Mad Scientess Jane Expat (nanila) wrote,
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Star Wars: Rogue One.

This is not a review.

[This post contains spoilers for Star Wars: Rogue One. Do not click the cut if you haven’t watched the film and are sensitive to spoilers.]

I saw Rogue One last week and I'm still dealing with the emotional fallout.

Actually, before I get into this: If you think the film was terrible, want to pick apart plot points, lecture me about how the story isn't deep or meaningful, argue that a having female lead is a pointless gesture in the direction of political correctness, tell me I’m not a “real” fan, or claim that casting a significant proportion of characters of colour is tokenism or that representation doesn’t matter, I have a request. Please, hold your tongue. This post is not for you.

Because the film drew me in completely. Not just because it was, in many ways, the Star Wars film I always wanted. The Force Awakens was good, centering the female lead, providing a nuanced character of colour, connecting beautifully with the characters in the original films (Episodes IV-VI). Rogue One does those things too but I got involved with this story on the level I used to when I was a kid and I'd lose myself completely in a narrative, to the point where I'd have visceral nightmares about it (as I am with Rogue One). This story felt true.

I don't talk much about it but as a child I spent long periods (months to years) separated from my parents, for reasons I don't actually fully understand even now (and don't want to ask about because what would be the point: the past is past and I have no wish to revisit pain). I was with my relatives who loved me in their reserved way (see: Saw Guerrera). I left home at 16 (willingly, which is where I diverge from Jyn).

The way she reacted to her experiences struck a deep chord in me. The (misguided?) idolatry of the absent father. The resentment and anger directed at the world at large, for wrongs and suffering that seemed destined never to abate. The determination to survive because in spite of this, life is worth clinging to. My story is not identical to hers - hers is amplified to maximum agony - but I found her uncannily relatable. I loved her. And I loved Cassian and K-2SO and Baze and Chirrut and Bodhi. And I was devastated that everyone died. It was the right ending for the story but to watch them, and particularly Jyn, end that way...well, I'm crying even typing about it.

On a less soul-searing note, it was also a great pleasure to watch Diego Luna and Donnie Yen, both men with identifiable and heavy accents, in speaking roles with lots of dialogue, and where the accent is just there. It’s not cause for mockery or even remarked upon at all. There’s no reason for everyone to speak with an American or British accent in a space opera that spans the galaxy. Or at least, none that don’t come across as colonialist. One day, I hope to watch - with my dad - a Hollywood film that features a Filipino actor speaking with a strong accent. (I know, I know, moon on a stick. The closest I’ve ever heard is Tia Carrere’s voicing of Nani in “Lilo & Stitch”.)

Also, Donnie Yen gets to be funny, in a Hollywood film that both showcases his martial arts ability and isn’t a screwball comedy. I grew up watching a lot of kung fu - mostly from behind the sofa because technically I wasn’t allowed - because my dad loved it. If you haven’t watched Once Upon a Time in China II or Iron Monkey, I challenge you to do so and not end up both delighted by the humour and gobsmacked by the physicality of Donnie Yen (and Jet Li).

So anyway, watching Rogue One was a significant and moving experience for me. I don’t expect everyone will agree with me, but I hope this conveys, to an extent, why the casting choices and script were so important to persons with marginalised identities.

And now I need to go and sob into a cup of herb tea again because, well, I loved them, and they all died.

This entry was originally posted at The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
Tags: family, feelings so many feelings, film, film: star wars, film: star wars: rogue one, navel-gazing, pain, racism sucks

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