‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Director Reveals New, Force-Sacred World Jedha

The latest trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is fresh in the minds of fans, having just dropped earlier this week, and now Gareth Edwards, the film’s director, has chosen to reveal further details regarding Jedha, a new planet important to both the Empire and the Rebellion.

Jedha serves as something of a galactic Mecca according to Edwards, a meeting place for those who follow the ways of the Force. Although previous movies in the saga have focused on the Jedi and their relationship with the galaxy, the Force is also a religion within the world of Star Wars, touching the lives of countless millions.

As Edwards noted while speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the universe of Star Wars must naturally be filled with throngs of people who believe in the Jedi and who have been moved by the Force in their own way. Within the time period in which the film is set, however, faith in the Jedi is receding as the Empire finds itself ascendant.

“The Force is basically in Star Wars like a religion, and they’re losing their faith in the period that we start the movie…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. It got embodied in this place we called Jedha.”

Rogue One’s production designers took inspiration from our own world to create Jedha, filling its cities with Ottoman-inspired architecture and bustling, narrow alleyways reminiscent of a Middle Eastern setting. The desert sands of Jedha may recall those of Tatooine just as easily as they do a real-world holy land, but Edwards points out that the planet is a place of pilgrimage, where those who believe in the power of the Force gather. It is also an “occupied territory,” having fallen to the Empire, as Jedha is home to something equally valuable to both the Imperials and the Rebels.

Edwards was circumspect when discussing exactly why the Empire is on Jedha, but Donnie Yen, who plays blind warrior monk Chirrut Imwe in Rogue One, recently revealed that the new planet is a source of Khyber crystals, the Force-sensitive minerals found in the lightsaber of every Jedi. As Gizmodo points out, the crystals are also a key component in the Death Star’s main weapon. Since one of the very first images of the moon-sized battle station in Rogue One‘s trailer depicts its planet-destroying laser being set into place, it may be no accident that the Death Star finds its way to Jedha, as it appears to do during the course of the film.

While the Empire may find something of tremendous value in Jedha, they are apparently not alone. According to Edwards, a major part of the mission Jyn Erso and her colleagues undertake in Rogue One is seeking out someone whose assistance is key in striking at the Empire.

“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.”

While it remains to be seen how much of a role this new, Force-aligned world will play in the upcoming film, fans have little time to wait before experiencing it for the first time. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters in just a few short months, on December 16.

[Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios]