It’s the sequel to the prequels and prequel to the originals; the first fraction in a nine volume set.
This month, Eve and I discuss Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Rogue One not only tells the story of how the Rebellion acquired the plans to the Empire’s massive super-weapon, the Death Star, but also answers a question that have plagued fans for decades! Join us as we discuss issues like the transformation of Jyn Erso from rebellious young adult to rebel leader and the use of the Force as the basis for a galactic religion.
Rogue One‘s composer is our old friend and Star Wars alum, Michael Giacchino (by my count, this is the seventh movie that Eve and I have discussed featuring his work). His work on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is even more impressive than usual, since he was only brought in on the project three months before the slated release of the blockbuster film. With Giacchino’s work on this film, he becomes the first composer besides John Williams to score a Star Wars franchise film. Rogue One isn’t his first foray into Star Wars, though: Michael Giacchino appeared as a Storm Trooper FN-3181 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Rogue One does a remarkable job capturing the fabric and feel of Star Wars episode IV: A New Hope, the film which takes place chronologically immediately after Rogue One but was released more than 38 years ago. The issue of spoilers for Rogue One is a bit unique since much of what happens, in the broad strokes, has been eluded to in other Star Wars media.
If you haven’t yet seen the movie, or want to get another’s take on it, be sure to check out the PluggedIn.com review for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story so you can get the low down on what to expect from a family friendly perspective.
General Impressions: The Spoilers Be With You
Rogue One embraces the definition of classic tragedy, yet somehow comes out as a “feel good movie.” Sure, the entire team dies, but they face their deaths valiantly, knowing that they die for a purpose greater than themselves.
There is a lot about Rogue One to like, but my hands-down most significant negative impression was embodied in the character of Cassian Andor . . . our first introduction to him shows him committing a cold-blooded murder while promising salvation.
Rogue One maintains the look and feel of the universe as established in A New Hope. The Erso homestead draws strongly upon the Lars farm on Tatooine, evoking the same sense of hiding and hermitage. The technology we see in Rogue One is the future tech of the 1970’s, not today (backup tape, anyone?). Of all the places that the creative team behind Rogue One strove to match the look and feel of A New Hope, no where is it more craftily done than in the epic space battle above Scarif. It was so well done that even the more dedicated viewers may find themselves wondering if they didn’t slip footage from Episode IV into the battle. One question arises, however, why multiple ships didn’t capture the plans, maximizing the chance of escape. But you’re not supposed to ask that as the epic battle leads seamlessly into the beginning of Episode IV.
Rogue One did embrace the opportunity to use the advances in the story medium to portray Dark Vader as the death dealing, hard core combat machine that he is. As he comes down the hallway, dispatching rebel soldiers as if they were mere rag dolls, you really get a better sense of why, at the beginning of A New Hope, the rebel soldiers are nearly wetting themselves in fear as they wait for the Sith Lord and his Storm Troopers to break through the barrier.
With the use of CGI likeness of a much younger Carrie Fisher and a much more alive Peter Cushing, Rogue One invokes the uncanny valley, where an attempt to mimic humanity comes close enough to creep people out. The thing is, whether or not the final product creeps you out is a matter of personal opinion. Me? Totally creeped out. Eve—not so much. She also points out that CGI characters fill roles that were integral to the story.
Testimonies of Rebellion: Why Do We Rebel?
A recurring theme of Rogue One, both foundational and subtle, is the what motivates each of the characters to rebel. For Galen Erso, it was a heartfelt desire to resist the Empire’s efforts to use his skills in the development and use of a super weapon.
For Jyn, her rebellion changed over the course of the story. First, she rebelled against vision of her extremist foster father by not just disavowing the rebellion, but consciously and actively staying out of the strife all together. For years, she sought to keep her head down and avoid any connections to either Empire or Rebellion. Granted, a portion of this was out of self-preservation; as Jyn herself stated, “I’ve never had the luxury of political opinions.” When confronted with others’ disbelief that it doesn’t matter to her what flag is flying over her, she responded, “It’s not a problem if you don’t look up.”
After Jyn is forced to come to terms with all that her father gave up in his personal fight against the empire, she came to adopt his cause as her own: specifically, to retrieve the plans to the Death Star and get them into the hands of the rebellion. Her father died in her arms, and Jyn was not going to let his death be in vain. Jyn also seemed to see an alternate version of herself in the person of Cassian Andor. Here was a man that suffered similar tragedy yet fully dedicated himself to the cause of fighting the Empire.
Cassian Andor changed as well; when we are first introduced to him, he seems to be a man who does not hesitate to follow amoral orders. He seems to know that no level of evil he falls to will ever approach that of the Empire and their leaders. As he gets to know Jyn, he comes to realize that there are different ways to see things; he spares her father, despite orders to kill him.
Cassian wasn’t the only one who sold his soul to the rebellion. When the rebel leadership decide that the Empire’s very possession of the Death Star is cause to consider disbanding the rebellion, Cassian is among a group that offer to join Jyn on the suicidal mission to retrieve the plans revealing the flaw and get them into the hands of the rebellion. To a man, the members of Rogue One have all done things in the name of the Rebellion that eat at their consciences, things they would never have considered under normal circumstances. Yet, if the rebellion fell . . . they would be bearing the guilt of those actions for nothing.
Should Christians rebel?
Edmund Burke is credited with the quote, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.” Given that sentiment, is it righteous for a Christian to rebel against an evil government?
Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience. And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s public servants, continually attending to these tasks. Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor. (Romans 13:1-7)
The Christians to whom Paul was speaking arguably had it far worse than any but the most abused in the rebellion. If Scripture tells Roman believers—who are getting fed to wild beasts for sport and being covered in pitch and burned at the stake for light—to not resist authority, how then can we justify rebellion? Many even argue whether or not the American Revolution was sinful. But the question is not one that is cut and dry. In this sermon from September 2016, Dr. Jeff Elliott preached on Psalms 34 in a sermon titled, “Taste and See that the Lord is Good!” When questioned about apparent moral relativism of God answering David’s prayer by giving him the idea to feign madness, he responds,
In the battle against the enemies of God, deceit is part of the warfare. There is a command to preserve life (the flip side of “no murder”). It is strategy. It must not be self-serving or capricious. We must earnestly seek the Lord in those cases and do it with humility and trembling. If I had a woman with her children in my office, hiding from a drunk or high abusive husband, I would have a clear conscience before God to lie to the man about his family’s whereabouts.
The question comes to how we strive to imitate Christ. Would Christ have provided hiding for Jews in Nazi Germany or assisted slaves on the Underground railroad? Does Christ’s nature as our Savior preclude any element of rebellion? One thing is certain: there was no rebellion in His acceptance of His death on the cross. The life and ministry of Christ does not exist in a vacuum, though.
“Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matthew [5:17])
In considering how we should live and die, we need to consider Scripture as a whole; Christ didn’t rewrite the Law, he embodied it. When we seek to be like Christ, then, we must abide by all the lessons of God. While, “we must earnestly seek the Lord . . . with humility and trembling,” it is not the calling of the Christian to rebel. Rebellion should never be the rule, and even when considered the exception, it should be done so with tremendous caution and humility and a constant desire to seek God’s will.
As Christians, we should be, in times of upheaval, pillars of peace and stability because we know we are grounded in a hope that cannot be shaken.
The Force as a Religion
In the fiction of Rogue One you might say that “god” is the Force. The Force is usually shown as a tool for good and evil alike, but in Rogue One we are introduced to characters who revere the Force and what it stands for. Chirrut Îmwe approaches the Force from a buddist-like perspective of neutrality, and was displaced by the Empire from his position as a caretaker of the temple of Jetta. Several times, Chirrut repeats his mantra of, “I am with the Force and the Force is with me.” While Chirrut was not a Jedi, his nearly supernatural luck does make you question if he is somehow channeling the Force to his ends.
And the Force is with Me
While not part of the story of the Skywalker dynasty storyline, Rogue One is every bit a great movie, for Star Wars lovers and neophytes alike. With more Easter eggs and genre references than you can wing a lightsaber at, it really has something for everyone. It also serves as a great stepping off point for some very meaningful discussions. Can doing evil for a good cause be justified? At what point do you step forward and say, this cannot stand? Can a Christian rebel against tyranny without being in sin himself?
Discuss these, and any other questions in the comments section or on the Are You Just Watching facebook page.
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