Though all fans might have found themselves choking back a slight lump in their throat during the final few significant scenes of Rogue One, the Star Wars universe isn't exactly renowned for being a tear-jerker. But the following fan story regarding the importance of representation in Rogue One will definitely leave you at least a little bleary eyed. Actor Diego Luna, who played Cassian Andor in Rogue One, shared the story via his Twitter account with the caption, "I got emotional reading this!" Guys, it's easy to understand why.
Originally published by the Tumblr user time&space, the story begins,
I took my father to see Rogue One today. I’ve wanted to take him for a while. I wanted my Mexican father, with his thick Mexican accent, to experience what it was like to see a hero in a blockbuster film speak the way he does.
It then continues on to explain how supremely moved and proud the father was to see himself represented in a mainstream movie, courtesy of Luna's performance, and my heart is pretty much bursting right now:
He then asked me why Diego Luna hadn’t changed his accent and I told him that Diego has openly talked about keeping his accent and how proud he is of it. And my dad was silent for a while and then he said, “And he was a main character.” And I said, “He was.” And my dad was so happy.
The story ends with the statement, "Representation matters," and this post, and Luna's emotional sharing of it, is wonderfully heartwarming proof of the positive impact of representation.
While Star Wars: The Force Awakens could certainly be commended for it's diverse cast, which included the British actor John Boyega in a lead role, alongside other great talent like Guatemala-born actor Oscar Isaac and the Kenyan Lupita Nyong'o in supporting ones, Rogue One is by far the most diverse Star Wars movie yet.
Featuring a Latino main hero (played by Luna) alongside a female lead (Felicity Jones), Rogue One was also refreshing for representing a diverse supporting cast which included such superb talent as Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk and Donnie Yen.
This sort of representation is essential not just in order for cinema to realistically reflect, and celebrate, the diversity of modern society, but to also reflect that of cinema audiences too. Which is exactly why the Tumblr story that Luna shared feels so wonderfully powerful; it showcases the monumental real life impact of that representation.
Luna discussed the Star Wars franchise's newfound diversity in an interview with Bustle in December 2016, in which he explained that audiences are the ones influencing progressive cinematic content and casting:
If you go to the cinema today and turn your face back toward the screen, and look at the audience, you'll see that diversity, and that has to be reflected on the screen. So I think what's happening is that audiences are shaping the cinema that they want to see. They're getting involved and their voice is being heard.
And that voice was powerfully evident in the Tumblr story that Luna shared on Twitter. As well as being phenomenally moving and terrific evidence of why representation is so crucial for cinema and the audiences who invest in it, the story also underlined one other vital truth: diverse cinema is hugely successful.
Presently, Rogue One has grossed an outstanding $801.9 million at the global box office (and will no doubt earn much more beyond that), and was the highest grossing film of 2016. Which is amazing, but an achievement that could easily be attributed to the Star Wars brand. However, you need only look to a movie franchise like the massively diverse, and hugely successful, Fast And Furious movies to see that diversity isn't just important, but that it also pays off big at the box office (Furious 7 was so successful it actually became the seventh highest grossest film of all time).
And that's encouraging. Because as that adorable, mascara smudging Rogue One story, and the movie itself, proved, we need more mainstream cinema which reflects the diversity of its audiences. And if movies featuring diverse casts are doing this well at the box office, then it'll hopefully send the right message to those people who have been claiming for years that these kinds of movies don't make money.
Representation is important, and here's hoping we'll all be able to see representations the modern world as it actually is in many more mainstream movies to come.