*Warning: This article contains spoilers for Rogue One*
Gareth Edwards may be one of the luckiest people on the planet. As a self-confessed Star Wars fan, having the opportunity to direct Rogue One was a dream come true, a chance to immerse himself in the world of X-wings, Death Stars, Darth Vader and the Rebel Alliance.
But as well as fulfilling a personal goal, the director's love of the sci-fi epic has also led to the release of some antique footage that would otherwise be long lost in the cobwebs of time.
During the production of the movie, Edwards and crew attended the Skywalker Ranch, the workplace of George Lucas that houses production facilities and archives. In an interview with Radio Times, Edwards revealed that, while sifting through the treasure trove of Star Wars goodies, he stumbled across an interesting find. He said:
"As we’re walking around, and doing all the cool things and looking at the Millennium Falcon and trying on Han Solo’s jacket and things like that, in the back at the bottom was all these cans of film.
"And we said ‘what are they?’ and they said ‘Oh, it’s Star Wars.’ And you go… ‘has someone gone through all this? And it’s like ‘not really, they’re not fully like digitised at all.’"
Rogue One Used Forgotten Footage From A New Hope
Upon looking at the old film, the 41-year-old realised that much of the footage hadn't been used in A New Hope (1977), instead left consigned to the archives forever. Unlike most #StarWars fans, though, Edwards was in a position to turn this fortunate discovery into something much, much more.
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The deleted scenes were from the Rebel Alliance's attack on the Death Star, including clips of X-wing pilots in the cockpit, as well as unused lines of dialogue. Not missing the opportunity to fuse old and new, special effects studio Industrial Light and Magic managed to add the clips into #RogueOne. Edwards added:
"It’s the sort of thing you think, ‘how many people will notice?’ It’s like, is this a lot of effort for very little reward?
"At the world premiere in LA, there was this massive cheer at a particular point in the film. It was the only time during the premiere where I actually punched the air."
Eagle-eyed fans would've noticed that some of the clips were merged in with the Rebel Alliance's attack on Scarif, at the point when the X-Wing fighters are trying to disarm the forcefield that was preventing #JynErso (Felicity Jones) from transmitting the data for the Death Star plans from the Empire's headquarters.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed
The clips during that scene weren't the only sprinkles of nostalgia that added to the allure of the film. Although the decision faced some controversy, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) were digitally placed into the movie with the use of CGI. The latter provided a moral conundrum, as Cushing passed away in 1994.
On top of old footage and digital doppelgängers, Rogue One was also saturated with references and Easter Eggs to the original trilogy, including the recreation of an establishing shot on Yavin IV when Jyn returns to the Rebel base, and a score from Michael Giacchino that used iconic notes when appropriate.
Rogue One is on course to become one of the most successful Star Wars films, and Edwards's delicate handling of these topics of sentiment is a huge reason behind a strong performance at the box office, something helped by the director producing the film as an auteur and as a fan.
While the film felt fresh and exciting, it also felt grounded in a galaxy we know so well, from breathtaking skylines to X-wing pilots first filmed four decades ago. Best of all, everything we know and love about A New Hope has been reinvigorated by Rogue One, making now the perfect time for another viewing.
Did you spot the footage from A New Hope in Rogue One?
(Source: Radio Times)