Give My Love to Rose: A Song for Unsung Heroes
[Minor spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead]
Rose (Kelly Marie Tran ) is my new favorite character. And I hope she’s yours too.
Not only is she arguably the true hero of the film, she provides not one but two of the key lines necessary to understand the film. Beyond that, she does something I never thought possible: she turns the entire concept of heroism upside down and reminds us that true heroes aren’t just the ones who get attention and accolades.
The first time we meet Rose she is starstruck by Finn (John Boyega), saying she isn’t used to talking to heroes. Rose works behind the scenes in the Resistance, “behind [the] pipes” as she calls it.
Her sister Paige, with whom she is very close, is a hero in her own right as witnessed in the opening space battle as a gunner in one of the Resistance’s bombers. Through Paige’s heroism and sacrifice, the Resistance is able to take out one of the Empire’s ships. Poe, in talking to Leia, says “Heroes were on that mission.”
“Heroes, but no leaders,” Leia chides him as she demotes him for his insubordination.
Why does this matter? Because the film shows us as important as the heroes are — the Poe Damerons, the Luke Skywalkers — the people who really make things run are the others who are so often nameless and faceless. Finn’s background as a former stormtrooper janitor should also be noted here, and why it’s so important that Finn and Rose get paired up for the better part of the movie.
There has been a decent amount of complaints over the Canto Bight storyline, but it is, in fact, one of the most important in the film. Not only does Rose deliver a strong populist critique of this new hive of scum and villainy — the 1%, war profiteers selling to both sides of the conflict — she wakes Finn up from being dazzled by their surroundings.
“Look closer,” Rose tells him, and he begins to see the people behind the scenes — many of them oppressed or forgotten, many of them children — who actually make everything run.
“Look closer,” as we remember maybe it’s worth staying through the credits of a movie to appreciate all the people who worked on it rather than just to see if there’s a stinger scene to set up the next movie.
“Look closer,” as we remember all of the Star Wars fans who have waited for years to see representations of themselves on screen. Because perhaps even the most important is noticing the actors playing these roles. The fact that both Finn and Rose are being portrayed by people of color adds another layer to the commentary they bring. And especially given the problems of erasure of Asians and women in tentpole blockbusters, Kelly Marie Tran getting the breakout hero role of the film should cause people to take notice.
“Look closer,” at all of the people who never get noticed, but who heroically do their work every day.
A final visit to see the children of Canto Bight at the end of the film puts a cap on why it’s so important we look closer and the importance of heroism to inspire others.
And then Rose delivers the most important line in the entire movie during the film’s finale in the battle on Crait, which gives me unending hope in a time of darkness: That’s how we’re going to win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love.
With so much hate out there, we can remember this and brush off the hate like Luke Skywalker brushes his shoulders after a barrage of laser blasts. The love and self-sacrifice and heart that Rose brings to The Last Jedi is one of the best parts of the film.
Rose is my hero.