Greetings, Star Wars fans! Today, we now have some new information on Rogue One that we can actually sink our teeth into. What a difference. We’ve been through some ups and downs with rumors of reshoots etc, so it feels so good to actually have something concrete. One of the characters that we now have enough to start saying something about is Chirrut Imwe, played by Donnie Yen. Let’s take a look at the latest info on this character quite unlike anything we’ve seen in Star Wars.
We know a few facts about Chirrut. We know his is blind. He is a warrior of sorts, using what appears to be a staff or spear as his weapon of choice. There is a good chance that he is based on the much loved Japanese fictional character Zatoichi, who was also a blind warrior. For Chirrut, blindness may be used as a defense mechanism in a way, making him look less like a threat. Storm troopers seem to ignore him as he walks by in the trailer, only to be smacked.
We have now recently learned that Chirrut is a follower of the Force, but is not a Jedi. He’s described as a “spiritual warrior”. In Wednesdays post, mazlow01 points out that this bears some resemblance to the Church of the Force, of which Lor San Tekka was a member. He’s got a good point, but I would also point out Maz Kanata as being similar. This seems to be an emerging trend in Star Wars. We have a number of characters that aren’t Jedi or Sith, but still have some connection to the light side and dark side of the Force, respectively. Snoke and Kylo Ren seem to fit this category, but a little more on the dark side.
We also have the idea that Baze and Chirrut are sort of buddies, and are complementary in their view points. While Chirrut is an adherent to the Force, it would seem that Baze doesn’t believe in it and prefers blasters. We have from the new EW.com article that Baze is referred to as “Chirrut’s Force-doubting rough-and-tumble protector.”
Baze, given this skepticism toward the Force, may be play the role of a Han Solo type character, who is dismissive of the Force. We a can expect Baze and Chirrut to come face-to-face on their views of the Force in Rogue One. These kinds of scenes are great, and it is characters with opposing views like this that make for great dialogue. It creates conflict, and as a result enables the characters to explain themselves and what they’re passionate about. Just like Han referred to the Force as “simple tricks and nonsense”, we may have a scene between Baze and Chirrut about whether the Force has meaning in their world. That said, Chirrut is also seen using what looks like a bowcaster in this promotional image:
Let’s look at his name. When I first heard it, I thought about splitting the name up:
Chirrut = Chi + Rut
“Chi” is an Eastern concept of life force, or energy. Chi is a crucial part of Eastern medicine and metaphysics. It is an energy that pervades all life and beyond. It has been pointed out numerous times that “Chi” bears close parallels to the concept of the Force. Next we have the word “Rut”, meaning a low point, or a period of time full of difficulties to be overcome. Putting together, and we might wonder if this character is in a “rut” with the Force. Was Chirrut once a powerful Force user that is going through a low point? In another article from EW, it is said that “used his spirituality to overcome his blindness and become a formidable warrior”, which is kind of suggestive of this idea of his blindness being a challenge that he has to overcome.
We can see from the trailer that Chirrut is a powerful fighter. We also know that he has a stunt-heavy role, given Donnie Yen’s talents with martial arts. The makers of the film are taking his scenes very seriously, so seriously that he is one of the people brought back for reshoots. To me this says they are perfecting his scenes, and this says more about how critical this character is in the film. USA Today quotes Donnie Yen about his character:
Yen already is ensconced in the Star Wars cone of secrecy. All he’ll spill is that his character “is definitely an important guy,” he had fun doing it and “I will get some action.”
I came across this theory on twitter that I like:
Star Wars Theory: Chirrut Imwe worked with Kanan after the events at the end of Season 2 of #StarWarsRebels…
— Megan Z Cullinan (@MegZCull) June 23, 2016
Which would be pretty cool actually. So the scenario would go that since Kanan has become blind, he must leave to find someone to train him to live and fight with this condition. It would be cool if this encounter deepens or even causes Chirrut’s devotion to the Force. Kanan would learn specific techniques to sense one’s opponent. The other possibility is the other way around. Kanan is such a natural at fighting with the Force while blind that it could be that Kanan encounters Chirrut, and helps Chirrut become a fighter.
Finally, the EW article mentioned above makes the comparison between Baze and Chirrut and the characters Tahei and Matashichi seen at the opening of the Hidden Fortress. It is long known that the beginning of ANH was also inspired by these two characters that introduce a large scale battle from the point of view of two very minor individuals in the grand scheme. In fact, they quote Kathy Kennedy with the following:
Like the original Star Wars, these characters owe a debt to the two peasants from a 1958 Akira Kurosawa adventure saga. “They’re inspired, again, by what inspired George in The Hidden Fortress, “ Kennedy says. “You could even say to some extent it’s, you know, R2 and C-3PO, a little bit of that.”
With that idea in mind, it raises the question if we will see Baze and Chirrut in the opening of the movie. I could totally see them introduced in some sort of action, and they are squabbling over something that they disagree with. That’s again the beauty of characters that are buddies with opposing views. It makes for great dialogue and drama. This raises the question, will we see these two split up and reunited later in the film, like Artoo and Threepio did and Tahei and Matashichi before them?