Film influences

While decidedly not part of the new canon, the films cited on this page were all identified as influences on Episode VIII at Star Wars Celebration Europe, being viewed way back in 2014 as part of the ‘Space Bear Film Camp’ established by Rian Johnson et al. to school the crew in the films that inspired him. While we don’t know what level of relevance these films will have to the finished product (if any), it is worth considering their themes and visuals to speculate on how these could be incorporated into Episode VIII.


  • 1939 – Gunga Din, dir. George Stevens

Synopsis: In 19th century India, three British soldiers and a native waterbearer must stop a secret mass revival of the murderous Thuggee cult before it can rampage across the land.


  • 1943 – Sahara, dir. Zoltán Korda

Synopsis: Sergeant Joe Gunn and his tank crew pick up five British soldiers, a Frenchman and a Sudanese man with an Italian prisoner crossing the Libyan Desert to rejoin their command after the fall of Tobruk. They and the Germans are greatly in need of water.


  • 1949 – Twelve O’Clock High, dir. Henry King

Synopsis: A hard-as-nails general takes over a bomber unit suffering from low morale and whips them into fighting shape.


  • 1957 – The Bridge on the River Kwai, dir. David Lean

Synopsis: After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men’s construction of a railway bridge for their captors – while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.


  • 1959 – Letter Never Sent, dir. Mikhail Kalatozov

Synopsis: The film follows four Soviet geologists who set out into the remotest reaches of Siberia on a mission to uncover diamonds. When the forces of nature turn against them, their mission becomes reduced to the simple matter of survival.

For an analysis of Letter Never Sent, and how it may connect to Episode VIII, see my article on the film here.


  • 1964 – Three Outlaw Samurai, dir. Hideo Gosha

Synopsis: Shiba, a wandering ronin, encounters a band of peasants who have kidnapped the daughter of their dictatorial magistrate, in hopes of coercing from him a reduction in taxes. Shiba takes up their fight, joined by two renegades from the magistrate’s guard, Sakura and Kikyo. The three outlaws find themselves in a battle to the death.