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Never underestimate the power of die-hard Star Wars fans. They don't just consume; they also create. With that in mind, we've seen some truly creative Star Wars fan films over the years, but the latest batch has got to be the most impressive. In fact, an award-winning Star Wars fan film has just landed on the web, and it's arguably more emotionally resonant than anything we've seen from the seven canon films. Check it out below and prepare yourself for a tidal wave of feelings.
Titled TK-436: A Stormtrooper Story, the fan film chronicles the life of a stormtrooper fighting in the name of the Galactic Empire. The story follows him as he signs as an imperial soldier, leaving the woman he loves behind on his home planet. As he fights, he witnesses numerous atrocities, but his narration emphasizes his understanding that he's battling chaos to maintain order. He's even one of the soldiers present on Tatooine when Luke Skywalker's Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru get incinerated during the events of A New Hope. It's not officially canon, but that's truly awesome for fans of the saga. As time wears on, he finds himself fighting in a battlefield on a far away planet against the Rebellion, spotting artillery for a fellow stormtrooper when he realizes the Rebel operating the gun emplacement he's about to destroy is the love he left back home. Although he tries to stop it, the artillery barrage commences, and she ultimately dies in the blast, leaving him alone, and truly committed to the mission of the Empire.
I'm going to propose a possibly controversial opinion: there's never been a more haunting story told within the true Star Wars film canon than the events depicted in TK-436. It's dark, it's gripping, and it might even represent a better stormtrooper character arc than the one experienced by John Boyega's Finn in The Force Awakens.
What's also fantastic about TK-436 is the way in which it presents a seemingly neutral view on the Galactic Civil War. As an audience we know the evil of the Empire, but this film treats war as hell on both sides -- the stormtroopers may be cold, but the Rebels are terrorists. Even by the time the film has come to an end, our protagonist has not shake from his commitment to the establishment government; if anything he doubles down and gives himself over to the Empire even more.
The ultimate beauty of the Star Wars universe is how much room there is for fan interpretation. TK-436 offers a grim look into the war between the Rebels and the Empire, but plenty of other Fan Film Award winners take a far different approach to the subject matter. Some featured incredibly offbeat and comedic animations styles, while others focused on The Force, and the religious dogma of the Star Wars universe. So many different interpretations, and all of them are correct in their own special way.
Dear Lucasfilm, Disney, and Hollywood: please take note of TK-436. It's a beautiful adaptation of the Star Wars mythos, and it perfectly encapsulates mature place that the movies are already moving towards. We will just have to wait and see if Rogue One: A Star Wars Story can match this emotional resonance when it hits theaters on December 16.