Star Wars: Andor and Colonialism

Kassa (Antonio Viña) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Kassa (Antonio Viña) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

The second trailer for Andor has debuted, and it looks incredible. The music is now a menacing, almost playful track, and Luthen this given more time to shine. But what stands out most is the anti-colonialist sentiment that the show is going for, shown off prominently in this trailer.

Tony Gilroy, the showrunner for Andor, has already explained that Andor will look at colonialism, saying that the Empire is expanding rapidly and is taking apart a planet “in a colonial kind of way”. In this way, Andor will be the perfect show to show what it’s like to be colonized, and how a resistance emerges to fight back. The latest trailer gives several clues to how this might be done.

Starting with the early shots, the trailer opens on several people in a forest, happily going about their business. A few hints are given about the technology these people have, which is to say not a lot. The houses in the background look basic, and all the equipment that’s being used is extremely dirty. Throughout the trailer this is important, as the Empire’s equipment and environments are unnaturally sterile, clashing with the natural dirt of the village. The camera pans up to the arrival of an Imperial Star Destroyer, its loud engines and vibrations disturbing the peace below. This also heralds the arrival of the Empire, coming to disturb the peace of this planet to force them off their land. This will likely be done under the guise of modernising these basic people, and to take their resources. This is hinted at in the next shot, with Andor as a child staring at a ravaged landscape, with its contents mined and taken away.

Shots of a clone army marching can be seen as Luthen encourages Andor to fight, and it could mean one of two things. One, is that the Empire arrived when they were still using a clone army, but the more interesting possibility is that the Republic invaded and occupied Andor’s childhood home. This would add a new dimension to the traditional good side of Star Wars, and fit very well with the critique of democracy Lucas was making in the original trilogy. It is a flawed system, and it reminds that democracies can be just as imperialist as autocracies.

Finally, is the building of infrastructure and crushing of protest. Two massive bits of building work are laid down, presumably on bits of land that the Empire forcibly moved its owners off of. Later in the trailer, the Imperial Army and some as of yet unknown security force can be seen defending against rioters, who have had enough of Imperial occupation. Protests were common throughout the colonised worlds, and unfortunately they were put down just as brutally.

Overall, these colonialist elements are reminiscent of what George Lucas was inspired by and wanted to explore in the original trilogy. This helps Andor to feel as though it could have come from Lucas himself, with a strong degree of attention placed on the politics of Star Wars and the underlying political themes applicable or taken from our world. These are practices that the West did engage with at some point in their history after all. The creators of Andor look as though they understand that Star Wars is at its best when it’s informed by real world events, and criticising our political and historical landscape.