A new full trailer for Rogue One was released last week and just like many other fans, I have been able to tally up dozens of viewings. After familiarizing myself with the trailer, I noticed some shots that seemed to closely resemble images of places and events found in the real world. In this article I present to you, the real-world influences of the new Rogue One trailer.
Last month at Star Wars Celebration Europe, and more recently in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Gareth Edwards gave some insight into a new planet called Jedha. Edwards described the planet as "a place where people who believe in the Force would go on a pilgrimage.” The very first shot of the new trailer slowly pans to reveal a bustling city that appears very compact and cramped with earthen color tones that mimic many ancient real-world cities. This is most likely the Planet Jedha.
If Jedha is known in the Star Wars galaxy as a sort of spiritual world of pilgrimage, what better place to draw inspiration from than one of the most spiritual cities on Earth, Jerusalem? The Jedha cityscape in the trailer even features its own version of a gleaming golden Dome of the Rock.
Another shot in the trailer confirms that the city featured in the first shot sits atop a steep mountain cliff. While this location could have been inspired by other real-world examples, one that seems closely related to the mountain cliff in Rogue One is the city of Amadiya in Iraqi Kurdistan. The hilltop city of Amadiya, together with the cluttered old-world architecture of Jerusalem could have been conceptual starting points for the city on Jedha.
Yavin IV: Tikal
This is one of the more widely known production secrets of the Star Wars universe, but it remains worth stating. The rebel base on Yavin IV, which appeared first in A New Hope and is now in Rogue One, features a jungle landscape with stone pyramid structures. The landscape for Yavin IV was inspired by the Mayan archaeological site of Tikal in Guatemala, which was actually shot and featured in A New Hope. In the Rogue One trailer, we get a shot of a U-Wing troop carrier and X-Wings littering the jungle landscape with several pyramids in the background. Notice the same structures in each picture.
War Imagery: WWII, Vietnam, And Modern-Day
From the very first announcement at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, Rogue One was pitched as a war film. The tone of the film was described as being gritty and when first talking about the film, Gareth Edwards made sure to emphasize the "Wars" in Star Wars. Some of the first images ever seen for Rogue One were released in Anaheim along with a short announcement clip, which delivered very ominous undertones.
Quick glimpses of battle footage sprinkled throughout the new trailer continue to reinforce Edward's vision of the film. One of the shots shows rebel troops being dropped off from a U-Wing, mimicking a lot of imagery from the Vietnam war. The troop landing in the Rogue One trailer closely resembles pictures of airborne troops being dropped off into battle such as the one above.
Most of the battle footage seen in the Rogue One trailer takes place on a beach landscape that was actually filmed in the Maldives. Like so many other war films that have been produced with the similar landscapes, it would be hard not to draw visual inspiration from imagery of the Pacific Theater during World War II.
Classic and modern war films set in the Pacific have relied on images from World War II to help re-create shots and emphasize visual themes. A lot of the footage from Rogue One seems to be no exception as many of the tropical landscapes and action seem to match up well with historical photos such as the one above of Marines crossing a river on Guadalcanal.
While many of the shots in the Rogue One trailer seem to have a clear connection to historical imagery, some might also be associated with more current times such as the shot above with Diego Luna to a modern-day image of paratroopers preparing to jump from an aircraft.
After Galaxies Collide
During the first ever interview for Rogue One at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, Gareth Edwards emphasized that in the time period of the story which takes place before the events of A New Hope, the Jedi are supposedly "All but extinct." He further elaborated that in Rogue One, seemingly ordinary characters would have to rely on their own abilities to accomplish a goal without the help of god-like characters.
While the goal of this article was not to show how images from the Rogue One trailer perfectly match the real world, it is worth pointing out that the dark and gritty tones that we witnessed in the newest trailer may be due in part to the use of real-world imagery as a reference point for visual cues that highlight the humanity of the film. No, many of the historical and modern images used in comparison with stills of the trailer are not a perfect mirror match, but the tones, together with heavy war themes inspired from the real world, may deliver a type of film that fans have never experienced from within the Star Wars galaxy.
Rogue One hits theaters on December 16.
What other real-world inspirations did you catch in the Rogue One trailer?