Crawl won­der

Rogue One was in­spired by A New Hope’s open­ing crawl. We an­a­lyse those fa­mous yel­low words for in­tel…

SFX - - Rogue one a star wars story -

“Jyn is not like some of the other char­ac­ters in other Star Wars films where it’s sort of been their pre-des­tiny to be­come the hero, that in some mag­i­cal way it was al­ways go­ing to be the case that they would save the galaxy,” says Ed­wards. “Jyn was on a tra­jec­tory to have a to­tally dif­fer­ent life, and some­thing hap­pens early on in the film and early on in her life that shat­ters ev­ery­thing and sends her on a dif­fer­ent path. I wanted it to feel this was not some­one who was born to be a soldier, that she was meant for some­thing else and got forced into that life. This might not end well for her, and I think that makes you more in­vested rather than some­one who’s just tough from day one and kicks ass all the time.”


Like The Force Awak­ens, Rogue One is an­chored by a fe­male lead. It’s an idea that ex­isted in ILM ef­fects whiz (and Pho­to­shop co-cre­ator) John Knoll’s orig­i­nal story treat­ment for the movie, and an el­e­ment that Ed­wards was al­ways keen to re­tain. “Part of the process of mak­ing this film was to look at the in­gre­di­ents that make A New Hope and then flip a load of them and see what works,” he re­calls. “The ob­vi­ous one is that the hero is a male, so how about a fe­male hero here? That seemed a good choice. It’s like with Alien, where the clas­sic story is that they didn’t write Ri­p­ley for a woman, they wrote it for a man, and at the last minute did a cast­ing choice change where it be­came Sigour­ney Weaver. I think if we swapped Jyn to­day to a male, there’s noth­ing in there re­ally that would


con­tra­dict that. Jyn’s not writ­ten as a girl, she’s writ­ten as a per­son, and it just hap­pened to be a woman that we cast.”

While some veter­ans of the Re­bel­lion are back in ac­tion – we’ve al­ready seen Rebel leader Mon Mothma, Jimmy Smits has strongly hinted his Bail Organa will cameo, and we sus­pect there’s a strong chance of Princess Leia be­ing back with her clas­sic hairdo by the end cred­its – Jyn will be ac­com­pa­nied on her mis­sion by a whole new team. And just be­cause this is a Star Wars pre­quel doesn’t mean we have to have Jar Jar Binks – these guys would eat him for break­fast.

There’s Rebel in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna); his en­forcer droid K-2SO (a per­for­mance-cap­tured Alan Tudyk); blind, monk­ish wor­ship­per of the Jedi faith Chirrut Îmwe (Don­nie Yen); his friend and pro­tec­tor Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen); pi­lot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed); and veteran Rebel Saw Gerrera (For­est Whi­taker, rein­vent­ing a char­ac­ter who first ap­peared in the Clone Wars car­toon). Ed­wards says he’s keen that each one of them should have a his­tory – even if it’s not re­told in mas­sive de­tail on screen.

“What’s so good about the back­sto­ries in Star Wars is with Han Solo, even Luke with his fa­ther, you don’t get, like, a 10-minute con­ver­sa­tion about it,” he ex­plains. “You just skim that Han owes money to Jabba, and that’s kind of it, or you’re told in the first Star Wars that Luke’s dad was a pi­lot, and he was killed by Darth Vader. It’s very short lit­tle ideas, and they set your imag­i­na­tion run­ning. Ev­ery­body has a back­story in our film, and ev­ery­body has some­thing that hap­pened to them that caused them to be in this sit­u­a­tion [fight­ing the Em­pire]. We have an en­sem­ble, so [it’s about] ser­vic­ing all those char­ac­ters in a way that doesn’t in­ter­fere with the pace of the film and the story – hope­fully we’ve got the bal­ance right, with enough hints and glimpses, but never the whole thing. Some novel can pur­sue what that story was about!”

Be­ing set im­me­di­ately be­fore A New Hope puts Rogue One in a tricky po­si­tion. We know what the Star Wars uni­verse looked like in that time pe­riod be­cause

we’ve been watch­ing the orig­i­nal movie for nearly 40 years. But in the sub­se­quent four decades, vis­ual ef­fects have moved on to the point where pretty much any­thing a film­maker can imag­ine can be put on screen. How do you rec­on­cile those two fac­tors?

“We’ve tried to be care­ful with the whole se­duc­tion of CG,” Ed­wards re­as­sures us. “It’s re­ally tempt­ing, be­cause you can do cer­tain things now you want to do them. And there’s a lan­guage to cin­ema that’s evolved a bit be­cause of that, which is not the same lan­guage that you had in A New Hope, Em­pire and Jedi. So we’ve been try­ing to do things vis­ually in the com­puter that you can only re­ally do with mod­els and prac­ti­cal film­ing, and we’re be­ing care­ful to try and po­lice that.”


In a sim­i­lar way, the new space­ships and Stormtrooper de­signs (like the black-clad Deathtroop­ers) that fea­ture in Rogue One have all been cre­ated to stay faith­ful to the X-Wings, TIE Fight­ers and other de­sign clas­sics they’ll be ap­pear­ing along­side – af­ter all, just be­cause we didn’t see them in the orig­i­nal tril­ogy doesn’t mean they didn’t ex­ist in some other far-flung cor­ner of the galaxy.

“In your brain you think Star Wars is 50% sci-fi and 50% his­tor­i­cal/real world, but it’s re­ally like 90% his­tor­i­cal/real world and 10% science fic­tion,” Ed­wards ex­plains. “To the point where when they were de­sign­ing all the weapons and the guns, one of the first faux pas I com­mit­ted is they would show me ideas for guns for Deathtroop­ers. They’d have all these dif­fer­ent de­signs and you’d say, this one feels too an­ti­quated, this one feels like some­thing they’d have in World War 2. They’d say that’s ex­actly the Stormtrooper weapon from A New Hope. [Back then] they were just grab­bing real world guns and cos­tume, and just do­ing a lit­tle thing to it that made it feel like


Star Wars – if you go too far it’s Flash Gor­don, or it’s Star Trek.

“If you look at the [orig­i­nal de­sign­ers] Ralph McQuar­rie and Joe John­ston and ev­ery­one else, they have a cer­tain aes­thetic that they can’t shake off, and it’s re­ally great,” he con­tin­ues. “You see a lot of repet­i­tive shapes and ideas. An ob­vi­ous one is that the Death Star looks very sim­i­lar to the top of R2-D2’s head. It’s got all the same pro­por­tions, and you see these shapes re­cur­ring through­out, so the trick was to try and look at those shapes and sub­con­sciously copy them and put them into de­signs. “But it’s like a dream sit­u­a­tion to be try­ing to come up with the ship you didn’t see in the orig­i­nal tril­ogy that feels like it might ex­ist. That took ages, about six months. There were lit­er­ally thou­sands of de­signs – we didn’t go, ‘Okay, let’s de­sign a U-Wing [re­fer­ring to a new Rebel craft with a star­ring role in the movie].’ It’s let’s do what­ever looks good and then we’ll pick a let­ter of the al­pha­bet that it most looks like!” Of course, it wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie without a cou­ple of new plan­ets, and Rogue One is no ex­cep­tion – there’s the beau­ti­ful trop­i­cal is­land world of Scarif (played in real life by the Mal­dives), and Jedha, a desert planet that’s like a holy land for the Jedi (now pub­lic en­emy num­ber one in Pal­pa­tine’s Em­pire). Its pres­ence is de­signed to show the other side of war, be­yond the spec­tac­u­lar con­flicts that usu­ally form the foun­da­tions of the Star Wars fran­chise. “War’s not just fight­ing,” says Ed­wards. “I know it sounds silly to say that, but it’s also the af­ter­math and the price that you pay. Jedha’s sup­posed to rep­re­sent the oc­cu­pied ter­ri­tory and the con­se­quence of not be­ing able to do any­thing

against the Em­pire. The con­cept of that was that if we didn’t stop this thing, you’d wit­ness this kind of op­pres­sion across the whole galaxy, so the film is pep­pered through­out with im­agery of the con­se­quence of let­ting evil take over.

“I didn’t want to purely make a war film,” Ed­wards laughs, “but there’s a lot of vi­su­als in there that I re­ally like and I was itch­ing as a

Star Wars fan to see!”


And that fan el­e­ment is likely to be a key factor here. Like JJ Abrams, Episode VIII di­rec­tor Rian John­son, Episode IX’s Colin Trevor­row and the Han Solo pre­quel’s Phil Lord and Christo­pher Miller, Ed­wards grew up on Star Wars, he gets it, it’s part of his film­mak­ing DNA. He waxes lyri­cal about play­ing with fig­ures as a kid, and re­calls con­ver­sa­tions with his di­rec­tor of pho­tog­ra­phy where they’d say, “‘This doesn’t feel right does it, that’s not quite

Star Wars,’ and we’d do a lit­tle tweak and it feels like Star Wars again.” In­deed, de­spite ru­mours of ex­tra reshoots and other di­rec­tors tak­ing over the edit – all un­con­firmed, we should add – Ed­wards cer­tainly makes you feel like the movie is in good hands.

“I wish some­one had told me 30-40 years ago that I was go­ing to get to do this, be­cause I would have spent my whole life try­ing to fig­ure it out,” he laughs. “The prob­lem is, I never in my wildest dreams thought this was go­ing to hap­pen. I thought Ge­orge was go­ing to make six films and that was it, and then when they did the Dis­ney an­nounce­ment, I thought great, I can’t wait to see those. And then when you think, ‘Hang on, I may be in the run­ning, oh my god I’m go­ing to get to do one...’ sud­denly there’s this switch that flicks. Be­cause when Star Wars gets it right it lasts for a life­time.”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens on 15 De­cem­ber.

Go­ing on what we see in the Rogue One trailer, we sus­pect this is the base on Yavin IV – still the Rebels’ home in A New Hope. We all know that

Rogue One is about the mis­sion to steal those in­fa­mous Death Star plans – it’s the movie’s main sell­ing point. But this line hints at some­thing else go­ing on, that Jyn Erso and the team’s spy mis­sion will take place against the back­drop of a ma­jor bat­tle – a skir­mish PO­TEN­TIAL SPOILER! the Rebel Al­liance will win. The X-Wings in ac­tion and AT-ASTs­tar­ring ground as­saults in the trail­ers would seem to bear this out. In Star Wars Rebels we see small Rebel cells and a nascent Al­liance en­gaged in mi­nor strikes against the Em­pire. The con­flict clearly es­ca­lates sig­nif­i­cantly in the in­ter­ven­ing five years. We’ve known for nearly 40 years that this means Darth Vader. Does this hint that the Sith Lord, al­ready con­firmed to ap­pear in the movie, will be a ma­jor player in the fi­nal act? Per­haps Kren­nic brings him into play when he re­alises the plans have gone AWOL. Ru­mour has it that

Rogue One fin­ishes just 10 min­utes be­fore

A New Hope kicks off. Does that mean the film will end with Leia, Cap­tain An­tilles, R2-D2 and C-3PO re­ceiv­ing the plans on the Tan­tive IV block­ade run­ner? Di­rec­tor Gareth Ed­wards is re­luc­tant to con­firm. “It would kind of be a real spoiler,” he says, “but the film is def­i­nitely the events that lead up to A New Hope, and so how close it gets I want to leave for the au­di­ence to find out when they go see it.”

Won­der if he feels con­spic­u­ous as the only one not in black? Stormtroop­ers on their hol­i­days! Okay, not re­ally.

Will you be able to pre­dict what Saw Gerrera does from watch­ing The Clone Wars?

Deathtroop­ers by name… The op­po­site of that scene in Raiders?

The Rebel Al­liance is (rea­son­ably) safe in Erso and Andor’s hands.

Booked your IMAX seats yet? Be­cause ev­ery­one needs a droid. Yes, but has he got Han’s shoot­ing ac­cu­racy?

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