Much has been talked about the feeling that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first of the new standalone films in the franchise from Lucasfilm, is a war movie first and a Star Wars movie second. That came from the very beginning of the film's development, when director Gareth Edwards sat down with his writers and Lucasfilm to figure out the look and feel of the film.
“When we started this whole process, it was all about ‘how are we going to make this different from the saga?’ We started from the ground and experimenting – we took photographs from Vietnam and WWII and we used Photoshop and put in Rebel helmets and blasters in on the soldiers, and it looked really interesting," Edwards said at the press junket for Rogue One. "Everyone that came into the building looked at these photos and said, ‘Oh my God, wow, I need to see that film.’ The studio loved it, everybody loved it, and they said, ‘just go make that.’”
Starting literally from war photos set the tone early for the crew, and it's a feeling they've sworn up and down you'll get throughout the film. In the footage screened for press, the former war, Vietnam, known for its guerilla tactics and ambush-style skirmishes, was reflected immediately in a battle on Jedha, the "holy land" of those who believe in the Force. Likewise, we've seen beach-storming scenes in promotional materials that look like they could fit right alongside video games or films that reflect the European theater of World War II. They even wound up hiring composer Michael Giacchino to score the film, who has a background in scoring WWII video games.
Edwards went on to say that the tone carried over into the actual shooting of the film.
"It was also like being in a war," the director said. "The film crew became characters in a way. We were all literally in the trenches together trying to achieve an impossible task."
That was something actor Alan Tudyk echoed later, telling Comicbook.com, "A lot of [Edwards' hands-on camera work] was in the action, that's when he'd really take the reins, in the action sequences and things. He says, 'In the trenches' literally, he means literally, he was in the trenches, in our many trenches we were in over the course of the movie."
Fans will get to see the new tone of Rogue One in comparison to other Star Wars films later this week.
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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits US theaters December 16, 2016. Directed by Gareth Edwards, it's the first of the new standalone features from Lucasfilm and Disney, which take place outside the core "Skywalker Saga" of films noted by an Episode number. Rogue One tells the story of the small band of rebels that were tasked with stealing the plans to the first Death Star. The story spins directly off the opening crawl from the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. In that crawl, it read: "Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet."