Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to a new era. It takes the best of the old and combines it with something completely new. The gate is now open for the biggest movie franchise to expand its X-Wings into territory never charted before and for starters let’s feast on the first film that took a risk to exist as a standalone film, simply named Rogue One. Rogue One consists of a six man crew: JYN ERSO (Felicity Jones), CASSIAN (Diego Luna), BODHI (Riz Ahmed), CHIRRUT IMWE (Donnie Yen), BAZE (Wen Jiang) and their loyal and friendly bag of metal parts K2SO (Alan Tudyk).
GALEN ERSO: ‘We call it the Death Star. There is no better name.’
This quote can be applied to the name of this movie ROGUE ONE. There is no better name for it. It is the first to wander off into new uncharted territory, and it has its own quirks. A vagabond rascal, it stands on its own feet and it is the first in the upcoming line of standalone movies. It has a completely different vibe from the overall atmosphere, a kind of authenticity, but it still contains the familiar elements that previous Star Wars movies established. It’s not a movie the audience needs, but it’s a movie the audience deserves.
GARETH EDWARDS: ‘The original Star Wars was binary, it’s good and evil. We’re more grey: good people doing bad things and bad people doing good things.’
I hope everyone is well aware of the fact that AN ANALYSIS can’t exist without SPOILERS.
REPEATING THE REPEAT
When STAR WARS: Episode VII The Force Awakens finally saw the light of day, most of the devout SW-fandom raged out that the movie is too similar to A New Hope. In fact, it isn’t just similar; it is ‘the same fuckin movie’, someone gibberished. Now with Rogue One, all this is forgotten, because Rogue delivered something that can be called truly original! Well, think again! Rogue One has taken most of the stuff The Force Awakens brought to the table.
- The leads are a female and a male, but there is no love story happening – Rey and Finn didn’t lock lips at the finale of The Force Awakens, and Jyn and Cassian followed their example
- The father ‘dies’ on a bridge – Han gave it up on a bridge in The Force Awakens, just as Jyn’s father Galen is killed on a platform resembling a bridge
- ‘I will finish what you started’ – Kylo Ren swears he will achieve the vision of his grandfather, just as Jyn promised her father to finish his plan destroying the Death Star
- Death Star/Starkiller base. Nuff’ said.
- Test run of the Planet destroyer – In The Force Awakens the Starkiller base had to be tested and it wiped out a few planets where important people had their meeting and in Rogue One the ‘test run’ destroyed Jedha City
- Imperial Staff defecting – In The Force Awakens, Finn defects from his position as a Stormtrooper, Bodhi is a defected Imperial Pilot, and both Finn and Bodhi help the Rebellion to get inside the Imperial headquarters with the knowledge they gained when they worked for the Dark side
- The whole movie is about finding plans – In The Force Awakens everyone is looking for the map to find Luke Skywalker and in Rogue One everyone is trying to get their fingers on the Death Star plans
- The main characters are female and non Force users – Rey and Jyn are the badass female leads audiences can admire and both don’t know what the Force is
- Droids with exceptional emotions – BB8 and K2SO both have the ability to express emotions – the little one is often sad, the big one is often sarcastic
- Destroying ancient Jedi locations – In The Force Awakens it’s Maz Kanata’s thousand year old castle, a Rebel hideout, which is destroyed before her eyes and in Rogue One it’s Saw Gerrera’s Rebel hideout and the centuries old Jedha City which are completely devastated
- Abandoned child – Just as Rey is abandoned by her parents as a child on the Planet Jakku, Jyn is abandoned by her father. Also, both female leads had to find their own way to survive
- Flashbacks, Visions, Memories – Both female leads have special flashbacks and visions from their past
- Third act of the movie plays out in a forest – In The Force Awakens the showdown happened in the snow-covered forest of the Starkiller base, just as in Rogue One the planet Scarif had an improvised palm-tree forest
- Just as Lor San Tekka told Poe ‘this will make things right’ as a wink to the audience that the movie The Force Awakens is a worthy comeback to the franchise, Saw Gerrera is screaming to Jyn ‘Save the Rebellion! Save the dream!‘, referencing Rogue One which will make a difference in the Star Wars universe and children will be able to dream about this movie like the kids from the 70’s when Star Wars first appeared.
WHAT MAKES ROGUE ONE A STAR WARS FILM?
First of all, it has a long established tradition that the main plot revolves around a family which is going to fall apart. Just as Anakin and Padme fell apart, thanks to the Empire, the relationship of Anakin with Luke and Leia is a complete disaster, and now the family of Jyn Erso is also destroyed by the Empire. There seems to be a pattern about families in the galaxy far, far away: Don’t have one, ‘it will fall apart.’ It is ironic how the Star Wars movies became the ultimate family movies despite having their anti family themes. Next up are the intergalactic fights between X-Wings and Empire battleships in the outer ring of the galaxy. It is an image form the old days brought back for the audience which can’t imagine a Star Wars movie without it. By throwing a Death Star, a red lightsaber, a dark Sith Lord and a half-witted droid in the mix, everything fell into place for the ‘maybe’ best Star Wars film to date. What makes it a ‘new’ kind of Star Wars is the way the characters are handled. It is basically a redemption story, as opposed to a good versus evil cut-out plot of the past.
RIZ AHMED: ‘All the characters are trying to settle with their past in one way or another.’
Redemption will be established if a character is being saved from his sins or is clearing a debt from the past. So, let’s see who has sinned or who has some debts to clear.
JYN: ‘What is this?’
MON MOTHMA: ‘It is a chance to make a fresh start!’
- GALEN ERSO – He created the Death Star, so he tries to restore his guilty consciousness by placing a flaw inside it and sending out the message on how to destroy it.
- CASSIAN – He did who knows what in the name of the Rebellion. He is a murderer, a spy, a criminal, everything bad you can imagine, but he has a good heart, and tries to find a reason to justify doing all these nasty deeds. By joining the Rogue One team he knows where he is heading and what he is trying to accomplish with a clear goal in his mind. He needed purpose, now he found one.
- JYN – After Saw abandoned her, she had to find all kinds of means to survive, so she stole, killed, forged documents, assaulted who knows who, but the only thing she really wanted was her family back and to lead a normal peaceful life. After Galen died, she understands that his death should not be in vain, so she takes over his mission to destroy the Death Star. By creating a Rogue One unit she wants to redeem her father’s name, remove his guilt and restore her own image.
- BODHI – He is the pilot who Galen sends out to tell Saw that there is a fantastic chance to destroy the metal moon with the angry eye. Bodhi realized too late that the Empire he worked for was evil and will stop at nothing. He is a cargo pilot, but it seems he saw a lot of unfortunate stuff which pushed him to join the other side. Galen couldn’t find a better person to deliver the message.
- CHIRRUT IMWE and BAZE – Both lost their home Jedha and joined Cassian and Jyn, because they didn’t have another choice. However, Cassian told Jyn something when they came to Jedha: ‘they are the Guardians of the Whills, the protectors of the Kyber Temple. But there is nothing left to protect, so they’re just causing trouble for everybody’. It seems they stir up trouble where it isn’t needed. Later in the film they repeat their Modus Operandi, by shamelessly throwing into Cassian’s way and the rest of the gang without asking, and when Jyn went on her self-proclaimed rescue mission out on the platform to get to her father, they came after her not bothering about the consequences. By joining Rogue One they finally are coming to their terms and they gave it all to help others.
SYMBOLISM AND METAPHORS
Just like in The Force Awakens, the biggest MOTIF that catches the eye of the audience is the circle a.k.a. the Death Star. You can’t miss it. Although it can represent a loop, this time around it represents only the worldview of the characters inside the movie. The Death Star looks like a giant Eye that is controlling the galaxy and the Empire is trying to force their ideology upon everybody else. The Death Star is the dusk, dawn and darkness, because it tries to convey the meaning that it is always there, everywhere and someone needs to stop it.
The DEATH STAR PLANS that Jyn and Cassian stole are in the form of a hard disc, but if you pay close attention you can see it is a smaller circle on top of a bigger circle, the smaller being the Death Star, the bigger being a planet the Death Star is about to destroy. It is also fantastically imagined that the beam of the Death Star is represented through a small fillister on the small circle and on the planet underneath the fillister is much bigger, thus giving the illusion of the beam widening as it approaches the planet.
There are far MORE CIRCLES inside the movie, too many to mention. One of them is connected to Jyn’s past. She hid in a shelter as a child and her life comes full circle when she is locked up again in the Citadel on Scarif. The first time she only hid from her enemies, but this time, the audience can examine character development; she is doing something about it. She goes all the way to get the plans of the Death Star and manages to help the Rebellion.
In the scene where Jyn is brought to Mon Mothma in order to get an opportunity for a fresh start, Mon Mothma, Cassian and Jyn are in front of a SCREEN WITH MARKINGS on them. Each of them has a different pattern and each means something else. Jyn’s pattern is chaotic, lines go up and down and cross each other out. No real pattern is evident, because in that moment Jyn is completely confused. She was rescued, brought there in handcuffs and questioned about her ‘maybe’ dead father she hasn’t seen in years. The screen reflects her inner struggle.
Cassian’s pattern is fairly obvious. The pattern shows a bunch of circles narrowing, representing focus. He has a mission that needs to be completed and he is only focused on that. The circles are also a giveaway that he has the information that a moon is destroying planets. Mon Mothma’s background pattern is the clearest. Her patterns shows diagonal lines presented in nice intervals, because she has control over her emotions, a dominant opinion and there is no room for a mistake. Also, the diagonal lines represent movement, direction, an illusion of perspective; she has a goal that needs to be conquered.
In the trailers Darth Vader is also seen in front of a pattern. His pattern has red circles and lines, and it is clear what they represent, because they have the shape of the Death Star and some planet the Death Star is about to destroy. Jeez, this guy has only destruction on his mind.
Each planet has its own CASTLE/TOWER/CITADEL with a big pointed top directed to the sky. They are pretty long, thin and look like arrows. All of these buildings get destroyed, except Darth Vader’s castle on Mustafar. The symbolic meaning of a tower/castle is they give comfort, security and most of all hope. Everyone in the galaxy is building a castle, so they can have and share comfort for the future. Everyone, except the Rogue One Team. They have no home, they have nothing to come back to, and they are on their own. When these buildings get destroyed, no hope is in sight, but Jyn still manages to get a handful of people to trust her, because ‘the Rebellion is built on hope‘.
Only Rebel base on Yavin 4 is made up of a ziggurat, a pyramid shape building our world encountered in the time of Mesopotamia. This kind of construction is a symbol for human development; it represents the time for change.
During the movie the audience is shown various shots from JYN’S POINT OF VIEW, but they are all in the first half of the movie. Why? First of all, every one of these shots shows some kind of threat. It’s either the Death Troopers, or the destruction of Jedha or some other nasty shit. After the first half of the movie she decides to form the Rogue One Team and from then on, not one P-O-V shot is shown, because she wants to see only the good things happening. Also, it is a foreshadowing that she is going to die.
Galen Erso calls his little girl STARDUST. Not only is it a cute nickname, but it is a foreshadowing element for the whole movie. Everyone in this movie died from an explosion of some kind: Saw by the Death Star beam, Chirrut got blown away, Bodhi and Baze pulverized, Krennic couldn’t escape his food cup of lasers to the head, the same goes for Jyn and Cassian who were erased from existence. They all exploded so they could become stardust, a magical and fairy tale-ish element that gives this Star Wars movie a feeling the audience rooted for.
In the beginning of the movie Jyn’s mother LYRA (Valene Kane) gives Jyn a piece of KYBER CRYSTAL as a necklace with the guideline ‘Trust the Force’. By giving her that the audience easily assumed, aha, Jyn will be a force-user, but no siree, no, it is a road that leads to nowhere. Later on in the film Jyn looks at her necklace just one more time, in the scene when Rogue one has to enter the base on Scarif. It is a little moment of reminiscence, but nothing else. These scenes are not there to tell the audience she used the Force, but to establish her positive character.
CHIRRUT IMWE: ‘Her path is clear.’
The kyber crystal around Jyn’s neck mirrors her pure heart, because it is located on her chest near her heart.
CHIRRUT IMWE: ‘The strongest stars have hearts of Kyber.’
GARETH EDWARDS: ‘He (Vader) isn’t front and center in this film, but he is waiting in the wings. You do feel his presence throughout the movie.’
DARTH ‘fuckin-badass-of-the-galaxy’ VADER is only in a few scenes inside the movie, but as Edwards stated, he is felt throughout. He is represented as a doppelganger in the character of Saw Gerrera. Saw, lost both his legs, is more machine than a human being and he needs to breathe constantly through a mask, like he has asthma or something. There is also a scene when Bodhi is captured and the audience don’t see Saw right away, they only hear his deep and dusty breathing, just like in the scene when Darth Vader appears on the Rebel ship by the end of the movie.
One of the more SUBTLE SHOTS that explain a lot is when Galen Erso comes to the surface to confront Krennic. In this shot we see some of Galen’s inventions on the left side, on the right side Galen himself and in the middle, some yards away, Krennics ship that has some kind of W form (symbolic of willpower). This shot explains how Krennic stays between Galen and his research. Galen is smaller than his invention which puts the invention on a higher position then his own life. The threat is barely visible, but the wings of the ship look like sharp teeth. Speaking of which…
The castle of Darth Vader has all kinds of associations pointing towards teeth. His castle is a gateway inside the mouth of a demonic creature, born out of the lava where it perished.
SAW’S SUICIDE came as a surprise since he is a big character in The Clone Wars cartoon. The answer why he did is unfortunately in the trailers.
SAW: ‘What will you do when they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight, what will you become?’
In the trailer these questions are pointed towards Jyn, but actually they apply to him. He is in the war for so long, his mind got twisted and upside down, everything became a threat and he barely walks out of his cave. In THE DARK KNIGHT (Christopher Nolan, 2008.) a similar question is posed:
BATMAN: ‘Do you die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain?’
This applies to Saw. When the destruction had begun, he saw (no pun intended) a way out of his misery. He destroyed himself as a person and although he is against the Empire, in reality he is helping no one. He got his wake up call and decided to leave the building.
Also, a fantastic reference, the Ring of Kafrene, where Cassian goes to get the info about the Death Star, looks, feels and smells like the world of BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott, 1982.), complete with rusty pipes and overhead lights passing through the crowd.
While most of the audience guessed right that the Rogue One mission is a SUICIDE MISSION, the other half of the audience prayed till the end of the movie that the studios didn’t realize their thought. Unfortunately, there will be no Rogue Two. Throughout the last half of the movie there are hints about who will die first and second and so on.
The first one was, the Force blessed him, Chirrut Imwe. He died by a blow of the grenade. His staff, the only thing that defies him, is the foreshadowing element of his death. The staff represents number one.
The second one to go is Bodhi, unfortunately. He is also blown to bits while trying to transmit the signal to the Rebel fleet in space. He is the second because he was leaning on a box with two red vertical lines which clearly represent the number two.
The third one not to appear for supper the next day, my condolences, is Baze. He went down by wiping out every last one of the Death Troopers. His foreshadowing wasn’t in the form of a number written somewhere, no, he recited the same phrase three times.
BAZE: ‘I’m with the force, the Force is with me.’
Number four and five hooked on to each other so they are both able to see the world burn. They are transformed into stardust in mere seconds by the gigantic aftermath of Death Star’s lasers. (This is the moment when everybody should realize that Jyn died as a virgin.) What about K2SO? Well, he wasn’t alive to begin with and nobody really cared about Krennic, either.
THE NAMES, OH THE NAMES
The names of the characters mean some business, here it goes:
- JYN – Her name means gold in the Chinese language and it stands for ‘a heroine’. Cassian is protecting her, because she is ‘gold’ to him, and she is a heroine by saving the day
- CASSIAN – His name is Irish and it means curly headed man. In other words, a tough guy, just as he likes to be perceived.
- BODHI – It is a Sanskrit name and it means awakened, because he woke up in a nightmare controlled by the Empire and he immediately defected after he saw what the Empire does.
- CHIRRUT – His name contains two words, Chi and Rut. Chi is Chinese and means life force and energy, and Rut describes a low point. It fits perfectly because he is controlled by energy, the Force, and he has lost the meaning of his existence till Jyn and Cassian appeared.
- BAZE – It derives from Germany and it means mean, but not in a negative way. He is tough and has a mean face expression, but he has a soft heart inside him.
- SAW GERRERA – His name is Saw, as in he saw something, not to be confusing with chainsaw, and his surname is Spanish and it means war. So, his name means the one who saw the war. The Clone Wars, to be exact. That experience had a traumatic impact, because now, he is a broken man, paranoid and senseless.
GARETH EDWARDS: ‘Saw represents the archetype of a Rebel fighter who’s gone to the very edge.’
- GALEN – That name is Greek and it means calm. That describes why Galen is no man of action, he’s a weapon engineer, a geek, he can’t fight and he won’t. He strikes back the old fashion way, through knowledge.
- KRENNIC – That is Danish for Canon, and it fits perfectly, because he is the one who first destroys Jedha with a canon, the size of a moon.
Also, the names of the places shown in Rogue One have deeper meanings:
- JEDHA – The name is Arabic and it means ancestor of Woman. This name was chosen because it is the only moment in the movie where Jyn’s father Galen is in the same room as her ‘other’ father Saw. Galen is just a hologram, but Saw is there. Both of them raised her at some point in her life, so it does make sense to give the meeting point an extraordinary name.
- MUSTAFAR – This is the planet where Vader built his castle. Mustafar is also Arabic and means the chosen one or the great one. On one hand he is already chosen, as the audience had the chance to see it in the Star Wars prequels. On the other hand, now with a 20 year gap between his last appearance, he became the great one that audiences cherish and can’t wait to see. He isn’t a positive character, but he sure as hell is popular one.
- SCARIF – It is also an Arabic name and it means honourable or illustrious. Why? It’s simple. It’s called like that, because Rogue One team redeemed themselves by sending the plans to destroy the Death Star to the Rebellion. They died for the cause and that is honourable.
VERY PECULIAR MOMENTS
Rogue One is a standalone movie inside the Star Wars universe. As such, the team behind its realization tried to bring new things to the table so this movie could be different from the main saga. One of the new things is the missing crawl in the beginning of the movie. Also, the camera usually goes down after the crawl and a ship flies inside the frame, but this time it went up revealing a dusty ring of a planet, which indicates there are little quirks that deserve the audiences’ attention. Completely new are the title cards that tell the spectators on which planet the scene is taking place. Some fans liked it, some didn’t, but it doesn’t erase the fact that two scenes didn’t have a title card. One of them is Mustafar. Gareth Edwards said ‘it was a conscious decision, to make it more mysterious for the appearance of Vader‘. The second title card left out curiously is the first scene in the movie. The planet where Jyn, Galen and Lyra Erso lived some years seemed to be important (it’s called Lah’mu). Why would they do that? Obviously, it is a conscious decision, not a mistake. Well, to explain that, there is something else to be considered.
On the way to Jedha Jyn falls asleep and has a vision or more of a nightmare during that trip. She recalls getting up from the bed and going to the living room to see her parents. There the audience can see that Galen and Lyra Erso chit chat with Krennic and behind them there is a window, through which is clear that the city outside can only be Coruscant. That fact is also written in the book ‘Rogue One- A Star Wars story’ by Alexander Freed.
LYRA: ‘Coruscant will be fine, of course, but we’ll all feel guilty enjoying these meals while terrorism flourishes in the outer Rim.’
Now, this part is interesting. By talking with a friend and snooping around when this scene is supposed to be happening, this info pooped up:
According to Wookiepedia and the novel ‘Catalyst’ by James Lucano, Galen and Lyra married on Coruscant, but shortly after took their seven things and left for Vallt, where the stork brought Jyn into their homely home. Firstly, Galen and Krennic were friends and when Galen found out he is helping the devil, him and Krennic broke up. Galen and Lyra never returned to Coruscant, so the scene with Jyn is a fantasy, nothing more. In that fantasy Jyn is the same age as in the first scene of the movie and that scene doesn’t have a title card, so it’s not hard to image that this scene is in her fantasy as well. Most of all, after the Rogue One logo appeared the audience sees Jyn waking up in the cell. The whole prologue of the movie is a dream. It is true that Lyra died and that Krennic took Galen back to work on the Death Star, but some of that sequence isn’t what it seems. Like the Stormtrooper doll.
If Galen was against the Empire, why would he have a Stormtrooper doll? He hid from everything that is connected to the evil, but the doll doesn’t make sense. Who gave it to him? The Empire? But he escaped long before Jyn was born, so why would he have it at all? The doll may be a symbol of his and Lyra’s ambitions towards the Empire in the beginning of their employment. They were two naive engineers in love who wanted to help humanity, but they chose the wrong side to do it. So this doll represents the fascination they had with the Empire. Also, the doll is picked up by a Death trooper that is equally surprised as the audience.
The pilot Bodhi is questioned by the alien Bor Gullet about the message he brought to Saw Gerrera. Saw didn’t forget to mention that ‘one tends to lose his mind’ after Bor Gullet is finished with the victim, so why is Bodhi normal afterwards? The explanation is in the Rogue One book:
‘Bodhi Rook understood the distinction between past and present, between recollection and reality, he just wasn’t sure which was which anymore. Bor Gullet had taken everything Bodhi was – every intimate thought and dream, every cherished and forsaken memory – and torn through it with tendrils like scalpels.’
After Jedha, the team went to Eadu to allegedly save Galen and bring him to Yavin 4 for questioning. Cassian and Bodhi went to a high point of a mountain to observe the situation, but Cassian sends Bodhi back to the ship so he can kill Galen without him witnessing it. In the ship, Jyn nervously hops around till the sarcastic metal head spills the beans:
K2SO: ‘His weapon was in the sniper configuration.’
On top of that Chirrut didn’t help her by saying:
CHIRRUT IMWE: ‘The force moves darkly near a creature that’s about to kill.’
She somehow put two and two together and went outside by herself to save her papa. The audience knows that Cassian is about to kill Galen because he received an order to do so. He eventually gave up and helped Jyn instead, but the question remains, is Jyn bad at math? His weapon being in the sniper configuration doesn’t automatically mean he’s about to kill Galen, he might as well kill everyone surrounding Galen so Galen could escape without someone jumping on his neck. A very curious order of events.
Considering that this movie is made by the guy who made Godzilla (2014), which had enormous flaws, this movie equals a miracle. Everything fits perfectly. In this quantum bit of time the movie offered he established every character, brought a fantastic intergalactic battle to life and restored everything the so-called ‘fans of Star Wars’ hated in The Force awakens. Gareth Edwards took his time, a thousand reshoots and created something that is worth remembering for a long time to come. One hopes that the studios wouldn’t use the extra material to somehow create an extended edition or anything similar, but Edwards put everyone at ease.
GARETH EDWARDS: ‘The film is what it is. You know, I feel like it’s like a sport and they blow the whistle and you get the result. You won or you lost and I feel like what comes out in the cinema is Rogue One and it might be fun to look at little differences and stuff, but I don’t see how it would work that easily to start put other things back in and taking them out or whatever.’