From what is arguably the world’s biggest film franchise, the standalone Star Wars blockbuster was an ambitious undertaking. The story is a true exploration of the numerous references to the notorious ‘plans’ made in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy…”
– Title cards, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Almost 40 years on, and we are finally able to see this heroic act of rebellion, and the small band of people involved. It’s a fresh take on the Star Wars universe, and while familiar faces do appear in order to satisfy our need for fan service, the lack of Jedi and other important officials offers an exciting perspective. It allows us to watch how the ramifications of war affect the layman.
It also allows us to move away from the dualism of the classic Star Wars stories of the light and dark sides of the Force. While obtaining the plans is shown for the valiant act that it is, we are also shown the less wholesome sides of the Rebellion. Saw Gerrera is labelled an extremist by the Rebellion and his breathing apparatus is very clearly a reflection of Darth Vader’s, and even Cassian Andor, a hero of the Rebellion, has killed allies and innocents in the quest for liberation from the Empire.
Rogue One shows us the groundwork that was laid for the ultimate victory by the Rebellion. The question that probes us briefly is this: do the ends justify the means? In our knowledge of the Star Wars universe, we still know that the Empire’s (and by extension the Sith’s) stranglehold on the galaxy is intolerable. But there are still uncomfortable moments that we are faced with when choosing a side.
‘Imperial flags reign across the galaxy!’
– Saw Gerrera, Rogue One
A repeated idea in the film is the concept of hope, and how important it is in the face of staggering odds. I concede that hope is important in this respect, but I think that the central theme of Rogue One is sacrifice, which sets it apart from A New Hope and The Force Awakens. Only with the sacrifice of Rogue One’s courageous crew were the following rebel victories possible.
Rogue One‘s importance in the Star Wars saga lies in its message that a new hope is only kindled through the sacrifices of the brave. And we can all be brave, even if we can’t all see the results of our sacrifice.