Yes, it’s June, but I’m ending my Star Wars month with what I feel may be the most important Star Wars film ever made.
With Rogue One, Disney accomplished two things: It honored Star Wars past, and pushed it into the modern era of storytelling.
The result was a film that is in many ways the greatest entry into the entire saga.
Jean-Francios Lyotard wrote: “When the old totalizing systems of thought crumble, truth will emerge from the small-scale, individual, interaction.”
The genius of Rogue One is that it presents this theme both meta-physically, and in the landscape of the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Set directly after the Clone Wars, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards and his creative team decided to make a real war film that would sit right in the middle of the Campbellian space opera’s timeline. This gives great depth to the saga, because the enemy isn’t necessarily the burgeoning Death Star, but rather these characters’ battle with their own morality.
Here’s where the “small-scale” interactions come to play. Almost every important moment in the film happens with characters discussing something. That’s kind of the anthesis of action films, and Star Wars in general, but the action catapults from these interactions. Otherwise, it would be a talky bore.
In fact, the most important moment in the film — and possibly most gut-wrenching scene in the saga comes when our hero, Jyn Erso watched a hologram message from her father.
For those looking for a deeper thematic examination, this approach also works as a post-modern exercise in Star Wars. Normally that would make my eyes roll, but Rogue One manages to recognize the time in which it’s made, but necessarily endorse such ideas.
The Empire is still evil, and the good guys are still good — for the most part. Rogue One asks questions as to the lines one is prepared to cross during war, and it presents the Rebel Alliance in a previously inconceivable light: as just another bureaucracy in the way of every day people trying to make the world a better place.
Disney and Edwards also deserve immense credit for doing the creatively brave thing to kill off all of the heroes. In a world where so many films are conceived in corporate board rooms, this is alone a monumental achievement in modern genre cinema.
Like many elements in the Clone Wars and Rebels TV series, Rogue One is simply the heart of Star Wars, and because of that, I would never argue with anyone who lists this as their favorite — and best — film of the saga.