episode 8 bits

In today’s Episode 8 Bits:

  • New aerial footage reveals the Millennium Falcon on a mysterious set…
  • …and clear photos of that set reveals something else.
  • GLAAD wants Star Wars: Episode 8 to include gay characters.
  • Prince William and Prince Harry may have cameo roles in Episode 8.
  • A glimpse at Daisy Ridley‘s intense training.
  • Ireland really wants Star Wars fans to stop by for a visit.

The final scenes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens took place on an isolated planet called Ahch-To and this beautiful, mysterious location was created by filming on the Irish island of Skellig Michael…which turned out to be a huge pain in the butt for everyone. In addition to being an island full of rocky cliffs and steps that made hauling equipment difficult and dangerous, the island is a protected heritage site. The production couldn’t even step on the wrong blade of grass without feeling the wrath of the local authorities.

Naturally, that meant that Skellig Michael filming was brisk and limited for Star Wars: Episode 8 and that the Ahch-To sets were recreated in Ireland and at the famed Pinewood Studios in London, where the bulk of the film is being shot. And despite stories of the production employing drones that are designed specifically to take down other drones, someone managed to snag aerial footage of a very cool sight on the Pinewood set – the Millennium Falcon, parked near a grassy set complete with some familiar looking steps. Yep, this is definitely a new look at one of the Ahch-To locations, although it looks like a different spot than the one where Rey landed the iconic ship in the film. Maybe the change of location has to do with the big black something located up the steps. It’s hard to tell what it is in this shaky, blurry footage.

force tree

However, some crystal clear images of this set have surfaced over at the Daily Mail and you can follow that link if you want to check them out (we’re not in the mood to get sued today, thank you very much). In these images, that black blob now appears to be an ancient tree of some kind. As some fans have already pondered, this could be the Force-sensitive tree featured in Marvel’s Shattered Empire comic miniseries, which takes place shortly after the events of Return of the Jedi.

In that four-issue series (which was written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Marco Checchetto), rebel pilot Shara Bey (the mother of Poe Dameron) accompanies Luke Skywalker on a mission to one the Emperor’s top secret facilities to steal two small trees, which are all that remain of the larger tree that once grew at the Jedi Temple at Coruscant. Although Luke gives one of the trees to Shara Bey, he takes the other one to an undisclosed location. Maybe the ancient Jedi temple at Ahch-To?

While Skellig Michael itself will be featured less prominently in Episode 8, Discover Ireland (the country’s official tourism site) has released a brief new video all about how this incredible location and the role it plays in the new Star Wars movies. Although the intent here is really “Come to Ireland! And bring your money so you can pump up our local economy!”, the footage on display here is lovely and Skellig Michael itself truly does look like an alien landscape. You just know that Ireland took a look at how the Lord of the Rings movies led to a New Zealand tourism boom and they want a piece of that action. And you know what? Good for them. Give us Star Wars nerds an excuse to go see the world.

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