Star Wars: Tunisia
The following pictures were taken by Jean-Christophe Quenot, w ho very recently had a chance to visit some of the locations in Tunisia where many of the Tatooine sequences in Star Wars (1977) and Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) were filmed.
Tunisia is a country in Northern Africa, lying along the Mediterranean Sea and covering part of the Sahara Desert. The journey begins in Tozeur, a small town in south-western Tunisia, 450 kilometers south-west of Tunis. Here is a link from an English language tourism site that tells a little bit about Tozeur: http://www.tourismtunisia.com/togo/tozeur/tozeur.html
For information about the Tatooine sequences filmed in Death Valley, California please go to the Star Wars: Fun With Action Figures in Death Valley page on this site.
The descriptions below are from email Jean-Christophe sent me, with minor edits. - Mark Weller, Webmaster, TheWellers.com, August 14, 2004.
Chapter I: La Grande Dune
From Tozeur, take the road going west to Nefta, 30 kms away from there. Cross Nefta, and follow the same road towards Algeria. About 6kms after Nefta, a sign on the right hand side of the road reads "Dunes de sable" (sand dunes). Follow the tracks, they will lead you to a small Berber-camp-cum-tourist-trap, more than 500m from the road (I prefered to go by foot, I didn't want my small rented Volkswagen Polo stuck in the sand).
After the camp, follow the same direction, perpendicularly to the road, and walk 1 more kilometer among the dunes. There, you will come more or less to C3PO's and R2D2's escape pod crash landing site as well as the Krayt dragon skeleton site (see pictues below). Don't expect to recognize much, the dunes have shifted over the past 28 years!
Maybe you read in the newspaper that Northern Africa has currently a big locust problem. When I visited this place (June 2nd, 2004 exactly), the dunes were already INFESTED with these critters.
Chapter II: The Lars Homestead
From la Grande Dune, come back on your tracks and return to the road. On the opposite side of the "Dunes de sable" sign, there is something that looks like a bus shelter. From this bus shelter, follow the tracks, leading away from the road. There is no risk to be
stuck in the sand here: the surface is flat and firm. Drive all the way to a stall selling gypsum flowers and turn right. In the distance, among the mirages, a familiar shape will appear. Another kilometer or so, and you will reach the igloo-shaped entrance of Lars Homestead.
This is not the original set of Episode IV. It was rebuilt in 2000 for the shooting of Episode II. Before that, the only thing left were the craters. You have to hurry if you want to see this new set : it is degrading very fast.
As you can see, the set consists in one "roof" (on the left of the "igloo"), the "igloo" itself, and 2 craters (on the right of the "igloo") [See picture 1 below].
No one stays in the "igloo" [picture 2 below]. Some 4WD tours make a quick stop at this spot, which explains why there is a small stall selling gypsum flowers.
Once you step inside [picture 3 below], you realize that the "igloo" is made of wood and fiberglass. Some fans/vendors have already torn away some parts of the structure.
The "roof" [picture 4 below] is the structure we saw burning as Luke finds his home destroyed in Episode IV. As you can see, only its "skeleton" remains: it's all wood and PVC.
There are two craters next to the "igloo" [picture 5 below ]. It's on the rim of the larger crater that Luke watches pensively the twin suns set as John William's "Force theme" booms. As we all know, the inside of the larger crater was shot 300kms away, in Matmata. The funny thing is that the size of the crater in Nefta doesn't match the size of the one in Matmata. The Nefta crater is too small.
I couldn't help re-creating the moment when Luke walks out of the house in disgust, after his argument with Uncle Owen. Well, I know... there's only ONE sun on my picture.
The sunset was disappointing on that day [June 2nd, 2004], but the moonrise was rewarding. It allowed me to take the coolest pictures on that site [pictures 6 and 7 below].
Now I understand why they never shot Lars Homestead on that angle [picture 8 below]: the town of Nefta is clearly visible in the distance!
Chapter III: Sidi Bouhlel
The destroyed sandcrawler site is located at the entrance of Sidi Bouhlel canyon (pictured below). In the film, you can even SEE the dirt road leading to the marabout (Muslim chapel) overlooking the canyon.
For the picture showing R2 in the canyon, look at the big boulder right in the middle: it's the same he uses as a hideout in the Tusken Raiders attack sequence later in the film (see the picture: R2's hideout). The film crew added more rocks beneath this boulder to
make it more like a hideout.
If you sit under this boulder (I was really scared it would tilt), this is the view you get if you look on your left (see the picture: Obi Wan's first appearance).
A few meters behind Obi Wan, you see a ridge overlooking a small gorge (with a small palm tree in it, if you look at the picture I took): it is the very spot from which Indiana Jones was threatening to destroy the ark with a bazooka in "Raiders of the
At last, you can see that the Star Wars crew used the same cliff for the shot where the Tusken Raider is about to shoot Luke's landspeeder, and the shot where the heroes have their first sight of Mos Eisley.
Last updated on Saturday, November 25, 2006
Click here for the Star Wars: Fun with Action Figures in Death Valley
Click here for the Star Wars On Location: Mohave and Tatooine
Some other links of interest:
The Star Wars Traveller - a website with info on Star Wars locations in Tunisia.