the force awakens flashback

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a generally straightforward film, riding high on charm and energy while recycling plot elements from previous films to give you a nostalgic high. It’s the cinematic equivalent of being gently lowered into a warm bath. It’s pleasant. It’s relaxing. It’s exactly what you want after a long dry spell.

Except for one scene. When Daisy Ridley’s Rey first touches the lightsaber that belonged to Luke Skywalker and his father before him, she is sucked into a surreal flashback full of quick cuts, tiny details, and vocal cameos from long-dead Star Wars characters. It has become one of the most dissected scenes of the entire saga, with fans going through the video and audio with a fine-tooth comb. Everything that can be found in the footage has been found. Except for, you know, the stuff that was cut out.

Editor Maryann Brandon (who was nominated for an Oscar alongside fellow editor Mary Jo Markey for their work on The Force Awakens) participated in a Q&A at the University of California Television last month, but the video seems to be finally making the internet rounds. The entire talk runs almost an hour, but the most enticing piece of news involves what she left on the cutting room floor while editing that big flashback:

She went into this room and then it became the room in Cloud City, which you can still kind of see because we still kept that idea, but then she used to walk down the hall and she saw Darth Vader and Luke fighting. And she saw Darth Vader cut Luke’s hand off. Then she turned around and saw Snoke, or some version of Snoke, vague version of him and a little boy. So all those images we had, they just didn’t have a logic that satisfied anyone enough.

The first part of that is known information. Rey witnessing the duel between Darth Vader and Luke in Cloud City was included in a few The Force Awakens books, so everyone assumed that it was either scripted and never shot or shot and cut from the movie. It’s the second part that’s new and interesting, especially since Supreme Leader Snoke is the wet blanket hanging in the corner of a movie otherwise bursting with fun and fascinating new characters. What was he doing in Rey’s flashback? And is that little boy Ben Solo, who will eventually grow up to be Kylo Ren?

We know from Star Wars: Bloodline that Ben was still training to be a Jedi under his Uncle Luke until he was in his late teens at the very least, so there are two ways to interpret this. It could be a metaphor of some kind. Or maybe the Lucasfilm story group decided to tinker with Kylo Ren’s origin story, which meant axing this little moment.

Should you be interested, the entire interview with Brandon can be watched below. We’ll surely learn more about Snoke and his relationship with Ben when Star Wars: Episode 8 hits theaters in 2017.

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