How Star Wars: Rogue One Is a Stark Look in the Mirror
Is Rogue One Us?
WARNING: Spoiler Alerts. If you haven’t seen the movie, are really sensitive to Star Wars in general, or could care less about Star Wars, don’t read any further. There is talk about what is happening in the new Star Wars movie.
Being a child of the 70’s, I grew up on Star Wars. To my ten-year old mind, I wanted to join the Rebel Alliance and fight the Empire. Playing with my neighborhood friends, ‘Cops and Robbers’ transformed into ‘Rebels and Stormtroopers’ and no one wanted to be the bad guys. It was magical.
As I grew up, I went to see each installment of the series with glee and was even able to stomach through the second (or first) trilogy with the horrid Jar Jar Binks and the wooden acting of Hayden Christensen. Hell, it was Star Wars. How could you not enjoy it?
When ‘The Force Awakens’ came out in 2015, now in my late forties, I still enjoyed the films and was eager to hand over my money, grab a popcorn and sit back into the world of sci-fi fantasy. But now we have Rogue One…
Rogue One is much darker than most of the other films in the series, which were, for the most part, directed towards children, but enjoyable by adults. The film is, per usual, visually stunning and there is plenty of action. Lucasfilms goes to great, painstaking trouble not to disappoint on the visual scale. Everything is bigger, better, and chock full of laser sounds and huge explosions.
The premise of the film is that a young girl of probably 6-8 years old is forced to see her mother killed and her father abducted for his scientific knowledge. She outruns a highly, technologically advanced group of soldiers and hides in an underground cubby hole, created by her father, until she is rescued by a family friend.
Fast forward to sometime in the future, another guy is introduced, who is basically a French resistance fighter from WW2 (even though the actor is Spanish), who finds out that the evil Empire is building a massive weapon and who is behind its creation. He then kills the guy.
Fast forward, again, and some teenage girl, who looks like the little girl, is a prisoner for some unknown crime and she’s having flashbacks of the events from the opening, so we can assume she is the same little girl we saw earlier, grown up. She’s rescued by the French guy.
Fast forward (are you seeing a trend here?), the French guy takes her to the Rebel Alliance and they tell her they want her to get an introduction to “some guy” who knows her father. If she doesn’t agree, they are going to give her back to the Empire.
From here, the movie - from a story point - goes downhill. The “some guy” turns out to be an old alien with a portable C-Pap machine, who knows her father is building the Death Star and has put a flaw into it.
In the meantime, our reluctant duo meet up with an odd batch of Rebel sympathizers and they fight in the streets until the whole city gets blown up by a newly finished Death Star and they get away in the nick of time, just like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Lando Calrissian from the previous films.
The movie is basically a space version of ‘The Magnificent Seven’, minus one. They get sent on a suicide mission to get the plans for the Death Star and are vastly outnumbered. Note: You don’t know any of them from the previous Star Wars movies, so you can guess the painfully obvious conclusion to the movie.
Wrapping my head around what I just saw, it dawned on me that the movie, while ripping off Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Japanese masterpiece, the Seven Samurai, was a metaphor for our real world.
It’s a macrocosm (because nothing can be as big as a Star Wars film) of our world and you might not like the visualization.
The Empire is US.
I mean US as in the United States as seen by the rest of the third world. That’s right. In the eyes of Star Wars, we are the bad guys.
The Empire was once a beacon of hope for the entire galaxy and they held a high position in the Intergalactic Senate (our world’s version of the UN). They fought other people’s wars when evil warlords tried to take over other groups of people. They offered aid to others and people wanted to join the Republic because it was a good thing. Then, one day, corrupted forces decided they didn’t need the UN…err…the Senate anymore and worked from within, through clandestine methods, to undermine the whole system.
Certain people (or world’s rebelled). They weren’t going to have a group of war-mongering tyrants tell them how to live their lives. They dressed funny, have all the fancy war ships, and no one works unless you are part of the fighting forces. For actual labor, they look to take from lesser nations and if that world has valuable resources, then they steal it.
Even the settings validate this claim. The group meets up on a planet called Jedha, which is surprisingly similar sounding to the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. We see people, dressed in red, from head to toe, which can only be described as some sort of sci-fi burka, and the streets are a maze of tightly packed shops and throngs of people, similar to medinas throughout the Middle East. Here is where the small groups of rebels blow up the Empire troops with small explosive devices and gunfire from the rooftops and within small windows.
If you interchanged the uniforms and costumes of Jedha with Fallujah, you’d have a similar movie set.
The Empire is basically the United States as seen through the eyes of small, energy-rich countries (or planets). To sum up this theory, the Empire is basically known by these traits:
- They are super wealthy.
- None of them work, except in the military.
- If you are not with the Empire, you are against them.
- They have weapons of mass destruction, which they aren’t afraid to use.
- The Empire is greedy for natural resources.
The Rebellion is consisted up of:
- Small, poor worlds.
- Having some technology, but woefully outmatched by the spending power of the Empire.
- They blow Imperial things up via small explosions and groups.
- They worship a strange religion that the Empire considers ancient.
- Some of the Empire follows this religion, but a different version of it.
- All the Rebellion wants is to overthrow the Empire on their planet and get out from under their thumb.
No one in the United States wants to hear this, of course, but it is pretty obvious that’s what the film is intended to show. We root for the Rebellion because, you know, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. However, what we fail to see is the United States IS the Empire as viewed through the eyes of the Middle East and other third world countries. Maybe the movie is supposed to be a glorified version of one of Aesop’s Fables; trying to tell us to be better people or we will eventually suffer. If that is the crux of Star Wars, then kudos to George Lucas and Disney. I’d like to hope that the moral of this story is to understand each other and not be a tyrant.
Comment on your thoughts and let me know what you think. Do you see the connection or the observation is way off base?