Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
We open in medias res aboard the Profundity in hyperspace. General Raddus, Bail Organa, and Mon Mothma are addressing a group of soldiers and pilots. They inform them that they are underway to Scarif in order to secure the plans to the Empire’s new ultimate weapon.
As this is a short film, the initial setup scene is played very short. Perhaps two minutes tops. Remembering that we as the audience already know the stakes from previous films, are likely already invested.
The Rebel Alliance exists in hyperspace right on top of the Imperial planet and it’s attendant orbital defense systems. Ships deploy, TIE fighters engage, lasers fly, and the pandemonium of warfare ensues. You’ve seen this take place in the saga before: The Phantom Menace, A New Hope, Revenge of the Sith, and Return of the Jedi. The rhyme is in place, the steps of the dance well memorized.
From that point forward, for the next 13-17 minutes the film plays more or less exactly as the third and final act of Rogue One does. Governor Tarkin can make a cameo, Darth Vader’s horrific assault on the Profundity can (and should) still take place, and they can even include the final stinger shot of Princess Leia of Alderaan receiving the plans, and the hope for the rebellion that they represent.
Cut to credits, John Williams plays.
Still unconvinced? We can understand. It’s one thing to be told how something might work, it’s another thing entirely to be shown. So let’s watch this animated Star Wars fan-film that does almost exactly what we’ve described here. See if you can’t superimpose what you’re watching over the premise of Rogue One:
The short comes to us courtesy of one man animator extraordinaire Otaking77077 with a stellar sound design assist from user Pascal Ramseier. While it is, of course, animated and highly stylized, it provides a compelling proof-of-concept for how Rogue One might have played as a short film. The version included here even takes SFX from Rogue One itself.