Delve deeper into the background of the latest Star Wars film with The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary. Mike Harris examines some tasty tidbits to be found in this intriguing volume.
The Star Wars films are some of the most visually stunning out there, so much so that even after repeated viewings there are still things seen for the very first time. Small details around the edges of the scene or various characters strolling in the background that are missed while engaged in the story. It’s simply too much to process all at once.
That’s where the Visual Dictionary comes in.
The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary covers a lot of the smaller details about The Last Jedi that were either only glimpsed for a second on-screen or were not even mentioned at all. It is the latest in a long line of Visual Dictionaries that have focused on the other films of the saga and does a fantastic job of filling in the details that give this franchise its lived in feel.
It also expands the lore in amazing new ways. Writer, Pablo Hidalgo, is no newcomer to Star Wars and its mythology and gives readers some amazing behind the scenes details of the expanding galaxy far, far away. Complete with full color movie stills and photos, it’s a beautiful coffee table sized book that would make a fine addition to anyone’s collection.
The Masters Of Teras Kasi
Snoke’s retinue of Praetorian Guards are some of the most visually striking aspects of The Last Jedi. Inspired and evolved from the Royal Guard seen in Return of the Jedi, the Praetorian Guard have eschewed the visually regal and subdued aesthetic of their predecessors. Theirs is an intimidating appearance make no mistake.
Although only appearing for a few minutes on-screen (but what a few minutes!) their background is explored in The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary.
Eight Guards flank the Supreme Leader, four on each side, but what may have been missed is that there are four sets of pairs. Each pair wielding the same weapons.
The origins of the Guard remain a mystery as do the identities of the beings behind the armor itself. According to the book the name of the guard dates back to the 14th Atrisian Emperor of Kitel Phard. What sounds like just some clever on the spot narrative improvising actually has an interesting backstory in and of itself dating back to 1993. Another interesting easter egg, one of the fighting styles the Praetorian Guard is fluent in is the art of Teras Kasi. This is a reference to an ill-received fighting game from 1997; “Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi” for the Playstation.
The Supreme Leader
Although he may have met his end already in The Last Jedi, the mystery surrounding Supreme Leader Snoke will be ruminated upon for years to come. Several blink and you’ll miss it details of Snoke and his Throne Room are included in The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary.
The throne first seen in The Force Awakens via hologram is seen in its full glory in The Last Jedi, center stage in a massive red curtained Throne Room. Here Snoke sits surrounded not only by his deadly Praetorian Guard, but also by several “attendants”. Only seen briefly and in the background, some lore on these mysterious beings is revealed.
They are described as alien navigators, whose origins are in the Unknown Regions. Tall, robed beings whose work includes laying down hyperspace routes into and out of the perilous unknown. Were it not for them, the Imperial survivors from the Galactic Civil War would not have been able to amass and regroup in the Region. They operate the oculus viewing scope also briefly seen in the Throne Room.
Not too much of Snoke’s history is revealed here, more later I’m sure, but a fun detail is learned about the ring that he wears on his left hand. Etched with glyphs of the Dwartii, whose history stretches back to the formation of the Galactic Republic, it is topped with a large piece of black Obsidian. What is of note is that the Obsidian was obtained from the catacombs beneath Darth Vader’s castle on the planet Mustafar.
Craft And Crew
Most of the ships from these films play important cinematic roles but little is known of the more minor workings of the craft, including the names of the craft themselves.
The Mandator IV-class Siege Dreadnought that plays a pivotal role in the opening scenes of The Last Jedi is named the Fulminatrix. Earning the reputation of “fleet killer” the Dreadnought bristles with heavy cannons meant for orbital bombardment. Commanded by Galactic Empire veteran Captain Canady, the command decks are bathed in red lighting which actually serves a tactical purpose aside from just adding to the red-themed tone the movie conveys throughout. It helps maintain the gunnery crews’ night vision as they switch between various scopes.
Snokes gargantuan flagship, the Supremacy, is here revealed to be a whopping 60 kilometers wide. That’s about 37 miles! It also features several docking bays for full sized Star Destroyers.
The four remaining ships making up the Resistance fleet that managed to evacuate their base on D’Qar are the Raddus, Ninka, Vigil and the Anodyne.
The Raddus is commanded by Rebel war veteran Admiral Ackbar who was a contemporary of the ships namesake; Admiral Raddus. The late Admiral Raddus was seen on-screen in 2016’s Rogue One.
The long awaited details to Luke and his spiritual hideaway Ahch-To are mostly glossed over in the film, leaving Pablo Hidalgo here to fill in some of its ancient history in The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary.
Luke, together with scholar Lor San Tekka, were able to track down the location of the very first Jedi temple which is located on Ahch-To. Choosing this location to live out the remainder of his life after a tragic event at his own Jedi training academy, Luke has made his home among the ruins of their ancient village alongside a native race of Caretakers known as the Lanais. When Rey first encounters Luke, he is seen wearing the traditional robes of the Jedi Order, however this is worn not out of his remaining a part of the order but rather to carry out one final Jedi rite. The ending of the Order itself.
Several artifacts are in Luke’s possession such as a compass that was featured in the story of EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II. A Jedi Crusader pendant is among the items that Luke has gathered over the years of scouring the galaxy for Jedi history, and it contains a fragment of a Sith lightsaber crystal.
In the heart of the Jedi Temple, set into the floor, is a very interesting mosaic that is almost missed in the film. It is a depiction of the Prime Jedi. The very first of the order, it is laid out in black and white stones, mixed to emphasize the balance that the Jedi sought between both the light and the dark.
It’s So Much Bigger
It’s a massive galaxy, and although so much is crammed into these films, it in no way is able to fully explore the rich detail that has gone into the production and design that it truly deserves. The work put into the most minor of details is incredible, and shows the amount of love and passion those behind the scenes have for these films. Books like The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary are not just a fun look at these details but a testament to the creative talent that goes to great lengths to put it all together.
From a great rundown of all the new and unique aliens seen at Canto Bight to ranks within the First Order Stormtroopers, The Last Jedi The Visual Dictionary is the perfect accompaniment to the film.
Mike Harris hails from the suburbs of Chicago and has been a fan for most of his life. Working as an industrial radiographer and raising a family with his wife take up most of his time, but there’s always room for Star Wars books and podcasts! Just looking to give back to Star Wars and the fan community, it’s been a source of fun and learning for him for so long.