, it seems people in Star Wars did, at one point in the distant past, write things on paper and actually create bound volumes that look like real books. The existence of books in the trailer isn’t casual either: There is literally a spotlight put on a row of old crusty books, presumably owned by Luke Skywalker.

I wrote two essays (one online in 2012 and one, much longer in a book in 2015) which explored illiteracy in the Star Wars universe. It was even postulated that Luke ended up finding books later in life. What was contended back then seems to be corroborated in the new trailer: Reading and book-binding are ancient practices in this galactic culture, so much so that it’s taken nine films for us to actually see books and things printed on paper. Notably, the one page we see from a book doesn’t have any words written on it, but instead, an illustration which seems to be the symbol of the Jedi Order from the era of the prequels and, specifically, The Clone Wars.

In The Force Awakens, Han Solo said that some people thought Luke Skywalker went looking for the “first Jedi Temple.” Because the Jedi have been around for “over a thousand generations,” their original existence is practically ancient history in terms of the overall chronology of the Star Wars universe. In contemporary Star Wars, we’ve never seen books because it appears that those books are connected with things that happened even longer ago than the “long time ago” we’re used to. And the books in the trailer are freaking ancient.

The book twist is huge for another reason though: The whole tone of the trailer seems to imply there is secret information about the Force which is just now coming to light. Yes, canon Star Wars comics have featured Luke Skywalker reading Obi-Wan Kenobi’s diaries, but those haven’t made any earth-shattering revelations about the nature of the Force. If Luke Skywalker really thinks it’s time for the Jedi to close up shop, it’s possible that’s because he’s discovered some deep dark secrets about the nature of the Force. And if that’s true, then for the first time in its history, Star Wars will do something it’s never done before: demonstrate that reading a book can change your life.

The Force Awakens is out everywhere on December 15, 2017.

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