For a film set between two trilogies of the Star Wars saga, Rogue One isn’t shying away from adding some brand new material to the franchise. In addition to Felicity Jones’ Jey Erso, a ton of other new faces and some spankin’ new Stormtrooper armour to harass Rebels in, Rogue One is also punching the hyperspace button for a visit to some new locations.
One such location that has already been glimpsed is Scarif, a tropical planet and home to a few of those pesky Imperial AT-AT Walkers and more. One other, more important location however? The previously unknown planet of Jedha. Briefly glimpsed in a sizzle reel that was shown off at Star Wars Celebration, Jehda is more than just another planet in the vast collective of worlds caught in the iron grip of the Galactic Empire.
It’s a holy land, a world with significant value to both the Jedi and Sith orders. And also home to a religion and a culture, as Rogue One director Gareth Edwards explained to EW:
It’s a place where people who believe in the Force would go on a pilgrimage. It was essentially taken over by the Empire. It’s an occupied territory…for reasons we probably can’t reveal…There’s something very important in Jedha that serves both the Jedi and the Empire. It felt very much like something we could relate to in the real world.
So what makes Jedha so valuable in Rogue One? According to EW’s Anthony Breznican’s theory, the planet could be home to Kyber crystals, an ultra-rare and Force-sensitive material used in the construction of a lightsaber or other bigger weapons of mass destruction that the Sith are fond of. You know, those gigantic battle stations that are sometimes mistaken for moons. By the time of Rogue One, Jedha is firmly under the control of the Empire as Edwards explained:
And that person is most likely Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe, blind warrior-monk who follows the teachings of the Jedi way that other Jedha natives adhere to. “The Force is basically in Star Wars like a religion, and they’re losing their faith in the period that we start the movie,” Edwards said of the world which has somehow found REM’s 1991 album Outta Time:
We were trying to find a physical location we could go to that would speak to the themes of losing your faith and the choice between letting the Empire win, or evil win, and good prevailing. It got embodied in this place we called Jedha.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens December 16 worldwide and stars Felicity Jones,Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed and Forest Whitaker. A new trailer for the film will pop up on Thursday, but if you can’t wait that long then here’s a gallery of brand new images from the film to help tide you over.