A Comparison of the Novelization and Film Interrogation Scenes

The interrogation scene is one of the defining scenes in TFA and many feel the scene is intimate and sets up a the possibility of a romantic relationship. At the same time, many use the perceived intamacy to rule out kinship between Kylo and Rey. However, the novelization gives a different picture of what is going on. Kylo isn’t being intimate, he’s puzzled by Rey and trying to figure out why she seems familiar.


Overlaying the script over the novel’s version makes it quite evident the film was shot following the depiction shown in the novel. Here, I’ve done such a comparison with commentary. The scene effectively starts when Kylo freezes Rey on Takodana:

Novel:

Until, evidently, he tired of it. He raised a hand, held it toward her, palm outward. As she inhaled sharply, her hand froze on the blaster. She tried to turn, to run, but her legs refused to respond. She could only stand there among the trees, taking in slow, measured breaths, as he came toward her.
Halting an arm’s length away, he studied her face from behind his mask. When he finally spoke, he sounded at once impressed and surprised. “You would kill me. Knowing nothing about me.”
Finding that her mouth and lips worked, she replied defiantly. “Why wouldn’t I kill you? I know about the First Order.”
“I would say otherwise. But that is a small thing. Simple ignorances are easily remedied.” As he spoke, he walked slowly around her paralyzed body. Frightened, she tried to follow him with her eyes, but her head would not turn. “So afraid,” he murmured. “Yet I should be the one who should be scared. You shot first. You speak of the Order as if it were barbaric. And yet, it is I who was forced to defend myself against you.”
Having circled her, he moved even closer, peering into her face, her eyes. Then the red lightsaber he held came up: close to her flesh, close enough to cast a red glow on her skin.
“Something.” He sounded mystified. “There is something…Who are you?”

In the book, they have a short dialog and Kylo’s initial focus is on Rey rather than finding the map.

Script:

KYLO REN: The girl I’ve heard so much about. He walks AROUND HER, slowly, she won’t let herself cry. KYLO REN (CONT’D): The droid.
He comes around to see her face. After a scary beat he WHIPS HIS SABER UP TO HER EYES, ILLUMINATING HER FACE.
KYLO REN (CONT’D): Where is it?

The focus in the final film is moved largely to the droid rather than Rey herself, other than one line referencing the scene where he first learns of her.

Novel:

Shutting down and belting his lightsaber, Ren contemplated his immobile captive. Reaching up slowly, he touched her face. The pressure he applied was not physical. Refusing to meet his gaze, she looked away, straining with the agony of resistance, hardly daring to breathe. If only she could get a hand free, a leg-but no part of her body responded to her commands.
Surprised by what he was finding, Ren lowered his hand. Relieved of the mental intrusion, she sucked in great, long draughts of air. His brows drew together and a reluctance to believe his own findings colored his comments.
“Is it true, then? You’re nothing special after all? You’re just a-Jakku scavenger?”

Kylo clearly thinks there’s something familiar about her here and is puzzled to find she’s just a scavenger. This section is missing entirely from the film, but he’s clearly confused about Rey.

How did he know that? she agonized as she stared back at him. Surely she hadn’t thought it! She’d tried to keep her mind blank, her memory locked, and still he had wormed his way in. He touched her anew. This time the pain of trying to stave him off brought tears streaming down her face. He was within her mind and her thoughts, and there was nothing-nothing!-she could do to keep him out. To resist. But she kept trying, trying…
“Hmm…,” he murmured softly. “You’ve met the traitor who served under me. A minor annoyance grown larger than he deserves. You find him more than tolerable.” He drew back slightly, bemused. “You’ve even begun to care for him. A weakness, such distractions.”
Suddenly he put his face so close to hers that they were almost touching. “You’ve seen it! The map! It’s in your mind right now…”
She could hardly swallow as she strained to pull away from him, anything to pull away, to get him out.
She wanted to scream, but he would not allow it.

Script:

KYLO REN: The map. You’ve seen it.
Rey is horrified. He TOUCHES HER FACE again: the pain, tears stream. Kylo Ren, taking more from her mind… She stares at him, TERRIFIED, straining in agony — Kylo Ren, mid-interrogation, TURNS TOWARD THE SOUND OF THE EXPLOSIONS. Stormtroopers APPROACH through the woods. STORMTROOPER #5: Sir, Resistance fighters! We need more troops. Kylo Ren TURNS BACK TO Rey, his hand still on her face. KYLO REN: Pull the division out. Forget the droid. We have what we need.

Again, Ren’s lines indicating his initial interest in Rey personally are removed. His attitude goes from curiosity to higly aggressive. Our only remaining indication he’s interested in Rey in the film is his decision to abandon the droid (which disregards the entire reason they needed to find the droid in the first place, as Hux later mocks Kylo).

Now we come to the interrogation scene. The novelization and film overlap almost perfectly with some key changes. Novels not in the film are crossed out and added lines are bolded.

Description removed
“Where am I?”
“Does the physical location really matter so much?” In Kylo Ren’s voice there was unexpected gentleness. Not quite sympathy, but something less than the hostility with which he had confronted her in the forest. “You’re my guest.”
With an ease that was more frightening than any physical approach, he waved casually in her direction. A couple of clicks, and the restraints fell away from her arms. She tried to take the demonstration in stride as she rubbed her wrists. The last thing she wanted was for him to think he could intimidate her any more than he already had. Looking around the room, she confirmed that they were alone.
“Where are the others?~~ The ones who were fighting with me?
He sniffed disdainfully. “You mean the traitors, murderers, and thieves you call friends? ~~Consider carefully now: I could easily tell you they were all killed, righteously slain in battle. But I would prefer to be honest with you from the beginning.
 You will be relieved to hear that as far as their current status and well-being is concerned-I have no idea.”

Kylo is far more verbose in the novel and his intent to garner her trust is evident. This is in stark contrast to how he handles Poe earlier in the film. In the novel, his more gentle approach is a continuation of the forest scene. In the film, it’s a substantial change in tone.

She stared at him. Though at the moment he was calm, she could not escape the feeling that a wrong word, an unsatisfactory response, might set him off. Be very careful with this person, she told herself.
He looked at her as if she had just spoken aloud. For all the chance she had of hiding her emotions from him, she realized, she might as well have voiced her thoughts.
“You still want to kill me,” he murmured.

The reference to the novelization’s conversation in the woods is removed here.

Her true self got the better of her and she replied tactlessly, despite the danger. “That happens when you’re being hunted by a creature in a mask.”
Kylo removes his mask as he does in the film
“Is it true?” he finally asked. “You’re just a scavenger?” She didn’t respond, and, perhaps sensing her embarrassment, he changed the subject. “Tell me about the droid.”

The line echoing his earlier puzzlement with her is removed and he goes straight to the droid. The result is a sharp tonal shift where he goes from aggressive, to friendly and back to aggressive. In the novel there’s a smoother transition from curious, even friendly, to aggressive. It’s also evident the scenes were cut from footage that reflected the novel.

She swallowed. “It’s a BB unit with a selenium drive and a thermal hyperscan vindicator, internal self-correcting gyroscopic propulsion system, optics corrected to-”
“I am familiar with general droid technical specifications. I don’t need to acquire one: What I want is located in its memory. It’s He’s carrying a section of a transgalactic navigational chart. We have the rest, recovered from the archives of the Empire. We need the last piece. Somehow, you convinced the droid to show it to you. You. A simple, solitary scavenger. How is that?

Some unnecessary lines are cut. In the novel, it’s clear he’s decided she is in fact just a scavenger and he’s mistaken about her and feels no reason to continue attempting to gain her trust. In the film, he tries to gain her trust for all of a minute and then abandons the tactic for no apparent reason. In any case, he goes straight to mental invasion.

She looked away. How did he know that? By the same means he had used to learn everything else?
“I know you’ve seen the map,” he repeated. “It’s what I need. At the moment, it is all that I need.” When she maintained her silence, he almost sighed. “I can take whatever I want.”
Her muscles tightened. “Then you don’t need me to tell you anything.”
“True.” He rose, resigned. “I would have preferred to avoid this. Despite what you may believe, it gives me no pleasure. I will go as easily as possible-but I will take what I need.”

He blames Rey for forcing him to resort to mental intrusion and tries to put her at ease.

She knew that trying to resist him physically would not only be useless but would likely result in unpleasantness of a kind she preferred not to imagine. So she remained motionless and silent, her arms at her sides, as his hand rose toward her face. He touched her again, as he had in the forest on Takodana.
And hesitated. What was that? Something there. Something unexpected.

Unfortunately, none of this can really be conveyed visually.

As she strained to resist the probe, he pushed into her, brushing aside her awkward attempts to keep him out. While he investigated her mind, he spoke softly.
“You’ve been so lonely,” he murmured as he searched for what he needed. “So afraid to leave.” A thin smile crossed his face. “At night, desperate to sleep, you’d imagine an ocean. I can see it…I can see the island.”
Tears were streaming down her face from the effort she was making to withstand him. Increasingly desperate, she did try to strike out. But just as on Takodana, her body refused to respond.
“And Han Solo,” Ren continued relentlessly. “He feels like the father you never had. A dead end, that vision. Let it go. I can tell you for a fact he would have disappointed you.”
All the rage and terror bottled up inside her came out as she turned to meet his stare.
“Get-out-of-my-head.”
It only made him lean in closer, enhancing her feeling of complete helplessness. “Rey-you’ve seen the map. It’s in there. And I am going to take it. Don’t be afraid.”
Where the strength to defy him came from she did not know, but if anything, her voice grew a little stronger. “I’m not giving you anything.”
His response reflected his unconcern. “We’ll see.”

This entire section is the same in both versions.

Description
Ah, he thought to himself. Something there, of interest. Not the image of the map. That would take another moment. But definitely something worth investigating. He shifted his perception toward it, seeking to identify, to analyze, to-
The barrier he encountered stopped him cold. And it was he, Kylo Ren, who blinked. It made no sense. He pushed, hard, with his mind-and the probe went nowhere.

As described in the script:

He peers into her eyes intensely. She meets his gaze — DESPITE THE PAIN SHE IS STRONG. On Ren’s face as HIS CONFIDENCE BEGINS TO MELT AWAY. He has slammed up against a barrier in her mind. He looks less certain by the moment as Rey seems to GROW IN STRENGTH. The > FEROCITY of confrontation builds until it hits critical mass AND REY DOES THE UNTHINKABLE! SHE ENTERS HIS HEAD, AMAZED AT WHAT SHE IS SEEING!

In the film the impression the audience gets is Rey manages to tap into the Force and forces him out. In the novel, she’s helpless until he hits an existing barrier of some kind after sensing something unexpected. Interestingly, the script also references a barrier.

A look of amazement replaced the fear on Rey’s face as she discovered herself inside his mind. Stunned at the realization, she found herself inexorably drawn to-to…
“You,” she heard herself saying clearly, “you’re afraid. That you will never be as strong as-Darth Vader!”

In the book, Kylo is then summoned to talk to Snoke. In the film, he stares at Rey and leaves.


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