Movies are constantly changing, often right up until the minute they’re released (and in the case of ‘Star Wars’ movies, sometimes long after release). And naturally, some of these changes are bigger than others. For example, it was reported several months ago that ‘Rogue One’ had undergone a number of reshoots late in the production process. While we do not yet know the exact nature of those changes, we do know that they were hardly the only changes made to the film during production. One of the more major changes we’ve learned of was to the film’s ending, which, according to director Gareth Edwards, took a somewhat different form in earlier drafts of the screenplay.
You might have guessed this already, but just in case, consider yourself warned: From this point on, there are MAJOR SPOILERS for ‘Rogue One’.
Edwards was asked if the characters in the film had ended up the way he had intended from the very beginning:
“The very first version, they didn’t. In the screenplay. And it was just assumed by us that we couldn’t do that. “They’re not going to let us do that.” So I was trying to figure out how this ends where that doesn’t happen. And then everyone read that and there was this feeling of like, “They’ve got to die, right?” And everyone was like, “Yeah, can we?”
We thought we weren’t going to be allowed to but Kathy [Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm] and everyone at Disney were like “Yeah, it makes sense / I guess they have to because they’re not in ‘A New Hope’.” And so from that point on we had the license.
I kept waiting for someone to go, “You know what? Could we just film an extra scene where we see Jyn and Cassian, they’re okay and they’re on another planet?” And it never came. No one ever gave us that note, so we got to do it.”Simultaneously one of the most impressive and least surprising elements of ‘Rogue One’ is the bleakness of its ending, as our heroes all meet their deaths in the course of retrieving the Death Star plans from the archive on Scarif. As hard as it is to argue that this was anything other than the logical end point to this particular story, it was nonetheless a brave storytelling choice to turn the third act into a bloodbath reminiscent of ‘The Wild Bunch’. This is especially the case for ‘Star Wars’, a franchise that has always tended to indulge the tradition of the good guys winning in the end (even if, as in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, that victory is as small as living to fight another day).
‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ is currently playing in theaters. The film stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jiang Wen, Alan Tudyk, and Forest Whitaker.