Following in the footsteps of my ‘Phantom Menace‘, ‘Attack of the Clones‘ and ‘Revenge of the Sith‘ (the latter can only be seen on Tokyo Fox’s sister site ‘Beyond The Movies‘) compilations comes the shooting locations of the original Star Wars movie which after its 1977 release was retitled ‘Episode IV: A New Hope‘. For this film the crew went on location to Guatemala and Tunisia with pick-up shots later done at Death Valley in California.
The first spaceship to be seen is the Rebel Blockade Runner, a.k.a. the Tantive IV and on 3 mins we are inside the ship with the guards awaiting the arrival of Darth Vader not that they knew he would be arriving. There is a set piece of this at the London Film Museum on Southbank next to the London Eye and it costs £7 per photo (two for £10) on top of the entrance fee. Richard Richard and I had no qualms about spending that money on the photos below.
C3P0 is seen in the Tunisian desert on 10 mins and that bit was filmed just behind the Mos Espa set in Nefta but when we see Artoo’s dunes seconds later its actually Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley, California making its debut.
A few more location switches occur as the story develops. Artoo’s Arroyo on 11 mins is Artists Palette which is one of the more beautiful spots in Death Valley. A minute later its back to Tunisia where the Jawa’s carry Artoo to this specific rock which is at Sidi Bouhlel more commonly known as Star Wars canyon to fans but certainly not to locals!
15 mins in and its Desolation Canyon in Death Valley where the sand crawler appears and this can only be matched up using the mountains in the background and the directions given on this article. A 1.6 yard-long radio-controlled model was used for the wide shots and whilst I did have droid figures with me I never gave a thought to bring my sandcrawler toy which would have been a good idea. Oh well! Furthermore I later noticed a mark on the camera lens which is now in a lot of my photos such as the one lower left which is a match-up of the screenshot above it.
Luke gets called by Aunt Beru on 17 mins as we see the Lars Homestead exterior for the first time which is in Chott el Djerid near Nefta but the next shots of him looking down into the underground home (below) were shot 300km away in Matmata.
However, one of the first time we were supposed to see Luke Skywalker were of him watching the ongoing battle in orbit between the Star Destroyer and Princess Leia’s blockade runner. He then takes his land speeder to Tosche station to tell his friends about it but by the time they go outside to look at it it’s all over and they think Luke was just making it all up. This scene was shot in the north-west of Djerba in Tunisia and ended up on the cutting room floor but appears in deleted scenes on the blu-ray.
One of the most famous scenes shot at Hotel Sidi Driss (a.k.a. The Lars Homestead) in Matmata is the dining room scene on 23 mins (below left) where Luke drinks blue milk and chats to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Its a new day on 27 mins as Uncle Owen walks through the courtyard of the hotel which was used in ‘Episode II: Attack of the Clones’ 25 years later.
Desolation Canyon in Death Valley appears again (above right) on 28 mins and its this place where the Bantha (a large native Tatooine animal with a long furry tail) filming took place which was basically just an African elephant in a costume! As the name implies this place was completely desolate and yes I did strip off for a photo which can be seenhere but the one on this page is a far more modest one.
Obi-wans house only appears on the original cut of the movie (below left) and not the special editions which I’ve been using the time codes of. It appears on 32 mins for a brief second. It can be easily found on the west coast of Djerba in Tunisia. George Lucas shot it at a low angle to make it look like it was in the middle of nowhere so its quite a surprise to find it next to the sea.
On 42 mins we see Ben Kenobi showing Mos Eisley. The lookout is at Sidi Bouhlel in Tozeur but the view we see is in Death Valley of Dante’s Peak which, unlike most Star Wars locations, is actually a major sightseeing attraction by its own right. It’s where Ben famously introduces Luke Skywalker to Mos Eisley spaceport by telling him ”You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy“. The screenshot is below rightwith my shot beneath it and the views were naturally way more impressive than what was described by Ben Kenobi.
Droids aren’t allowed in the Cantina bar so on 47 mins we see R2D2 and C3P0 waiting outside it moments after Obi-Wan cut someones arm off and met Chewbacca. On 52 mins C3P0 is seen at the door of the cantina but in reality there never was a door for the building was given a fake entry during filming in 1976.
Aboard the Millennium Falcon we see the chess table on 55 mins (and again on 93 mins) as they escape with new pilot Han solo from the stormtroopers. Of course my photo on the Millennium Falcon is a set prop specially constructed for photo opportunities at the Star Wars Celebration Japan event in 2008. The blast off alley can be found a few streets away from the Cantina in Ajim on the island of Djerba in Tunisia.
Its studio-set space scenes all the way from thereon until 105 mins when Tikal in Guatemala is shown a few times but as I haven’t been there (yet!) I will include my friend Chris’s photos from that place until I have my own ones to replace them. He was in Tikal a couple of years ago but had no idea that this played any part in the Star Wars saga.