The casting choice, costume and production design make the statement:
Rogue One speaks to our times
(it’s okay to read this, no spoilers here)
Generally (avoiding spoilers) , the plot is simple and almost formulaic —
The visuals and the choices made by the filmmaker however make the statement:
Fighters of an “extremist” faction of the Rebel Alliance who open the attack on the galactic imperial army are garbed in traditional Arabic/ Palestinian clothing, in black, opening fire in a confined area with traditional architectural design that looks like a marketplace in Baghdad…In fact the war zone Planet Jedha was shot in Jordan. “(M)any of the scenes set on this desert moon are known to have been recorded in Jordan. The walled city is densely populated with buildings topped with shimmering golden domes, echoing the architectural language of Jerusalem.” (from architizer.com). …
The Rebel Alliance leaders coordinate flight plans and troop movements from a fortress rising like the architectural design of ancient temples of the Mayan civilization… “within the luscious rainforests of Tikal, Guatemala, home to the epic temples of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in Mesoamerica” (from architizer.com)…
On the other hand, the galactic empire constructed the Death Star, a weapon that can destroy entire planets, in an idyllic tropical island with palm trees and white sand beaches…
…that looks like one of the disputed islets in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) — i’m messing with you, but the filmmakers did use a tropical island paradise setting as construction area of the Death Star by the superpowers, este, er, by the galactic empire.
Still think the filmmakers are not trying to make a statement with this production design?
As observed by many: The oppressive galactic empire echoes “white supremacist organization”.
…but… i will not go that far: Let’s just say the filmmakers cast an all-Caucasian male ensemble for the evil galactic empire led by… the late, iconic Peter Cushing — CGI’ed for the movie.
And what about the heroes?
Captain Cassian is played by a Mexican actor of wiry build, thick accent: Diego Luna — it is equally redeeming that he is not Hollywood-pretty (broken nose, longish thin face)…
The blind warrior monk Chirrut, in Buddhist robes with Jedi-like skills, played by actor Donnie Yen who in real life is a multiple world wushu tournament champion, is of Chinese descent — the character is costumed as Chinese-Tibetan.
The free-lance assassin character of Baze Malbus is played by an actor also of Chinese descent.
The pilot turned spy is of Pakistani descent of British citizenship.
And of course Saw Guerrera, who partially raised Jyn Erso, is African-American.
The Rebel Alliance is led jointly by Mon Mothma, played by an Irish female actor and by the foster father of Princess Leia, played by Jimmy Smits of Puerto Rican and Dutch descent. The central figure is Jyn Erso, orphaned, rebel.
White male actors for the galactic empire on one side —-
and the Rebel Alliance: female Irish actor, a Mexican commander, a “Tibetan monk” spiritual warrior, an African-American underground leader, a gung-ho Chinese assassin, an awkward shy Pakistani pilot, a senator of Puerto Rican and Dutch descent, and an orphaned rebel — and let’s not forget the witty, heroic droid, and the assortment of intelligent life forms patterned after sea creatures and upright walking reptilians.
Without preaching, Rogue One filmmakers’ production design changes and exquisite casting choices speak to our times.
(in my opinion, the most relevant and best of the eight Star Wars films)