Rebecca Vineyard
Updated December 19, 2016

One of the (many) challenges of Rogue One was making the film feel like a contemporary to the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, which was released nearly 40 years ago. After all, the events of Rogue One lead right up to the events in the original 1977 film. Luckily, director Gareth Edwards found a really cool way to help create that illusion. In fact, he actually used unseen archive Star Wars footage in Rogue One.

We’ve been getting retro Star Wars vibes since the Rogue One featurette came out. Then, reviews of Rogue One cited the nostalgic elements, mixed we new, edgy choices. But we didn’t realize that some of those retro elements were literally from A New Hope until now.

Edwards told about how he got ahold of the old footage: “We went to Skywalker ranch, and there’s the archives there.” But the mission was never to find that footage; it was more for general research.

We don’t know for sure, but we have a feeling Edwards’ next words were, “Uhm, what?” Instead, he tells RadioTimes, “And you go… ‘has someone gone through all this? And it’s like ‘not really, they’re not fully like digitized at all.’”

So, in a move that’s basically genius, Edwards got the negatives. He found unused pilot footage from A New Hope. Filmed as part of the assault on the Death Star, these clips never made it into the movie. However, they come from the iconic X-wing callsign moment.

Edwards found that with some finessing, they could go perfectly into the X-Wing dogfight sequence above the Imperial complex at Scarif. We thought some of those its looked *too* perfectly retro, and we were right!

Says Edwards of the feat, “Through the magic of [special effect studio Industrial Light and Magic] they cut round them and manipulated them and stuck them into our cockpits. It’s the sort of thing you think, ‘how many people will notice?’ Do you know what I mean? It’s like, is this a lot of effort for very little reward?”

Honestly, we love the retro vibes that scene, and the film in general, gave us. Gareth Edwards isn’t alone: we totally punched the air when we saw the X-wings, too.