8 Times 'The Last Jedi' Nods to the Classic 'Star Wars' Trilogy

Star Wars, Last Jedi
The latest film in the "Star Wars" franchise pays homage to those that came before, connecting characters, story lines and even musical themes. Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

"Star Wars" movies are interconnected. As each new film has been released, it builds on what has come before and takes things a step further. It adds nuance and context so that when we look at the previous installments, we see them in a different way. "The Last Jedi" is no different in this regard, and it borrows liberally from the original installments of the franchise.

This is one of the best parts of "Star Wars" — watching to see where the stories sync up and where history repeats itself. Here are eight times "The Last Jedi" touched on the first three films in the classic saga.


Spoiler Alert! Be warned, though, there are lots of spoilers for "The Last Jedi" to be found here.

1. The Music

Composer John Williams, who won an Academy Award for his work on the original score for "Star Wars," is back in charge of the score for "The Last Jedi." It's natural that he would reprise themes that he's established for certain characters from previous movies. The Luke and Leia themes are present, as well as the Force theme, but Williams also references a lot of other music from the classic trilogy. "Here They Come," which was a key track during the attack on the Death Star, is referenced significantly in the film. The music from Palpatine's throne room in "Return of the Jedi" finds its way into Snoke's lair. References from the battle of Hoth appear in the battle of Crait. We even get music that is decidedly cantina-like on the casino planet of Canto Bight. Throughout the film, audiences will pick out these concrete touchstones to the music that helped make "Star Wars" a cultural phenomenon.


2. Return of the Falcon

Star Wars, Falcon
The Millennium Falcon.
Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

One familiar ship from the classic trilogy that's back is Han Solo's Millennium Falcon. Yes, it appeared in 2015's "The Force Awakens," but there are touches in "The Last Jedi" that reference new material from the older films. The first is the pair of dice dangling from the cockpit. These dice showed up in just a couple of shots in the original film, but play a vital role as a symbol through "The Last Jedi." The second is the timely arrival of the Falcon to stave off certain death from the bad guys. When the Falcon arrives on Crait, the music cue is one that echoes cues from "A New Hope."


3. Our Only Hope

"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope." These words might be some of the most familiar and iconic from "Star Wars." And they're echoed once more in "The Last Jedi." When Luke sneaks aboard the Millennium Falcon to reminisce about his adventures and to mourn his lost friend, Artoo-Detoo screams to life to berate his old friend about sitting out of the fight. When Luke tries to tell the droid why he won't come back to the fight, Artoo uses the hologram that got Luke to begin his adventure in the first place to convince him. Although the version Artoo plays is condensed, it's still the same speech first seen by audiences in 1977.


4. The X-Wing

On the planet where Luke has decided to exile himself, Rey catches a glimpse of an X-Wing fighter under the water of the ocean. Luke flew an X-Wing to Dagobah in "The Empire Strikes Back" and as part of his training had to raise it up out of the swamp. Seeing it crashed here made audiences wonder if Rey might have to do the same thing, but it was nothing more than a reminder that Luke intended to die on Ahch-To and never return.


5. The Failure in the Cave

In "The Empire Strikes Back," Luke Skywalker learns a truth about his father in a cave that Master Yoda dubs "a domain of evil." The dark side of the Force is strong there, and he must go inside and face whatever he finds. There, he confronts Vader, his greatest fear, and finds his own face reflected in his beheaded foe. Rey goes through a similar journey in "The Last Jedi," and her vision also offers her a mirror of herself, offering her a window of truth into her own parentage as well.


6. Ignoring the Master

Since "The Empire Strikes Back," the middle chapter of a "Star Wars" trilogy is marked by the presentation of a dilemma to a student and that student taking off, against the advice of the master, headlong into trouble and the dark side. "The Last Jedi" is no exception. Where Luke is told by his masters on Dagobah to ignore the visions he sees of Han and Leia being tortured on Cloud City, Rey is told to give up her quest to turn Kylo Ren back to the light side. Both quests are foolish errands that will put the galaxy in greater danger.


7. The Battle of Hoth

At the beginning of "The Empire Strikes Back," we're given a battle scene on the ice world of Hoth. The rebels have nothing but rickety snowspeeders and troops in trenches to stave off the walking war machines of the Empire. In "The Last Jedi," we're given a battle on Crait of magnified proportions. Instead of on snow, the battle takes place above the red minerals and salt-snow of a new planet. Resistance fighters in trenches support flimsy ski-speeders that skim across the surface, kicking up red dust rather than snow. Like the Empire before them, the First Order fields massive walkers, but instead of the AT-ATs we're used to, they bring AT-M6s, which are larger and have much more firepower. Though it evokes the first fight visually, it ends very differently.


8. The Vanishing Master

One of the most striking moments in "Star Wars" was when Obi-Wan sacrificed himself to save Luke and the rest of the heroes escaping the Death Star. Vader's saber cuts right through Obi-Wan's empty robes because he vanished. Master Yoda makes the same disappearance in "Return of the Jedi," and Luke Skywalker makes this move his own in "The Last Jedi." But what is death to someone who has a path to immortality like a Jedi master?