Rogue One of Many

My son and I went to the Kingdom of Intellectual Property near us and watched Rogue One. It’s visually pretty cool- I’m sure everyone who worked on it loved getting the Imperial Destroyers and AT-ATs to look just right (it takes place immediately before the original 1977 Star Wars) and there are lots of well-composed shots that 1977-era Lucas would’ve appreciated. The story’s kind of a mess for the first half, and then it settles down to a single long Rambo-meets-Platoon-meets-Battle of Midway sequence that is nihilistic and bloodthirsty but well done, if depressing for my kid. The strong message throughout is that the Rebel Alliance you loved, the repository of your childish hope and aspiration, was mostly full of stone-cold killers- and needed to be in order to threaten the Empire.

There’s been some silliness about the Rogue One writers saying explicitly what was pretty obvious from The Force Awakens, that they see the Empire as a Nazi-like white (not just human) supremacist organization, opposed by a feminist, multicultural (not just multispecies) Rebel Alliance. Some people online claimed the movie had been through rewrites to make it more anti-Trump, over the summer. This doesn’t seem very likely, and the racial element is actually downplayed slightly relative to last year’s movie, if still unmistakeable. It’s actually kind of funny that Diego Luna appears here as the inspiringly non-white lead, given that his first big film, Y Tu Mama Tambien, was all about Mexico’s racial politics, with him as a privileged and feckless light-skinned playboy.

More appealing to my own sense of cynicism and paranoia is that the movie was intended to seduce its audience into supporting another military adventure in the Middle East, with early scenes taking place in a sand-blown Jedi Holy Land and a group of violent turbaned religious zealots positioned as potential allies, if scary ones, in unseating a merciless regime, much as the CIA has been arming al-Qaeda in Syria in an attempt to unseat Assad. If I wanted to be extra cynical, I would say that the bloodiness of the second half of the film is about reconciling the audience to endless, grinding, almost-fruitless conflict, with Our Multicolored Boys and Girls going off to die for a Grand Purpose, but one that we’ll never see the end of.

2 thoughts on “Rogue One of Many

  1. It is interesting that you use the word nihilism to describe the film — I didn’t get that sense at all (think about Leia’s last bit of dialogue in the movie.) Yes, the victory comes at great cost but it does come and I think it sets up “Star Wars: A New Hope” very nicely with a good back-story.

    Wars are won at great cost this film seems to be telling us, including folks who lose their moral compass and should know better between right and wrong. But there are also heroes who are willing to sacrifice everything for a worthy cause and perhaps that is worth celebrating.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Diego Luna’s Wikipedia page is certainly not detailed, but he appears to come from the white upper middle classes of Mexico.

    His facial appearance suggests 100% suitability to have held office at the court of Philip II.

    So unless we have suddenly written off Castilians, I’m going to go ahead and call him a white guy.

    I am sure the writers were aiming for the effect you suggest, but considering Luna and his pasty-faced white generals back at the rebel base, I’m going to call Rogue One diverse in the same way a stereotypical American army squad in World War II was: a couple of Anglos, a Swede, a couple of Irishmen, a Jew, an Italian and a Polish guy from Chicago. And in this case, some sort of squidman and a member of the wuxia-jedi.

    Liked by 1 person

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