Rogue One is one of my least favorite Star Wars movies. I just don’t find it compelling or interesting, and I don’t care about any of the characters. That being said, it still has interesting things to say, even if some of them aren’t particularly profound.
Along with The Last Jedi, this movie probably does the most to expand knowledge of the Force since the Original Trilogy films. It gives a lot to think about in regards to the Force being with everyone, as long as they are able to find it within themselves to tap into it. I think that has a lot to do with why people are drawn to this movie. Its ideas about spirituality are unique for the type of film this is.
Even still, it has some core ideas that help anchor it as a Star Wars movie, making it a worthy addition to the canon.
Family and Connection
From the very beginning of this movie, it is obvious that Galen Erso’s drive in life is to protect others, specifically the ones he loves, from evil. He gives himself up self-sacrificially so that his daughter can escape the potential clutches of evil.
But Galen doesn’t give himself up to Krennic and the Empire just so Jyn can get away. He ends up putting an ingenious failsafe into the supposedly indestructible Death Star, which essentially saves an entire galaxy. Galen has an idea about right and wrong, and he believes so strongly in the light that he is willing to put his whole lifetime of work on the line to save all of these people.
Similarly, once Jyn learns that her father is still alive, her one and only priority becomes finding him alive. He is her one last hope for family and connection. After living for years essentially as a drifter, the idea of finding the one living person who she knew ever really cared for her is almost impossible to resist.
Eventually, Jyn will need to learn to move on from her father’s death and make other friendships based on their connection. Seeing Galen’s death and how it affects Jyn is one of the most impactful scenes of the movie because of how much you really feel it. Because of the sacrifices Galen made in his life to keep Jyn safe, she is able to learn and make he own sacrifices to keep the galaxy safe. Once she finds that Galen named the all-important file Stardust after his nickname for her, she knows she has the strength to do what needs to be done. Jyn finds love and companionship in Cassian as they both attempt to complete the same mission.
The bonds that you form with other people can cause you to think of them as family. You will place them in a position of prominence in your life due to their influence on you. This is exactly what happens with Jyn and Cassian at the end – they are bonded by friendship and a similar mission, and they die in each other’s arms. They aren’t romantically involved, though. They simply have an important connection.
The Force, Even for Non-Jedi
As I mentioned earlier, this film does a lot to show that the Force isn’t just for Jedi and Sith to have awesome lightsaber duels. It’s an idea. It’s a way of life and a way of thinking.
Chirrut’s now-iconic, “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me” exemplifies everything that the Force can be and represent. He isn’t a Jedi, but he is able to connect with the ever-living force and find an unparalleled peace from it. Chirrut believes that the Force is at the center of everything, which it is. But he is able to tap into this idea more than most other people.
This is the idea that if you have faith, there is nothing you can’t do. It doesn’t have to be a specific faith or dogma, such as the Jedi or Sith ideology – it is just a faith in something greater than yourself to guide you and teach you.
Chirrut believes he doesn’t need to worry about anything because the Force has its own priorities. It promotes the idea that there is nothing to worry about. Just have faith and put the rest aside and you will prosper. It works for Chirrut – he has a fulfilling and essentially carefree life due to his strong belief in the Force and it works out well for him.
The beauty in this movie comes from the fact that none of the characters do what they do because they are forced to. Extenuating circumstances have brought them to where they are, but no one told them they needed to do the right thing. They all choose to do the right thing.
It all starts with Galen choosing to put the secret flaw in the Death Star from the very beginning. He knows the risk and that it could eventually cost him his life, but he believes so strongly in doing the right thing and saving those he loves that he looks at it as a necessary risk. By the time of his death, Galen thinks so much of his life has been wasted. But if he took a step back, he would see all of the good that his choices brought into the world.
Jyn and Cassian are the ones who most exemplify the importance of making the right choice. Jyn tells the Rebellion that their only choice is to fight. This isn’t to say that they are forced into this decision – it shows how far they have come that there is now no turning back. The Rebellion has made their choice – they are going to fight and take down the Empire no matter the cost. Even as far down the line as the rebel soldier at the end making sure the plans are passed on to Leia. It’s always easy to give up, but he chose to push through and persevere.
Similarly, Cassian has the same choice Han Solo will later have – he can lead when things get really tough. But he chooses to stay. He, along with the rest of the crew, chooses self-sacrifice over selfishness.
We may not have an evil Empire to defeat in our everyday lives, but we do have legitimate important choices to make constantly. Making the right one is important.
This theme shows just how much of a setup for the next chronological movie, A New Hope, plays into Rogue One’s themes. Large amounts of hope will be needed when taking on a task as daunting as trying to defeat the evil Empire.
As Andy Dufresne puts it in (the much, much better film) The Shawshank Redemption, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” This is the prevailing and underlying idea of Rogue One. The Rebellion’s hope will not die, and that’s because they know of its inherent goodness.