Trust the Force: The Role of the Force in Rogue One

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“The force is with me. I am one with the force.”

Spoilers for “Rogue One” ahead.

When it was announced that “Rogue One” would have intense war scenes and tell an extraordinary story about a group of ordinary people, I balked. Maybe not that badly, but my excitement for the movie dropped a level or two.

My favorite stories often surround magical, mythical and supernatural themes. The books I read fall into the fantasy genre. So also do my roots in Star Wars.

Sure, I love the epic space battles, hyperspace jumps, and a cool blaster by my side. However, that isn’t why I love Star Wars. As a youngster I was drawn to the lightsabers and Obi-Wan’s requests to trust in the unseen. Darth Vader held me in the palm of his hand when his first force-choke victim gasped for air aboard the Death Star in the conference room.

It isn’t just a hokey religion for me. I longed for the force, to be like Luke Skywalker. I was six years old. I fell in love with Yoda, on Dagobah, as he taught Luke to reach out and feel the life force around him. It wasn’t Luke alone. As mentioned I was enamored by Vader. I lusted for that power, the power to wield a lightsaber or use mind tricks or throw a dash of force lightning at my enemies.

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Forgive me if I didn’t jump up and down for joy when “Rogue One” was announced. For me, this was an appetizer. The main course comes next year with the release of Episode 8. I fell in love with Rey and Kylo Ren last Christmas. The new trilogy is firmly settled into my emotions. “Rogue One” wasn’t the movie I was waiting for.

However, the appetizer was a pleasant surprise for me. Ultimately it exceeded my expectations, and in fact, this appetizer is more about the force than I originally thought. There are subtle moments that hint to the fact that it may truly be the guiding force behind the film, pun intended.

I’ve been trying to plot how I spin this piece. The force guides all, or it works in mysterious ways? The dominoes begin to fall when prompted by the force?

No, I have it. ‘Trust the force.’

Three simple words, spoken by a mother, lit a candle in the heart of a young girl. Three words that, when joined with the gift of a Kyber crystal, paved a subtle path for rebellion. The crystals hold a connective power in the force. Whether alive or merely conduits, no one knows. They do provide the connective link between the Jedi and their lightsaber. The Jedi chooses the crystal, while the crystal in turn chooses the Jedi. In the case of Jyn, it’s likely the crystal was more a symbol. In James Luceno’s novel, “Catalyst”, Lyra Erso held a deep respect for the power of the crystal and a reverence for the Jedi.

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I know I said the Kyber crystal is a conduit, however that’s not entirely true. I believe they have innate power within. Look no further than that of the Death Star’s weapon itself. There is untapped, immeasurable power within the crystals. However, they are also conduits for the force. When combined with the power of the dark side, or the light, they become weapons of awesome power. Ultimately they can be used as weapons of mass destruction – see Alderaan, Jedha, or Scarif for reference.

Sure, “Rogue One” is a war story about sacrifice and belief in a worthy cause. However, it is a cause fueled by a binding life-force on a journey bound for balance.

Anakin Skywalker turned to the dark side, decimating the Jedi and ripping apart the very fabric of hope. The force fell into imbalance. Not to be outdone, a glimmer of hope remained in the sparkling eyes of his two children. What was needed? Time and patience. In the meantime the force began a ripple effect that would send the ultimate plan in motion. The catalyst, a family of scientists – the Erso’s.

While they may have been more concerned with research to help less fortunate worlds in the galaxy the Empire and the force, had other plans. Through the Erso’s, the Empire planned to create a super weapon, while the force may have been more concerned with rebirth.

If you haven’t read “Catalyst”, I recommend it.

When reading “Catalyst” and following the story through “Rogue One” and into “A New Hope”, the events fell into succession. Recently on Idiot’s Array, my co-hosts and I spoke of this succession. Each individual involved in the creation of the Death Star served a purpose, and ultimately met with an end. The Erso’s and other scientists, Director Krennic, even Governor Tarkin, all saw their demise in connection with the Death Star, or more specifically the power of the Kyber crystals and the force.

Now, to “Rogue One”. I loved two parts of the movie more than any other. Interestingly enough, they both relate to the force and play a significant role in bringing separate rebel cells together to form a unified rebel alliance.

The first was Chirrut’s introduction. He recognized, in the midst of a crowded street, the presence of a Kyber crystal. More importantly, he sensed the stirring of hope in the heart of a young woman. The force, already in motion, began to put its team of odds-breakers together. Through the force the rebellion formed. Chirrut embraced his destiny and helped guide the destiny of a band of misfits. Perhaps, as my co-host Ryder Waldron put it, Chirrut was the moral compass for the band of rebels.

Chirrut never faltered or doubted. His unwavering belief that he was one with the force and the force in him, shaped his destiny. On the surface many would only guess he happened to be in the right place at the right time. It’s easy to write it off as circumstance or chance, but it isn’t.

Then, en route to Eadu, he sensed the intentions of Cassian and set yet another sequence in motion, by way of the force. In revealing the intentions of Cassian to Jyn, he brought greater purpose to her mission. It also brought Cassian and Jyn together in an eventually unbreakable bond. When Jyn went back to the ship after her father died, she had her hand in a fist, and moved it, possibly to grab her blaster or retaliate somehow against Cassian, and there’s a very fast shot of Chirrut, grabbing her hand for just a split second, and then letting go. Remember what I said? Moral compass.

Finally on Scarif, in a final moment of selflessness, he sacrificed his life in order to flip the master switch. His journey ended while putting his trust in the force. He gave little heed to the death surrounding him, or about to envelop him. Instead, he walked with confidence, while repeating his chant “The force is with me. I am one with the force.” He died with a smile on his face. That very real moment captured the symbolic true nature of the force and of hope. The result was an open channel for Jyn to send the plans of the death star to the rebellion in one last attempt to save that hope.

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The dark side of the force did attempt to intervene, as Darth Vader unleashed his fury on the rebel vessel to retrieve the stolen plans. This culminated in a moment of pure elation for me. But, alas for Vader, the force and with it hope, shimmered in the eyes of this young woman, the same eyes that carried that same glimmer as a child with a Kyber crystal necklace.

That hope passed from Jyn. Succession after succession, the force guided its rebirth to its final hope – two children, Luke and Leia.

“Rogue One,” just a war movie? No, because while it is a war story, it carries the weight of the force on its wings and a galaxy of hope on its back. It teaches one to trust the force.

Written by Alan Zaugg co-host of Idiot’s Array: A Star Wars Podcast

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