Star Wars prequel/spin-off Rogue One was clearly steeped in the aesthetics and tone of original 1977 film Star Wars (aka Episode IV: A New Hope) from its very first trailer – but as it turns out, there’s an even deeper connection between the two movies.

In fact, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards has revealed that certain scenes in his new film were created from discarded footage shot for the original Star Wars – and it all came about because of some old reels of film he found while doing research. 

“We went to Skywalker ranch, and there’s the archives there,” Edwards told RadioTimes.com.

“And as we’re walking around, and doing all the cool things and looking at the Millennium Falcon and trying on Han Solo’s jacket and things like that, in the back at the bottom was all these cans of film. And we said ‘what are they?’ and they said ‘Oh, it’s Star Wars.’

“And you go… ‘has someone gone through all this? And it’s like ‘not really, they’re not fully like digitised at all.’”

Sensing an opportunity, Edwards got his hands on the film negatives, and realised he had the perfect chance for a subtle homage in his hands.

“We got the neg documents and found the clips from A New Hope that hadn’t been used,” he recalled. “And there’s pilot photography and lines that were never featured in A New Hope."

The deleted scenes Edwards included were from the iconic Death Star assault towards the end of the film, specifically the fan-favourite X-Wing callsign exchange that precedes the Rebel Alliance’s attack on the Imperial superweapon (see below).

And with a few tweaks, Edwards found that some clips fitted perfectly into his own X-Wing dogfight sequence. 

“Through the magic of ILM [special effect studio Industrial Light and Magic] they cut round them and manipulated them and stuck them into our cockpits,” he said.

“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?”

But of course, the intensely scrutinous Star Wars fans who’ve seen the footage thus far have been appreciative.

“At the world premiere in LA, there was this massive cheer at a particular point in the film,” Edwards said. “It was the only time during the premiere where I actually punched the air.”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in cinemas now