When reading/watching most reviews of Rogue One, Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe is always referenced as the standout character. Be it how he elegantly uses his staff to disarm enemy troops or the fact that he does so as a blind man, Chirrut is an extremely unique character.But what made him a standout to me was not his fighting skills, but his connection with the spiritual. Chirrut wields no lightsaber, nor can he use mind tricks yet he is as strong with the force as any Jedi Knight.
*Heavy spoilers of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story follow
I am one with the force, the force is with me
Admiral Ackbar’s saying of iconic phrase “may the force be with you” is now quite hollow in comparison to Chirrut’s “I am one with the force, the force is with me”. Both quotes are said by non-Jedi, but the main difference between the two is that Chirrut’s expands on the mythos of the force whilst Ackbar’s only acknowledges its existence. Countless times throughout the film Chirrut whispers those words to himself and moments, sometimes minutes later, he does something absolutely incredible. There is no reasonable answer to how a blind man can disarm a dozen Stormtroopers or destroy an airborn TIE-Fighter with a crossbow blaster except for the fact that he is channeling the unreasonable- the force.
For the first time in the franchise I actually believed that there truly existed a cosmic energy that binded all living things in the universe together. After Rogue One, the force no longer seemed like it pertained solely to the Jedi but to anyone who believed it. In the film’s epic third act, Chirrut offers to walk into heavy enemy fire in order to turn of a switch that will disarm the shield above Scarif consequentially aiding the rebels in their mission to steal the Death Star plans. Whilst repeating the soon to be iconic phrase “I am one with, the force and the force is with me” blasts land all around but fail to him. Chirrut astonishingly accomplishes the mission but meets his unfortunate demise right afterwards. It wasn’t his training,combat experience and certainly not his eyes that guided him in this bone chilling sequence, but the force.
The will of Chirrut was passed on to long time friend Baze who comforted our blind warrior in his final breaths. Baze soon walks into battle saying the very words that he failed to acknowledge throughout the film “I am one with the force, the force is with me”. Enemy blasts fail to hit him as he slowly marches forward and accurately shoots back. Baze’s end is soon met and he dies with the will of his friend in him. It was here that I understood the force not as a source of power but as something that could connect people through love and the human spirit.
I left Rogue One focused not on the epic Darth Vader scene, but ruminating on the possible philosophical meaning behind the force. Perhaps, I thought leaving the theater, the force did not die with Baze but was now with me. I questioned if something in our universe binds me with my loved ones? Myself with my readers? Do I simply have to believe in the “unseen” to find out if this is true? Maybe.
So to a world where I sometimes feel like I can no longer move ahead or that I am completely defeated I say to it “I am one with the force, the force is with me.”