In one trailer and one behind-the-scenes video for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we clearly saw Rey running heroically on the beach of Luke Skywalker’s island on the planet Ahch-to. But, in the final movie, that scene never happened. And the reason why is that it was probably part of a much larger sequence in which the First Order invaded the planet.
Spoilers for The Last Jedi follow.
On December 15, the day The Last Jedi hit theaters, Abrams books published The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a comprehensive guide to all the concept art that went into the making of the film. In these pages, Phil Szostak outlines several of the paths not taken from a design standpoint, as well as the inspirations that created the aesthetics of the final film. And, throughout the book, several pieces of art seem to depict a siege of the planet Ahch-to.
One particular piece of art (not pictured above) clearly shows ships advancing on the shores of Luke’s island. Meanwhile, the concept art for Rey running on the beach is called “Caretaker Village.” And that’s because Rey is running with her lightsaber out, toward the Caretaker Village which is burning. So, presumably, at some point in the story process, the First Order was going to show up on Luke’s planet and torch the poor Caretakers! The big running-on-the-beach scene would have been Rey rushing to save them. Over on Slashfilm, it’s believed that this scene was actually a “joke.” Rey thinks the Caretaker village is being burned, but when she arrives, she just finds a giant party.
To be clear, the specifics of what was filmed beyond Daisy Ridley running haven’t been confirmed. But the art in tandem with that footage we all saw seems to suggest two other story elements were being kicked-around here and then dropped. A possible First Order invasion of Luke’s island, and the Caretaker village burning/party fake-out.
Ironically or not, this is the second Star Wars film in two years to have a scene of a character running on a beach heroically in a trailer, and then not include that scene in the final film. In several trailers for Rogue One, there were shots of Cassian and Jyn running on the beach, which also didn’t happen in the final cut.
In the case of Rogue One, the beach-deletion can be chalked up to the reshoots which changed the ending of the movie. But, with The Last Jedi, it appears that the entire subplot of a possible First Order invasion and burning of a Caretaker village was dropped.
Then again, maybe some of these scenes were shot, and it could be the “massive” scene Rian Johnson has referenced that we’ll see on the Blu-ray. Until then, let’s hope Solo and Episode IX don’t have any scenes on beaches that end up getting cut.
Pick up a copy of The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi from Abrams Books, to see all the gorgeous concept art and behind-the-scenes glimpses.