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Han Solo’s funeral wasn’t included in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi because it would’ve affected the film’s pacing – and Star Wars needs to continue pushing forward. Harrison Ford received the most screentime of all the original trilogy’s stars (especially more than Mark Hamill) in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, and that’s because the writer-director ultimately chose to kill off the famed character in what is considered one of the sequel trilogy’s biggest and most heartbreaking moments.
As Star Wars fans may recall, Ford asked George Lucas to kill off Han Solo in Return of the Jedi because he thought it would be the best utility for the character and the story, but Lucas rejected the idea for reasons that mostly involved toy sales. Ford did get the death he always wanted, though. It took over 30 years, but audiences finally saw the iconic smuggler-turned-Rebellion-general-turned-smuggler meet his untimely demise… at the hands of his son, Ben Solo, no less. It was a decision that affected the sequel trilogy’s characters as well as its overarching narrative. And while everyone, of course, mourned Han’s death, his funeral scene was never shown on-screen. Director Rian Johnson has finally explained why that is.
In an interview with Collider following an IMAX screening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi hosted by the outlet, Rian Johnson explained that Han Solo’s funeral would’ve impinged the film’s pacing, so they never even considered adding the scene into the movie.
“[There was no debate of showing Han Solo’s funeral], just because pacing-wise it didn’t have a place. It’s tough in Star Wars because I always think about the mourning that Luke gives to Ben’s death, which is all of four-and-a-half seconds before, ‘Come on kid we’re not out of this yet’ and then boom, you’re into ‘Yay, woo-hoo! Don’t get cocky!’ There’s the moment for it, but it’s not long. We don’t have time for our sorrows, commanders. That’s kind of the thing of Star Wars; you don’t really linger on grief because you’re moving forward.”
Johnson does make a compelling point about Last Jedi‘s pacing – which was constant – being an important factor in skipping over Han’s funeral. But that doesn’t mean his death was completely glossed over. Leia does take a moment to grieve, but it’s a short-lived moment because, again, the pacing was paramount.
“I think we do it a little more in this movie than typically is done. I really held onto that moment of Leia before they come out of hyperspace, just that moment of feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders… It was never something where there was an organic place for it like, ‘Oh it would go here.’ It was always something like, ‘We wanna get this right up on our feet and going from the start’.”
Luke also takes a moment to grieve over Han’s death – only after Chewbacca and Rey inform him of his friend’s demise, of course – but Star Wars fans may have felt that more was needed to show respect to such an iconic figure. After all, Padme Amidala received a funeral in Revenge of the Sith, and that arguably didn’t affect the movie’s pacing all too much. To remedy this situation, Lucasfilm is including Han’s funeral in The Last Jedi‘s novelization, which is due out in March.