Everyone’s heard the story by now. Prior to the release of the first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story went through a major overhaul of reshoots and post-production work to effectively redo the entire movie. This is why quite a few of the shots used in marketing were missing from the film. At the time, fans were concerned for the quality of the film but I think it’s becoming safe to say that Rogue One was saved in post-production.
In an interview with Fandango, director Gareth Edwards revealed some stunning information related to Darth Vader’s huge scene at the end of the movie… it almost didn’t even exist. Edwards said that the original ending to the movie was that “he (Vader) arrives and obliterates the Calamari ship, and then the blockade runner (Tantive IV) gets out just in time and he pursues the blockade runner.” Having Darth Vader board the ship and slaughter his way through rebels wasn’t even conceived until editor Jabez Olssen pitched the scene while they were cutting the final version of the film.
Think about that for a minute. Rogue One’s iconic scene, a scene that will live on as one of the greatest scenes in the history of Star Wars, didn’t even exist until three or four months before the film hit theaters. This has emerged as a significant trend as it relates to Rogue One. There have been a number of stories over the last few months where we heard about the original version of the movie and how it was changed in post-production. From what we currently know, effectively the entire ending to the movie is different than what was originally written.
I think the coolest part about the scene’s creation is that Edwards basically just sent his stunt people off to come up with as many different ideas for the scene as possible. Edwards said that they used about seventy percent of the ideas that were considered because the other thirty percent felt “too extreme” or were things that nobody had ever seen Vader do before. I can definitely admire the sentiment of sticking to what Vader was known to do but I’m salivating at the idea of seeing him do some new, crazy powerful stuff. I was like a kid in a candy store when that scene started and any more might have sent me through the roof.
I can’t help but shake the feeling that Rogue One was going to be a disaster before they got their hands back on it in post-production. This isn’t a criticism of Rogue One either. Part of creating something great is being able to look at your original idea, identify things that you don’t really like or things that don’t really work right and improve them. This might be the reason why the first 45 minutes or so of the movie is so jumpy but the fact that Rogue One received as big of an overhaul as it did and still ended up being really damn good makes for an unreal story.
I would love to be able to sit down and watch the original cut of this movie and see how it compares to the final version. I’m not saying that Rogue One is the greatest movie I’ve ever seen but it was really good. Hell, arguably the biggest scene in the history of the franchise wasn’t even in the movie until the final months leading up to release, which is bananaland.
This whole concept of significant post-production changes doesn’t apply to just movies either, it applies to everything. If you’ve created something, you don’t have to release it just because you’re done. If you think it can be improved, you should take the time to make the proper adjustments or add things in if it improves the overall product.
God bless Gareth Edwards and everyone involved in the post-production changes made to Rogue One.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story releases digitally on March 24th and Blu-ray on April 4th.