Fan film explores Star Wars through the eyes of a Stormtrooper
Of all the incredible accomplishments and advancements made in the Star Wars mythos by Star War Episode VII: The Force Awakens, one of the least appreciated is the humanizing of the formerly faceless Stormtroopers. Now a group of fans have gone even further towards letting audiences identify with the men in white with their emotional fan film Jakku: First Wave.
The film was created by Benjamin Eck and a team of fellow die-hard Star Wars fans, and tells the brief story of three Stormtroopers who were part of the first wave of the Battle of Jakku, the last stand of the Empire and the final battle of the Galactic Civil War. The three, in the belly of an AT-AT, discuss why they joined and what they are fighting for in a conversation that could have come from the lips of any group of soldiers over the course of history. It is a wonderful, humanizing work, and it shows just how far the Star Wars universe and its iconic Stormtroopers have come from their humble beginnings.
In the original Star Wars trilogy, Stormtroopers were little more than the faceless minions of evil. Any lines one might receive were the usual, bumbling level of incompetent stooging one might expect from a Saturday morning cartoon. And it worked. Star Wars was brand new, and there was no time or reason to explore the characters of people that we were supposed to be happy were being shot.
Then the prequel trilogy came along, and Star Wars was finally given an opportunity to explore new dimensions of its universe. Unfortunately the areas they chose to explore were inter-galactic trade policies, open forum Senate meetings, and the most unpleasant, cringe-inducing “love” story of all science fiction – possibly just fiction period. The only expansion upon the story of the Stormtroopers was finding out their precursors were a little less than human.
However, the new age of Star Wars is clearly going in a different direction. Stormtroopers are being given emotion and character. The scene where Finn is confronted by fellow Stormtrooper FN-2199 (or TR-8R depending on who you ask) is unforgettable, and his shout of “Traitor!” is filled with passion. Finn is one of the protagonists of the new trilogy and is himself a former Stormtrooper. Hell, simply the fact that Stormtroopers seem at least semi-capable in combat and have gained the ability to hit the broad side of a barn is a testament to how far they’ve come.
The Star Wars franchise is stepping firmly away from the grand scale plots of the prequel trilogy and is embracing more grounded, character driven stories. Rouge One comes out later this year and will show Star Wars from the perspective of one of the many groups of freedom fighters resisting the Empire when it was at its full strength. No galactic politics, no magic martial monks, just the experience of what it is like to be a soldier in a war – in the stars.
It feels like Star Wars is finally returning to it’s roots, to it’s most core concept. War in Space. A tale of simple men and women swept up in a conflict the scale of which is beyond their and our ability to fully comprehend, and yet that is still able to tell an endearing and relatable story. Because in spite of the technology and the aliens and the fantastic nature of the setting, these are still human stories. And we will always be able to find humanity, even where we least expect it.
Even in Stormtroopers.