May the force be with you on your trip
Special effects and digital animation techniques have been essential in the filming of the ‘Star Wars’ films, but many scenes were filmed first in ‘terrestrial’ settings.
From the desert to the snow. In order to recreate the various planets of the ‘Star Wars’ saga, the film crews have travelled the world searching for the most extreme locations. The so-called ‘troglodyte houses’ in Matmata, in the middle of the Tunisian desert became Anakin Skywalker’s home on the planet Tatooine in ‘The Phantom Menace’. Specifically it was the Hotel Sidi Driss. George Lucas already knew the location, as he had filmed part of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ there.
The red Tunisian desert has little in common with the icy plains that surround the old train station in Finse, in Norway. This remote village between Oslo and Bergen played the part of the planet Hoth in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. The landscapes of the area, at several degrees below zero in winter, were perfect for the setting of one of the rebel bases.
Next to Lake Como, Villa del Balbianello (Italy) is where the marriage between Queen Amidala and Anakin Skywalker takes place.
The home of the ‘ewoks’ is very different. The redwood forests in Redwood National Park in California were the perfect location to recreate Endor, the lush planet in ‘The Return of the Jedi’. As a contrast to the lushness of this park, Death Valley can also be found in California and is one of the most arid deserts in the world. Several scenes in ‘The Phantom Menace’ were filmed in this 200km-long arid valley.
The redwood forests in Redwood National Park in California were the perfect location to recreate Endor
In the same film, with the help of infographics, the Plaza de España in Seville (Spain) became Theed, the capital of the Kingdom of Naboo. You can easily recognise its semi-circular shape and the rich decoration of its gallery in many scenes in the film. However, to recreate the constant, internal fire of the planet Mustafar, which appears in the same film, the crew had to travel to Etna, the most active volcano in Europe, in Sicily.
One of the eruption of Etna (Sicily, Italy) simulates the planet Mustafar in ‘The Phantom Menace’.
In contrast, Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s home planet, surprises us in ‘The Revenge of the Sith’ because of its beauty and its lush tropical jungles, bays and small islands. Such an idyllic place could be nowhere else but Krabi in Thailand, one of the favourite places for paradise lovers in the world. The Tikal Jungle in Guatemala is also a dense jungle, and was where part of ‘Star Wars’ was filmed. Full of ancient Mayan temples, it reappears in Episode VII.
A Mayan building in Tikal (Guatemala), setting for ‘Star Wars’ and the new instalment of the series.
No less idyllic is the place where the romantic wedding was filmed between Queen Amidala and Anakin Skywalker on the planet Naboo, during ‘Attack of the Clones’. The scene was shot on the terraces of Villa del Balbianello, next to Lake Como in Italy. This is because, just as the series of films have numerous recognisable literary and historical references, although the story takes place on remote planets, all of them can be found here on Earth.