During Star Wars Celebration Europe, Director Gareth Edwards revealed that the planet Jedha would play a central role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and that the planet was considered the “holy land” for Jedi. Today, Edwards provided some additional insight on the planet Jedha to Entertainment Weekly‘s always excellent Anthony Breznican.
Edwards explains to EW that they were looking for a location that would embody the spiritual battle between good and evil:
“The Force is basically in Star Wars like a religion, and they’re losing their faith in the period that we start the movie,” says Gareth Edwards, director of the story that’s set just prior to the events of 1977’s originalStar Wars.
“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,” he says. “It got embodied in this place we called Jedha.”
Notably, it seems that Jedha represents more than just a symbolic or spiritual conflict. Edwards intimates that Jedha has a practical, perhaps tangible, importance as well:
“It’s a place where people who believe in the Force would go on a pilgrimage,” Edwards says. “It was essentially taken over by the Empire. It’s an occupied territory… for reasons we probably can’t reveal.”
Pressed for a little more detail about why the Empire would send its military to dominate this world of worship, Edwards says, “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.”
Breznican reasonably theorizes that perhaps Edwards is referring to a natural resource that would be valuable to both the Jedi and the Empire. Perhaps the planet houses kyber crystals that power lightsabers and the Death Star? It’s certainly a very logical theory that we at MakingStarWars.net have discussed in the past. Given that the Death Star plays such a central role in this story, the question of what powers its laser would be an important one.
Jedha also seems to have a third layer of importance beyond the symbolism and its natural resources: an important ally.
“Within Jedha, even though there’s the oppressive foot of the Empire hanging over them, there’s a resistance that won’t give up and our characters have to go and meet people there to try and secure a person from this group,” Edwards says.
Given my substantial interest in Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus, both residents of Jedha, the first person that I thought of was Chirrut, primarily because it’s been made quite clear that Chirrut is a spiritual character with connections to the Force. However, it’s interesting to me that he’s using the singular here–“a person”–when Chirrut and Malbus have primarily been grouped together in most descriptions to this point. Could it be someone more practical to the actual war, like Saw Gerrera? Could it be someone we haven’t yet been introduced to?
The multi-layered, nuanced importance of Jedha in this Star Wars story is really intriguing to me and definitely adds a story depth that I’m definitely interested in learning more about.