Is Donnie Yen’s Rogue One Character Chirrut Îmwe Force-Sensitive or Not?
Chirrut Îmwe, the blind spiritual warrior-monk from the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is probably the most interesting and mysterious character based on what we know from the movie. The biggest question that many people have is whether or not Yen’s character is Force-sensitive. Some recent postings on different sites have confused many of the fans, so we will try to put everything on the table and try to answer the question: “Is Chirrut Îmwe Force-sensitive or not?”…
First let’s start with Chirrut Îmwe’s entry on the official Databank on StarWars.com:
Deeply spiritual, Chirrut Îmwe believes all living things are connected through the Force. His sightless eyes do not prevent him from being a highly skilled warrior. Though he lacks Force abilities, this warrior monk has rigorously honed his body through intense physical and mental discipline.
The highlighted text pretty much answers the question and this article should end here. Unfortunately though, things with the Force are not that trivial. The fact that Îmwe lacks Force abilities doesn’t mean that he can’t feel the Force. Now let’s take a look at Wookieepedia’s entry on the term “Force-sensitive”:
A Force-sensitive, also known as a Force-user, was any individual who was keenly attuned to the flow of the mysterious energy known as the Force. Among their natural gifts, Force-sensitive beings could see things just before they happened, which gave them faster reflexes than most others. With proper training, Force-sensitives could learn to consciously sense and manipulate that energy, which gave them special powers.
I think the meaning of the term “Force-sensitive” is the main reason for the big confusion. Obviously, according to Wookieepedia, Force-sensitive is a synonym of a Force-user. If we use the term this way for Îmwe, then he is not Force-sensitive because “he lacks Force abilities”. Yet still, he does appear to be “sensitive” in the simple and direct meaning of the word, since he senses the Force.
In a recent trailer, promoting the upcoming release of the book Star Wars: Galactic Atlas, Chirrut Îmwe has been described using similar terms from the quote above that has confused many of the fans.
He was described as: “A blind warrior monk and disciplined fighter, Chirrut is attuned to the mystical energy of the Force“.
Apart from the obvious typo (probably just present in the trailer), this quote pretty much uses the same wording as Wookieepedia’s description of “Force-sensitive”. This trailer made many people believe that Îmwe is “Force-sensitive” as a “Force user”. But let’s see what Lucafilm Story Group’s Pablo Hidalgo had to say on the Force a few months ago that gives us a good idea what “attuned to the Force” means, which appears to be the term that confuses fans the most.
First, here’s a recent question from a fan:
@Tweet_Fan2 What does “attuned” mean? And what makes you think it conflicts?
— Pablo Hidalgo (@pablohidalgo) November 8, 2016
And here are Hidalgo’s thoughts on the Force that he shared a few months ago:
@Warregory I’m gonna rip off @BradBirdA113 and say ‘not everyone can become a Jedi, but a Jedi can come from anywhere’ 🙂
— Pablo Hidalgo (@pablohidalgo) September 11, 2016
So to summarize what we understand from all this is that Chirrut Îmwe is not a Force user, he doesn’t have special abilities, but he can listen to it. He is attuned to it. Actually his character stated this pretty clearly in the first trailer:
I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it.
Also, it would be amiss for us to neglect mentioning George Lucas’ view on the Force as well. Surely, many things have evolved over the years, but here’s an interesting quote from a discussion between Lawrence Kasdan and Lucas (via Huffingtonpost):
Kasdan: The Force was available to anyone who could hook into it?
Lucas: Yes, everybody can do it.
We need to make another clarification. In a recent interview with jetsetmag, Donnie Yen revealed that he first turned down to appear in the movie, because he didn’t want to be away from his family for 5 months. Later he changed his mind mainly because of his kids, who wanted their dad to be in Star Wars. Yen also revealed that it was his idea to make his character in Rogue One blind:
The truth is, he initially turned down Star Wars (something 99% of actors not named Harrison Ford couldn’t fathom). “Truthfully, I didn’t want to spend five months apart from my family, filming in London,” he tells me. But then, he mentioned the prospect to his three children. “I asked them ‘how do you feel about daddy doing Star Wars?’ and they flipped out,” he tells me laughing. The film’s young director, Gareth Edwards definitely knew what he was getting when he brought on Yen, and allowed him to flesh out his Force-sensitive character how he saw fit (“it was my idea to make him blind,” Yen says proudly). Today, Yen is pleased with his contribution to the film and even embraces the fact that he will forever be immortalized as a Lego (“I think I might give them out as gifts,” he jokes).
The author of this article used the words “Force sensitive” for Yen’s character and many people were confused. We’ve reached out to the author and asked him for clarification. Here’s what he said:
@StarWarsNewsNet Another interesting tidbit: The cane/staff was also Donnie’s idea. And he also reaffirmed that there are “no Jedi” in R1.
— Ty Fahlman (@TyFahlman) November 10, 2016
So the term “Force-sensitive” was not used by Yen in this interview, it was used by the author in the direct meaning of the word – that Îmwe senses the Force. Also it’s nice to hear Yen confirming that there will be no Jedi in Rogue One. That’s something that director Gareth Edwards said long ago.
We are convinced that although he has attuned himself mentally and spiritually to the mystical energy which allows him to “see” despite his physical blindness, Chirrut does not have the natural abilities that he would require to manipulate it. So we don’t recommend that you go in to Rogue One expecting to see Donnie Yen levitating things and Force-pushing stormtroopers, but instead, look for a more spiritual and mental approach to the ancient religion from his character. We look forward to reading your thoughts on the character’s connection to the Force in the comments below.