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The location


A Visit to Naboo

The inspiration for this trip came from the book 'The Making of The Phantom Menace'. Page 95 mentions the place where some of the Naboo forest scenes were filmed: 'Whippendell Wood'. Just the name... it did not seem like much to go on, but it was an interesting challenge.

Entrance to Whippendell Wood

Finding the wood was easy - it's on maps and is located conveniently close to Leavesden Studios. So close, in fact, that the unit could probably have left the studio each day and been at the set in under half an hour. But without any landmarks to search for, was there really any chance of finding anywhere recognisable from the film?

The only option was simply to go to the wood and search, basically at random! A first visit was unsuccessful, and also somewhat disheartening, as the magnitude of hunting for a few specific trees in a sizeable wood became apparent. This did not put me off totally however, and for a second visit new tactics were tried. The first was a suggestion from someone else, that the film unit would have chosen spots which were not too far from the larger tracks which run through the wood - why tramp through the undergrowth carrying heavy camera equipment if you can set up on a road and shoot into the trees? And secondly, I chose to begin at the entrance which was nearest the studio. (On my first visit I had entered from the opposite side of the wood, which may have been foolish in retrospect but didn't seem important at the time.)

I had given myself a day to roam the wood, but to my surprise I found the first scene - the clearing where Qui-Gon destroys the STAP - almost immediately. Gratifyingly, it was both near to a road and not too far from the entrance. Subsequent discoveries became more difficult, having only a tree or two to look for, but when they came there was a real sense of achievement. It was also fascinating to learn how they made the most economical use of the locale, finding different angles without having to travel too far.

So Naboo is found in Watford. It may not have the glamour or romance of Tunisia... but then Tunisia is by now a much-frequented part of the Star Wars universe, and to my knowledge I was the first to go to the trouble of looking for Naboo. To some of course it would appear to be 'just trees'... but for me it provides a nice link to the film... a chance to be in Star Wars.

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