J.J. Abrams Reveals the Meaning of Rey's Flashback in "The Force Awakens"

Thursday, 20 October 2016 - 1:02PM
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Thursday, 20 October 2016 - 1:02PM
J.J. Abrams Reveals the Meaning of Rey's Flashback in "The Force Awakens"
Watch out, J.J. Abrams is just dropping new revelations about The Force Awakens left and right! From Kylo Ren's thought process when he killed a certain somebody to how Chewbacca almost ripped the arms off that Unkar Plutt guy, Abrams has been giving fans glimpses at some of the material that will be included in the Blu-Ray release of The Force Awakens. Now, we just got some insight into that flashback Rey had when she touched Luke Skywalker's old lightsaber. You can hear Abrams' commentary at 1:55 in the new video clip:



Here's the written transcript of what Abrams is saying, provided by Slashfilm:

Opening quote
In this scene, she is drawn to this place, almost like...Cinderella. And she goes to this box, which, when she opens, she discovers something that of course, has no meaning to her—she's never seen this before and doesn't know what it is, but it has meaning to the audience. Touching the lightsaber triggers what we called the "Forceback." There were many iterations of this. In one, from the Cloud City corridor, she looked down and saw Vader fighting Luke, which we ended up cutting. We wanted it to be a more personal story, something that she couldn't comprehend, that was overwhelming to her, frightening to her, that was taking her through all of these elemental experiences, of fire, of rain, snow, wind. But also that she was being confronted with truths about the Force, about the past. The Knights of Ren here, the past for herself—she realizes that the cries she heard were actually her own cries as a young girl being taken away from her family. And then she hears a voice, "Rey," and that's Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Closing quote


Now, the whole scene where Rey wanders off from Han and Maz into the lower corridors of the bar always seemed a little surreal. Abrams describes it as a "Cinderella" experience, but when I first saw it I was confused about what was going on until I saw Luke's lightsaber. There were no whispers of "Rey," or visual/auditory hints that she was being pulled to the saber until later, when Maz says "It calls out to you." Up until then, I wasn't sure if the whole sequence leading up to finding the lightsaber was real or a vision, like Luke meeting Vader in Yoda's cave. Maybe Rey was still sitting at the table with Han Solo, and this was all in her head.

Either way, the "Forceback" itself is probably one of the most intense sequences in the film—it's frightening, confusing, and traumatic, but it has a kind of internal logic, like how Rey realizes the cries she's been hearing were hers all along. We get a glimpse of Luke's robot hand and a look at the Knights of Ren, who we only hear references to otherwise. There also a bit of precognition when she sees Kylo Ren appear from behind the tree during her future fight with him. Then there's the call of "Rey," who Abrams confirms is Obi-Wan.

A lot of hardcore fans have interpreted Obi-Wan's calling out to Rey as a sign that he's her father, but Rey's parentage is still one of the biggest mysteries in the new films and a huge part of her character's emotions: whoever Rey's parents were, they abandoned her on Jakku. This is especially meaningful because the deleted scene, where Rey witnesses the fight between Darth Vader and Luke in Cloud City, is also the famous moment where Luke finds out his parentage—the "I am your father" scene. A little parallel parental trauma, anyone?

All in all, we now know the official term for Rey's vision: the Forceback. Not just a dream or a flashback—she's seeing the past and future with the Force, like a Jedi Paul Atreides. Thanks, J.J. Abrams!
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens