Storyclock Research Log

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

By Seth Worley

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This week in the Research Log, we're clocking 2016's ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY, a Star Wars story about Star Wars that takes place before Star Wars. As usual, we've watched the movie and used the Storyclock Notebook to visualize the film's structure in the form of a clock.


Let's Break It Down

  • Opening Image: "Stardust." Jyn loses her parents to the Empire. "Long ride ahead of us."
  • Normalcy: Cassian on the fringes of the rebellion. Jyn on the fringes of society.
  • Normalcy Disrupted: Rumors of a planet killer.
  • Herald: Jyn busted out by Cassian and K2, Mon and Jimmy Smits present the mission - find Saw.
  • Rational Approach: Jyn acts too cool for school for a few minutes but then she's like okay (sometimes your drama is better spent in other acts).
  • Acceptance and Break Into Act 2: Trust goes both ways. Jyn, Cassian, and K2 depart.
  • B Story Begins: Death Star reveal with Tarken and Krenyk.
  • Trailer Moments/Promise of the Premise: Battle on Jedha, Chirrut arriving by just kicking all the ass that ever existed, meeting the rest of the team also.
  • Midpoint/Arrival at Solution: They find Saw. Jyn watches the message from Galen. "Stardust." Escape from Jedha. The team is all together now, and *Jyn has a purpose*.
  • Things Get Worse: EADU. Krenyk kills Galen. Jyn discovers Cassian was going to kill Galen.
  • Hero's Last Resort: Jyn makes a plea to the council.
  • Game Over: The council is no help.
  • Breakthrough and Rebirth/Break Into Act 3: Cassian and company are like, "we're in this together, girl." Bodhi says the title and we depart to Act 3.
  • Hero Gains Upper Hand: They arrive and infiltrate the base, finding the archive room.
  • Shadow's Final Push: AT-AT's show up. Everyone starts dying.
  • Ultimate Breakthrough: Jyn makes it to the roof and broadcasts the signal. Then she and Cassian go die.
  • New Normalcy: Vader literally steals the entire movie effortlessly. Things are real now. We're at war. Star Wars.
  • Final Image: Leia: "Hope."

Stuff That Stood Out To Me

  • This movie's structure is freakishly simple. As it should be.
  • Something I've noticed here and in other modern blockbusters: the third act is longer than usual, subsequently condensing the structure of the first two acts, so i.e. the midpoint now falls around the 5:00 mark instead of the 6:00 mark.

Not a long blog post, I know. This story is just super simple, and a lot of what's particularly special about it is in its execution. A great cast, beautiful cinematography and production design, and a pitch-perfect tone. Also Vader in the hallway. And Gareth Edwards is a gift to society. Whatever he brings us next will be undoubtably rad.

Storyclock Notebook

A notebook designed for screenwriters and story nerds.

Shop Now