The Empire has plans for Jedha, and it all revolves around a key element of Star Wars mythology that we’ve never before seen in the official canon.
They’re called “kyber crystals,” and they may be responsible for some of the later film’s biggest plot points, according to Rogue One director Gareth Edwards. The mystery of kyber crystals is intertwined with the planet of Jedha, a new location we caught our first glimpse of in the first Rogue One teaser.
It’s been just under a month since fans got an exclusive look at a new trailer for Rogue One at this year’s Star Wars Celebration, but those who didn’t get a chance to be in the room when the footage was shown have been left out to dry.
Now, Lucasfilm is kicking its marketing game into high gear once again by promising to debut the exclusive trailer during coverage of the Olympic games. In light of that trailer, which should premiere sometime on Thursday, Lucasfilm has given Entertainment Weekly a few more details about filmmaker Gareth Edwards’s new movie.
We learned at Celebration that the movie is partially set on a new planet called Jedha, which is set up as some kind of Jedi holy site. Just as Jerusalem is to Christians and Jews and Meccas is to Muslims, so is Jedha to those who follow the ancient religion of the Force. But at the time of Rogue One, the Force has all but died out after the Emperor’s genocidal campaign against the Jedi.
“It’s a place where people who believe in the Force would go on a pilgrimage,” Edwards says. “It was essentially taken over by the Empire. It’s an occupied territory… for reasons we probably can’t reveal,” Edwards told the magazine. When pressed a little further, Edwards revealed that Jedha is home to a precious natural resource that’s been hiding in plain sight in Star Wars lore since the beginning.
Though Edwards isn’t quoted about it, the EW post posits that Jedha is rich with kyber crystals, the mystical gems that power lightsabers and, conveniently enough for the Empire, the enormous lasers on the planet-destroying Death Star.
The phrase “kyber crystals” has never been uttered by any character in the main films, but their power is accepted in Star Wars canon — the mythical stones were actually a huge part of George Lucas’s early drafts of A New Hope. The official entry in the StarWars.com databank for the “Death Star Superlaser says that each of the Empire’s planet-destroying Death Stars was built around a superlaser array powered by enormous kyber crystals, built by the ancient Sith Order.
Star Wars fans will also remember the crystals from the original Star Wars Expanded Universe novel, Alan Dean Foster’s newly de-canonized Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Foster originally wrote Splinter as a sequel to A New Hope before George Lucas decided to go in a different route for the actual film sequel. In the novel, Luke and Leia are stranded on a seemingly deserted planet and must retrieve a “Kaiburr crystal,” a stone that focuses and magnifies the power of the Force.
It’s easy to see how the kyber crystals fit into the plot of Rogue One. The Rogue Squadron’s goal is to stop the construction of or destroy the Death Star, and it seems that the plucky band of Rebels will try to cut the Empire off at the pass before the baddies can mine enough kyber crystals to power their ultimate weapon.
Edwards also mentions that the rogues congregate on Jedha for other reasons as well. “Within Jedha, even though there’s the oppressive foot of the Empire hanging over them, theres a resistance that won’t give up and our characters have to go and meet people there to try and secure a person from this group,” Edwards says, most likely referring to the still-mysterious freedom fighter Saw Gerrera, played by Forest Whitaker.
What does it all mean? The upcoming trailer release might give us a clue, but we’ll keep our excitement in check until Rogue One hits theaters on December 16.