Principal photography on Star Wars: Episode IX may be coming to an end, as members of the crew have received gifts holiday gifts commemorate their time together on the film’s set in Pinewood Studios. While the crew gift may include some spoilers by referencing things yet to be seen in the movie — including something called a “Jedi Eater” — there’s one detail, in particular, that has us thinking about a classic Star Wars prequels meme that’s only become more prolific in recent years.
On Monday, redditor u/N00tN00t84 shared a photo of the gift — a black bag printed with the Star Wars “IX,” a Bad Robot t-shirt, and two jars full of sand and black beans — on r/StarWarsLeaks, which were given to their girlfriend’s brother who allegedly worked in first unit.
Another thread, depicting a screen grab of an anonymous Instagram user sharing their gifts, also appeared on r/StarWarsLeaks a few days prior.
The gifts contained a letter from director J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, and producers Michelle Rejwan and Callum Greene. In the note, the filmmakers thank their crew for their “kindness and respect” and their “next-level” work. The jars each contain a label: The sand is “From a long time ago, not so far away,” while the black beans “Swallows you up whole!!”
Let’s get the speculation out of the way: The sand is likely sand from Wadi Rum in Jordan, where some filming of Episode IX took place. The “sacred place” mentioned in the letter sounds messianic, which suggests the film could return to Tatooine, the home planet of Luke Skywalker. (Tunisia in northern Africa was the filming location of Tatooine in the original Star Wars.)
As for the beans, you got me. Reddit somehow came up with the phrase “Jedi Eater,” so there’s all kinds of speculation ranging from how the dark side swallows up Jedi to a literal dark place known for where Jedi go to die. (Aren’t all the Jedi dead already at this point?)
It’s worth also pointing out that the two jars do illustrate the light side/dark side binary in a pretty succinct way.
Since we’ve now done our homework, let’s talk memes. I can’t help but look at the jar of sand and think of the worst/best line from Attack of the Clones: “I don’t like sand.” Anakin’s god awful attempts to swoon Senator Padmé Amidala on Naboo have become an internet meme, with remixes upon remixes on YouTube. In 2017, one bold fan went viral for getting actor Hayden Christensen to sign a jar of sand, which he apparently took in stride.
“He thought it was pretty funny, actually. He laughed about it,” said the fan, Spike Springe, in an interview with BuzzFeed. “I was really terrified because I thought he was either going to hate me, or he was going to think it was funny. There wasn’t going to be an in-between. But he was super nice about it, and he’s a really nice guy.”
Did J.J. Abrams gift his hard-working crew a meme? Probably not. But given that Abrams spent several months trolling the hell out of Zack Snyder while making 2015’s The Force Awakens, AKA the most stressful commercial creative endeavor in history, I wouldn’t put it past Abrams secretly having some fun with his movie family.
Star Wars: Episode IX will be released in theaters on December 20.