The events of the upcoming “Star Wars” standalone film take place just before “A New Hope,” and because it’s not focusing on the Skywalker family, “Rogue One” can turn its focus to another “Star Wars” staple: the Force.
(Warning: Mild spoilers for “Rogue One” below.)
In “Revenge of the Sith,” Anakin Skywalker left the Force in disarray. He killed almost every Jedi and destroyed any hope left that the light and dark sides would become balanced.
“Rogue One” director Gareth Edwards likened the consequences to the Force as a period of members losing their religion.
“The Force is basically in ‘Star Wars’ like a religion, and they’re losing their faith in the period that we start the movie,” Edwards told Entertainment Weekly. “We were trying to find a physical location we could go to that would speak to the themes of losing your faith and the choice between letting the Empire win, or evil win, and good prevailing. It got embodied in this place we called Jedha.”
Jedha, which is seemingly revealed in the behind-the-scenes video of “Rogue One,” has a Middle Eastern look and is comparable to real-life religious city centers Jerusalem and Mecca.
“It’s a place where people who believe in the Force would go on a pilgrimage,” Edwards told EW. “It was essentially taken over by the Empire. It’s an occupied territory… for reasons we probably can’t reveal.”
Edwards went on to say that Jedha has a resource desired by both the dark and light sides of the Force. Based on Donnie Yen’s interview with ExtraTV, it’s probably the material that powers lightsabers. Yen revealed that his character, Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior devoted to the ways of the Jedi, is from Jedha.
Use of the Force is not limited to Jedi. In “A New Hope,” Obi-Wan Kenobi described the Force as an “energy field created by all living things… It binds the galaxy together.” In “The Phantom Menace,” Qui-Gon Jinn controversially introduced the concept of midi-chlorians, “microscopic lifeforms inside all living cells” that make a person aware of the Force. The idea of midi-chlorians adds a genetic and physical connection to the Force, which was previously seen as solely spiritual. It also contradicts Lucas’ comparison of the Force to yoga described in “The Making of ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.'”
Dave Filoni, the director of the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” projects, helped to create a more succint idea of training in and having a natural ability to use the Force in an interview with ComicBook.com.
“For a long time I’ve used someone like Bruce Lee as an example,” Filoni said. “He has, if you like, a lot of talent for martial arts – or a very high midi-chlorian count. If I train in martial arts, can I learn martial arts? Yes, I can improve my midi-chlorian count in that discipline.”
So basically, natural talent plus training and discipline make for the best Force user.
It will be interesting to see how non-Skywalkers – aka the ones who require more training and discipline – interact with the Force.