I saw Rogue One less than 24 hours ago, shortly after knowing that Carrie Fisher was recovering from a heart attack. This update was going to be about the movie itself and the positive impact it had on me, considering the fact that I particularly disliked Episode 7: The Force Awakens. Now, I have come to the keyboard, but I cannot just write what I thought I would. Now my feelings about this update, about the movie, the franchise, my childhood, my own ideas…the just do not feel appropriate anymore. Many have been claiming how 2016 has been the year of the plague. It begun with another big favourite of mine – Alan Rickman – then I mourned a genius of British fantasy at his memorial – Terry Pratchett – to only find out not long after that, that the Goblin King was also dead – Bowie. I thought that was pretty bad, but now it just becomes clear the impact people have in your life. Even these people, who I never met, not in a million years I could have. I only knew them through their pictures, their words, what they conveyed to me through the media. I guess it was not until literally a couple of minutes ago I realised how much Carrie Fisher meant to me, personally. Not for her being her, but for the world she helped me discover.
If you have seen my post on our Facebook page, then you would have read this already, however I will repeat it just in case you didn’t:
“Today I’ve lost not only a piece of my childhood, but a heroine. A woman’s who hair I tried and replicate one too many times, whose attitude I adored and who I paraphrase on a daily basis. But this is a heartfelt loss for all geeks, all cinema fans, all Star Wars buffs, and all who knew this woman.
Carrie Fisher, may the force sincerely be with you. I know it will. For it was always strong in this one…”
Those of you who follow us know, Star Wars is certainly something we like. Princess Leia was like my first aspiration at being cool: I wanted to rock a blaster pistol, and do what I thought was right, regardless of senates, peoples, places. The Empire would have been real, I’d be buried already. At some point the Star Wars movies came to an end, but I didn’t stop there, I went on an played the RPGs, and I have now for over 12 years. I wanted to be all the other Leia’s that didn’t have a say: the Twilecks for which I fought for freedom, the Gungan that twisted the laws of the force and who brought respect to her kin despite of JarJar, the Jawa that managed to become a key member of her party with speaking hardly any words other than UTINI and scrambling dice together…And all the many more that are yet to come. Funnily enough, this is one of the reasons why I liked Rogue One so much: because it felt like I was there, like I was playing, like it was actually, and for real Star Wars, and this mission mattered, this I had to do, this had to succeed. I guess…It is kind of funny how it has all come around a full circle…(And if you have seen the movie, I hope you realise I mean that in more than one way…But no spoilers…).
I came out of the cinema saying “This is the best Star Wars movie since The Return of the Jedi came out”. It seemed fair. Now I am going to take my statement one step further and say that, chronologically speaking, there cannot be Star Wars beyond episode 6 – for me, that is. There can’t be. How are we going to remove Leia from the unnecessary mess she is thrown in throughout the Force Awakens…Is she going to disappear? Is this a plot whole? Are we going to resort to CGI? I mean, we can…But if that is the case, then you might as well stop filming and just make of the franchise what you should: and animated enterprise, which in many ways has been more successful as a legacy than the live action productions spawned ever since the original trilogy came out… But coming back to Rogue One and Leia, let me see if I can remotely recover what should have been the track of this update. Perhaps it all comes down to a word: Hope.
That is the image we all remember isn’t it? The Hologram coming from R2D2 in front of the magnificent Alec Guinness, with the force be him too: “You’re my only hope”. Now, bear with me. What makes episodes 4 to 6 cool and matter is, certainly, the novelty of the technology and what was done on the screen, but more importantly, the story. That is why Star Wars mattered. Coincidentally, it happened to have some likable characters, but these were characters to bond with because their stories had a meaning, they were exciting, they were trying to tell us something. And this is what we lose with all the new movies – until Rogue One. Episodes 1 to 3 are not bout the story, they are about Vader! Which is the only reason why you can watch them without having seen the original trilogy and still get what this is about, because deep down all you are doing is following Anakin’s trail, which is predictable if you have seen the originals because well, you know: PLOT POINT! And predictable if you havent because the script is just terrible and every single narrative trope that can be thrown in to give you hints just plagues the entire story. Repeat for Force Awakens…
In any case, Rogue One brings back that element into the franchise, which is, in my eyes, a sign of hope. A much more coherent script, a more solid acting, grittier aesthetic aspect…it felt familiar, without necessarily being predictable. It was funny when it had to be funny, dead serious when duty called, explosions when explosions ought to be, and epic fight scenes because this is to be expected. It was sad, but beautiful, and yet, charming…It made me smile. Guaranteed, my smile is now more like a forced gesture as the news are received and digested…The power a character has…I mean, a few months down from now, perhaps years, the memory will remain that Leia is no more, not that Carrie Fisher unfortunately left too early. But I would like to think, next time it comes around making a new character, that new me will have a little bit of her, even if just an ounce, a grain. That character yet to be will remember the loss of Alderaan, the dust roaming endlessly in space, as particles of something that once was, but still is, and still means something.
And that is what I wish Miss Fisher to be: a particle of something gone, but still alive. One with the Force. Alive in the distant memories of a galaxy far, far away, every time someone goes against the rules, every time a fight is fought for a cause worth dying for, and for sure every time I hold a blaster pistol. Because stealing the plans for a death star, of any kind, will always be worth the risk.