Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s final scene does actually seem to be the reuse of stock footage. The teaser of the final film promised to be mind-melting but it didn’t quite turn out to be that way; they seemed pretty much at par with the course of the movie; which in turn left a lot more questions than answers.
Is Rise of Skywalker’s Final Shot Using Reused Footage?
In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker we saw Rey heading to Tatooine which is the homeworld of both Anakin and Luke Skywalker where she buried the lightsabers which belonged to Luke and Leia Organa in the shifting desert sands and later she seemed to make way to her home at the old Lars Homestead. The film was ended by Abrams with the last scene in which it is seen that Rey stared into the distance, watching the double-suns set over Tatooine. It was probably meant to be a nostalgic moment similar to the one from the first Star Wars movie, which according to Lucas was an ending for the Return of the Jedi as a way of bringing the story full-circle.
But the critical viewers have noticed that the last scene seems to be very familiar indeed. What seems to have happened is Abrams has taken a number of shots of Rey standing in the deserts of the Wadi Rum in Jordan, and then with the help of visual editing switched the locations. Some of these shots were used in Pasadena, when Rey stood waiting for Kylo Ren to attack in his TIE Whisper, while the others were used at the end. And confirming these were all taken at the same time, it is seen that the way the wind moves around Rey’s clothing is similar.
Editor Maryann Brand has explained in an interview with ComicBook.com, why these scenes seem so similar. According to her, the Pasadena scenes had been taken at first, and later the final shot was taken in which Rey was standing looking into the distance – intended to be used in the end. The reason behind this was The Rise of Skywalker’s hasty production schedule. Although it was surprising to see that Abrams used such familiar footage in scenes that were shown so prominently; the first seen in marketing, the second featured as the climax of the entire Skywalker saga. Many fans have already seen the Pasadena scene countless times, both on social media and on the big screen as a trailer that was released before a film. It was simply not possible that no one would notice and speculate that this was previous footage.
As already discussed, this decision is particularly ironic given Abrams really thought that he had come up with the most impressive ending of the movie possible. When Kevin Smith visited the set when it was being shot, he had been told that it’ll “melt his mind,” but later stated that some crew members wished they hadn’t seen it being filmed. He was probably referring to Rey’s burying the lightsabers, instead of the generic stock footage of Daisy Ridley staring into the distance.