Ready for another meandering, speculative blog post that asks questions but provides no answers? Great!
With Rogue One just over a month away, we’re about to go in to overdrive with excitement. A new international trailer has only stoked that excitement. As always, it’s natural that we’ve got a million things on our minds, but we’re unlikely to get any resolve until the film drops.
This week I’m wondering about the blind, Force-loving-but-not-Force-using Chirrut Imwe.
In “The Making of Return of the Jedi“, George Lucas himself says that anyone is capable of using the Force:
Further to that point, in A New Hope Obi-Wan explains the Force to Luke, saying that the Force is in all living things. For some reason we assumed (preferred?) that the Force was accessible to a chosen few, despite being given the answer nearly 40 years ago. Just so that we’re clear, this isn’t up for debate; it’s not my opinion, but rather a stone-cold fact that everything alive is a part of the Force. The barrier to using the Force, as Lucas says, is in committing oneself to training. Relatively few people go through that effort.
So what’s the deal with Chirrut? How old is he? That’s one of the keys to this question. Donnie Yen, the actor who portrays Chirrut Imwe is 53 years old. Actor age doesn’t always equal character age, but there has to be some kind of believable range if we’re to buy in. There’s no need to ask whether or not Imwe is older than Yen’s 53. The real question is how young is he? If we stretch the limits of reason here, I think we can say that Chirrut is no younger than 40 at the time of Rogue One (I would imagine he’s even a bit older than that). Can we agree on that? I hope so, because even if you want to go crazy and say he’s as young as 30 (which would be insane), the point of this post still stands.
The Star Wars databank says of Chirrut:
Though he lacks Force abilities, this warrior monk has rigorously honed his body through intense physical and mental discipline.
So let’s recap:
- Rogue One timeframe: 18 years after rise of the Empire,
- No Force abilities despite an intense, life-long devotion to the Force, and honing himself,
- Assume an age of 40.
Chirrut was likely a child well in advance of the Clone Wars, when the Jedi were stretched too thin to recruit new younglings. If Chirrut is 40, then he would have been roughly Anakin’s age when the Clone Wars erupted. Going back even further, he’d have been a boy at the time where Jedi traditionally recruit younglings. If, as Lucas explained to Kasdan, all living things can use the Force given enough training, then what gives? Chirrut is clearly dedicated to the ways of the Force, yet he has no Force abilities? Has Chirrut been on Jedha all his life? That’s another pressing question that needs answering. Does he simply not have a sufficient concentration of midichlorians to make a strong connection to the Force, and was thus overlooked by the Jedi? Did he just slip through the cracks?
Or could the answer lie with another theory that I happen to align with: that the Jedi abandoned Jedha entirely at a certain point? Could part of the fall of the Jedi lie in speculation that they left their ancient home of Jedha years and years ago for cushier digs on Coruscant? With no Sith to challenge them and a growing sense of arrogance, is it possible that the Jedi got complacent, lazy and comfortable? Could they Jedi have left their ancient home, and forgotten about potential recruits living there? This aligns with what we learn about the Jedi Order in the prequels.
Chirrut carries a staff, but he certainly drew the short end of the stick here. He’s got midichlorians, as would you or I if we were in the galaxy far, far away. Lifelong dedication to the Force, and training is a go. Chirrut should have been identified as a potential Jedi at the height of the Jedi Order’s power and reach, but he wasn’t (that we know of).
So what’s your take? What’s going on here? Let me know in the comments below!
Hat tip to @Manabyte and @pablohidalgo for being the troves of info that they are! They helped inspire and inform this post!