A friend linked me to a funny tweet about how the upcoming new movies will end.
While tongue in cheek, it did remind me that the final shot of these trilogies is probably one of the first things the authors think of. The final shot of the Original Trilogy is a funeral pyre, and Force ghosts, and Ewoks singing Yub Nub with the rebels, which is a great view of the ending elements and joy of the Light Side of the Force.
How do the Prequels end?
Beru and Owen Lars holding Luke to the sunset. This is the same sunset and view that Luke looks to early in A New Hope as he ponders how small his life is and how great the wide universe is. It’s a very epic shot (with soaring music), and this shot captures that magic while paralleling it. This final shot is perhaps the most stirring single shot of all three movies.
Which fits many of the other design choices we see in the final third of the movie. We suddenly have shots aboard Imperial cruisers and good guy space ships and they look a lot more like what we are used to from the Originals, than the ships we were seeing for most of the Prequels.
The set design is saying a thing. It’s saying “okay, now we have moved into the next era, the one you saw before, remember all this?” After the climactic moment, everything, even hallway decor, changes.
So a key point here: the artists of the Prequels did not suddenly forget how to make things look like the old movies. They knew how to make stirring shots, how to evoke the sacred, and not the overly artificial pablum we see so often instead. The Prequels were not a failure of skill.
Now the shroud of the Dark Side has fallen, and now there is finally a chance to fight it. Now noble children like Luke and rural families on impoverished planets enter the picture. Coruscant and Jedi temples and midichlorians and chrome spaceships were a phase and now they are over.
So I guess bonus question: given everything we know about the story of Star Wars, and how the last shot of each trilogy has been powerful, what do you think the last shot of Episode 9 will be?