Jakku: First Wave

Being an Imperial Stormtrooper is pretty much the worst job in any universe. Not only are you nothing but a faceless grunt, but your general ineffectiveness has made you and your fellow troopers into the laughingstocks of the Galactic Civil War. Plus, there’s the fact that you work for people who are very clearly the bad guys, so you can’t even tell yourself that you’re sacrificing your life for some greater good.

Filmmaker Benjamin Eck isn’t quite so dismissive of the ol’ bucket-heads, though, as he has written and directed a new short film that focuses on the actual human beings who wear that white armor. Titled Jakku: First Wave, the short centers on three Stormtroopers in an Imperial Walker who are about to be deployed into battle—specifically the Battle Of Jakku, a.k.a. the reason Rey has all of those crashed Star Destroyers to explore in The Force Awakens. Rather than present the Stormtroopers as (relatively useless) killing machines, Eck’s short has them telling stories about why they joined the Empire and simply distracting themselves from the awful situation they’re about to jump into. On his official site, Eck even explains that the dialog was “inspired by real life stories from U.S. soldiers.”

It’s all very Saving Private Ryan, and it almost—almost—makes you feel bad for all of those Stormtroopers who get killed in the movies.