After much anticipation, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” flew into theaters over the weekend. The Gareth Edwards-directed film has a terrifically diverse cast (about time for a blockbuster) and an intriguing concept (expanding the opening crawl mention of rebels’ theft of the plans for the Death Star from ‘A New Hope’ into its own film), but the production of the movie wasn’t so smooth and resulted in at least six weeks of reshoots. While many fanboys rationalized them by saying that reshoots are a regular part of production, the fact remains these weren’t normal pickups. Noted writer/director and script fixer Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton,” “The Bourne Legacy”) was brought on to supervise and even direct portions of the reshoot, as was veteran stunt coordinator and second unit director Simon Crane (“Edge Of Tomorrow,” “World War Z,” “Titanic“). In an even far greater role, Gilroy was brought into the editing room to supervise the cutting of all the new scenes that were shot.
In fact, so substantial was the reworking of the film that Gilroy earned the second writing credit even though four writers worked on the film beforehand: Gary Whitta, Chris Weitz, and two uncredited passes by Christopher McQuarrie and Scott Z. Burns. By tough WGA rules (a writer that far down the line doesn’t get credit), the fact that Gilroy earned second credit is a big deal. Moreover, Gilroy’s brother John Gilroy was brought on to re-edit the film, and his work on ‘Rogue One’ was so extensive, he got the cutting credit.
Now, reshoots don’t immediately equal a bad film, and ‘Rogue One’ is a pretty solid movie that borders on greatness, but the fact remains that the movie was really retooled. The trades reported as much early on when it was said Disney was worried about the film and its tonal issues. For certain parts of the picture, they started over, meaning significant elements of the movie were just not working. As Riz Ahmed recently explained in an interview, some of the film was totally reworked. “There were a ton of reshoots,” the actor admitted. “But if people want to read anything into that, I’d encourage them to read into it the guts it takes to unpick stitching rather than just try to embroider over it, to make it right. I admire [Lucasfilm President] Kathleen [Kennedy] and Gareth and the whole team for having the guts to go, ‘Let’s reopen this. Let’s do some of this again.’ I think it’s because they really care — and hopefully that’s something that shows when people see the film.”
Deeper evidence? Look at the various trailers of the film. Yes, many films have material in their marketing that isn’t in the finished film, but the scenes in the ‘Rogue One’ promos that didn’t make it to cinemas demonstrate excised elements that seemingly reshaped the entire narrative.
We’ve decided to take a closer look, and it goes without saying *spoilers, spoilers, spoilers* — do not read this until you’ve seen ‘Rogue One.’ How about you bookmark it and then come back afterwards? In the meantime, here’s everything that was reworked in the ‘Star Wars’ film based on the trailers, clips and extras. There’s an interesting story to tell here and we hope one day it comes out in full. In the meantime, here’s what we can piece together. Remember, it was reported early on that as much as 40% of the movie was going to be reshot, Disney execs were unhappy with an early cut of the movie, and it was even said that the ending had to be fixed.
The entire MacGuffin, central narrative changed?
Let’s start with the most substantial reworks of the film first. Yes, there are lots of scenes in the first trailer that are not in the film, including the now-famous line of dialogue spoken by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), “This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.” But if you take a closer look, you’ll see a very different narrative than what’s in the film. Admittedly, some of these posits are speculative based on fragmented pieces of the story.
Here’s how it goes down in the movie: Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) goes to the trading post The Rings of Kefrene (the city that’s mashed between two asteroids) and he meets Tivik (played by Daniel Mays), his intelligence/stool pigeon there, who puts the story in motion: He tells Cassian that an Imperial pilot has defected and there are rumors of a new weapon that’s being built. Cassian relays this info to the Rebel Alliance and the goal early on is to find this defector and learn all they can. Unfortunately, he’s fallen into the hands of Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), a radical whose methods were so extreme he was excommunicated from the Rebel Alliance. This is where Jyn comes in. They know she was a Gerrera acolyte in her youth and they’re hoping she can make an entry to his insurgency group and share the intel from the Imperial pilot. The plot’s first obstacle/mission: locate this pilot through Gerrara.
In the trailers: There’s a completely different narrative here. Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) says to a captured Jyn, “We’ve intercepted a coded Imperial transmission. It indicates that a major weapons test is imminent. We need to know how to destroy it.”
“We’ve a mission for you,” she says in another clip, “our rebellion is all we have to push back the Empire.” But in the finished picture, the Rebel Alliance never intercepts a transmission and they don’t know a weapons test is imminent. What they do have is unsubstantiated intelligence about a super-weapon being built. This would mean, in this version of the film, the entire subplot to find Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) and find out what he knows is obsolete and/or doesn’t exist.
In theory, in this alternate version, the Rebel Alliance know about the weapon and they just need to know to destroy it. Presumably, the main mission from there is to track down Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) and find out how to destroy it. It’s important to note not one line of dialogue in the trailers between Cassian, Mon Montha and Jyn is in the movie save “what is this?” spoken by a defensive Jyn trying to understand why she’s being cross-examined and what her father has to do with any of it. Meanwhile, in the “Trust The Force” trailer/extended TV Spot (below) Jyn explains to Saw Gerrera, “the Empire is building a weapon, capable of destroying an entire planet. They call it the Death Star.” This scene isn’t in the movie and it’s a good tip-off for further changes in the film. This is Jyn, obviously in Saw Gerrera’s headquarters, seemingly trying to convince him to help the alliance against the Empire. But at this point in the movie, she hasn’t heard the term “The Death Star” and she never beseeches Gerrera for help. She first hears “The Death Star” from the hologram of her father which further suggests, in the original film, they go to Gerrera for help, not because he has information they need.
To recap: Trailers suggest the Rebellion already has all of the intelligence; now they need to know how to destroy the Death Star. And for that they go to Jyn as a way to get to her father. Jyn and co. go to Gerrera to convince him to help.
In the final film: It’s a circuitous route. They have pieces of intel, they attempt to find a defected Imperial pilot who can confirm the rumors floating about this super-weapon. Then they find Erso’s hologram message and then go to find him.
The entire Saw Gerrera sequence/subplot.
There’s definitely something up with Saw Gerrera’s scenes in the final film. For one, he has a gray fuzzy head of hair and the early trailers depicted him with a shaved head. And yes, while we do see him in the movie with no hair, that’s meant to be 15 years ago.
Think of it like this: Saw with Jyn as a young girl? Shaved head. Saw with an adult Jyn? Full shock of gray hair seemingly to connote the passing of time — it’s 15 years later, after all. But in footage from “Star Wars Celebration,” there are clearly shots of an adult Jyn with a bald Saw. Likewise, in the final film we never see Saw without hair in the headquarters of his extremist faction. But in that first trailer, we see him in his lair, no hair, talking to Jyn, so something has been definitely reworked there, which perhaps explains why this sequence is so clunky with dangling narrative threads. For example, an alien “interrogates” Bodhi to confirm his story, but Saw and co. still jail him despite having learned the truth, but this doesn’t really make a lot of sense even from a wary Gerrera.
This hair issue is resolved by the second trailer, so it seems it was taken care of before the reshoots. But if we’re to take a very close look and possibly speculate, there appears to be a very different Saw. In the early footage, he seems kinder and is even giving subtle smiles to Jyn. In the final movie, Saw is utterly paranoid and mistrustful even of his beloved Jyn. He also sports a kind of oxygen mask that looks like it’s straight out of “Blue Velvet.” At any rate, Saw’s role seems very truncated and it appears to me that lots of it was left on the cutting-room floor. I have no evidence of the fact, but I’m pretty convinced the hologram of Galen talking to Jyn was something conjured up in the reshoots. Also missing: the Saw line from the first teaser, “What will you do if they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight, what will you become?”