26 January 2017

Books: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed (2016)

Reading novelizations of movies, for me, was once a great past time. But most, I discovered, were just a translation of the screenplay, with the writer not adding much –if anything- to what was seen on screen. I had always hoped, knowing how films were made, that we see new scenes because to keep a movie flowing, to keep the audience in rapt attention, some scenes are deleted. Novelizations have the ability to not only add those cut scenes (because books don’t have to be linear) back in, but expand the set pieces. Alan Dean Foster did that with the original novelization of Star Wars back in 1977 and again when he penned the book version of The Force Awakens. And for this novel version of the big screen film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Alexander Freed does –more or less- a straight forward work of the screenplay. However, as it’s become aware, Rogue One when through extensive re-shoots which meant that Freed needed to alter his book to fit the screen version. 

Still, we do get a glimpse at what was lost here. It seems clear that Bodhi Rook had a bigger part in the original script, and while that was curtailed back in the re-shoots, some extra stuff has been added to this book. Of course the question is how much is what Freed is just adding to extend the page count and what was part of the film before changes were made? Who knows?

And the while Jyn is on the tower getting ready to send the Death Star plans to Raddus on his ship, the Profundity, the TIE fighter that shows up in the trailers to the film is described here in the book. We also get a clearer –though never spoken- understanding of the relationship between Chirrut and Blaze. Freed dances around the subject, but much like in the film, here in the book it’s sort of obvious that the two were connected in more ways than being brothers in the Ancient Order of the Whills.

Finally, for me, I get a better sense of what I thought was a plot hole with the brief scene of Artoo and C3PO on Yavin 4. Near the end of the film we see R2-D2 and C3P0 in the Rebel base watching the X-Wings leave to fight over Scarif. Threepio and Artoo don’t appear to be leaving so they could be with Princess Leia on Tantive IV at the beginning of A New Hope. I missed it in the film, but Freed clarifies it in the book –they were likely the last to leave the base:

“Intercepted Imperial transmission, ma’am,” the private answered. “Rebels on Scarif.”

Mon Mothma fixed the private with a sober look. “I need to speak to Admiral Raddus,” she said. 

“He’s left already.” The man was almost stammering. “He’s in orbit aboard the Profundity. He’s gone to fight.”

“I see,” she said, and slowly smiled.

Note that he merely left Yavin, and was still in orbit, gathering the forces there at the moment. Then:

“Less than ten minutes later, sirens were announcing the departure of Red, Blue, Green, and Gold Squadrons along with the U-wing transports. Raddus had already contacted all capital ships within range of Yavin or Scarif.”

And as the last transports are filling, she sees R2-D2 and C-3PO going towards tarmac, meaning towards those transports being filled:

As the last transports began to fill, she turned back to the corridors of the ziggurat and set out for the communications center. She had to step aside for a gold-plated protocol droid and an astromech unit hurrying toward the tarmac, and faintly overheard the former indignantly declare:

‘Scarif? They’re going to Scarif? Why does nobody ever tell me anything, Artoo…?’”

And that meant –and reinforced by the Lucasfilm Story Group recently- that Princess Leia was on Yavin 4 during the events unfolding in Rogue One. And in the novel, her ship was under repairs on Profundity, and not fully completed when she made her escape, custodian of the stolen Death Star plans.  

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