AJIM
MOS EISLEY CANTINA

It was early on the second morning of out trip, while we were driving south from Houmt Souk to catch our ferry back to the mainland, that we stopped to find that fabled wretched hive of scum and villiany. After a good nights sleep our spirits had been re-vitalised and we were joking about the ordeal of the night before.

Ajim is a small town in the south-west corner of Jerba. Its chief reason for existance is as a market for the sponge divers and as a ferry terminal for the main means of getting to the mainland.

I'd been told roughly where it was, but directions like "10 minutes from the ferry" and "in a plaza on the edge of Ajim" were not clear enough. As we entered the northern end of Ajim something pulled me off the main road. I can't really describe it - it was more than a gut feeling. This guiding sense drew me down a side street where I parked. Looking out the car the dome of the Cantina was less than 50 ft away! Honestly, that's how it happened. Tucked away on a small plaza off a side street on the northern edge of town was the small side plaza that was used for all the scenes filmed on the streets of Mos Eisley.

According to Lionel Noetzlin's Geographic Star Wars Sites in Tunisia the family who lives in the Cantina building are the same people who were there when A New Hope's location work was done. The head of the family can recal when the production team built the facade that adorned the Cantina's front, and the Landspeeder as it rolled by on its wheels. All that they received in payment was 200 Tunisian Dinar (approximately US$190) and the pieces of the set. There is little of the set left because numerous collectors have picked the site dry, but for a price you can have a guided tour of the inside of the Cantina. (You'll need a French or Arabic speaker at hand to organise this.)

But because we wanted to catch the first ferry, and it was so early so very few people were about, we were't able to have a good look around. Neither did we get a chance to meet the man who owns the Mos Eisley Cantina. Which was a shame - but then I wouldn't have been able to say much because my French is diabolical and my Arabic non-existant. Never mind, eh?

Today the area surrounding the Cantina is not what it was in 1976. The round white homes of that time have been replaced by apartment buildings built in the style of the Moors and made of modern materials. The most obvious feature was the Cantina, situated next to a school.

As can be seen from the adjacent picture (click to enlarge) the front of the building was fake. A simple ply-wood frame coated in plaster was attached to the building to ..allow ...Luke ..and ...Ben ...to

enter the Cantina. At the time the location budget was limited, and it cost less to film the outside the building than to use its interior. The addition of the facade allowed Lucas to have his characters enter the Cantina without actually entering the house. Clever huh?

IMPERIAL CHECKPOINT, MOS EISLEY'S MAIN STREET
AND THE FALCON GETS AWAY

Just in front of the cantina, roughly where the new apartment block is, Luke parked his Landspeeder. The edge of the square, which has now been walled off was once the site of the crashed spaceship and you can see Cantina's front to the right of the main street shot.

The domed building on the right of the left-hand picture is the same as that in still of the Falcon making its get-away, and the left-hand side of the mainstreet still is where the Imperial checkpoint stopped Luke and Ben to inquire about the droids they were carrying and we saw the first use of the Force.

 

Standing where the dewback was tethered (avoiding any signs of any dewback doo-doo) we were given the view of the where the derelict spacecraft had rotted away (below left). At the end the road and behind the wall is the the dome next to which luke and Ben were stopped by Stormtroopers. The right-hand photo below is of the spot where the Imperial patrol stood. The original shot was of the alley on the right.

 
 

Unfortunately we were pushed for time and some of the locals were giving us ominous looks. We jumped in the car and made it to the ferry terminal to catch the first boat of the day. (Hopefully I will make a return trip to "Mos Eisley" and get plenty of shots to cover the missing scenes.)

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