(Spoiler free + Personal health update)
If I had to convince a Star Wars outsider to join the fanbase with just one film – this is definitely the film I would pick.
I love Jynn Erso (Felicity Jones) as the main character. It is not because she is physically strong and female. She has motivations for her actions that are backed up by her life experiences. She trusts nobody. She learnt to think this way when she was estranged from her parents due to her father’s (Galen) involvement in the Galactic Empire’s weapons of mass destruction programme. This story is her journey to discovering what her purpose is. She is strongly guided by the wisdom of her father (and her faith in the Force). Her suffering is not in vain. She finds out the Empire’s weakness. She calls upon the Rebel Alliance to follow her. Those who follow her, trust her and know that she would not have suffered in vain unless she knew how to destroy the Empire’s WMD. Sure, she’s good at beating up stormtroopers who get in her way; but being good at MMA does not make you a hero.
The conflict in general is well characterised by infighting and divisions on both sides of the conflict. The Empire’s WMD is Director Krennic‘s (Ben Mendelsohn) baby. Despite only cracking the whip on the WMD’s development scientists (as well as kidnapping Galen), he wants all the credit for the weapon’s completion and he wants the whole empire to know it. He is looked down upon by his superiors Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader for his incompetence and they refuse to give him the credit he craves.
The Rebel Alliance’s Captain Cassian Andor operates like a soldier to begin with. He makes questionable decisions and acts on questionable orders from his superiors. He is the only character who really wrestles and tests Jyn. He knows her history but he listens to her and brings her massive of support within the Rebel Alliance. Also, his side-kick re-programmed Imperial Security robot (a.k.a. droid) K-2SO is the funniest character in the film without trying.
The thing that strikes me the most about Cassian, is how he shows regret for things he did for the Rebellion. This is quite a shock to the Star Wars system. We have been used to the Rebels being the good guys; and the Empire being the bad guys. In the Star Wars universe, you can make morally ambiguous or evil acts in the name of ‘the good guys’ (it has happened a lot throughout real history, why not in the Star Wars universe up until this film?).
The more I look at history (e.g. World War II Behind Closed Doors by Rees) or understand human nature (e.g. Lord of the Flies by Golding), I realise how universal human evil is in the hearts of all men . I do not believe that all humans (or aliens) are basically good (as the film’s director Gareth Edwards seems to). The Bible says evil is in the very heart of man. Jesus said evil does not begin in our actions but in our motives (see Matthew 5-7).
We see a tremendous amount of sacrifice in the final act of this film. Given how much conflict occurs in Star Wars exists, it does seem in the grand scheme of things to be in vain. However, the film emphasises sacrifice in a way no other Star Wars film does. Warfare is like this. Single acts within many battles involved in achieving the ultimate objection of victory come at a tremendous cost. Rogue One helps me to admire the sacrifice of those who died in wars to protect my freedom. Rogue One helps me admire the sacrifice of Jesus so I can know and receive the love of God.
If you are still not convinced to check out Rogue One. Please check out this trailer below.
For those of you who have not heard from me recently. I’m currently with my parents in Aberdeenshire. I’m in the final stages of my recovery. I am not sitting university exams this year, I will resume my medical studies in September. Looking forward to seeing people as the fog of the third (THREE MONTH) lock-down in Scotland clears.