‘Star Wars Episode II: ‘Attack of the Clones’ Filming Locations

With the 10th Anniversary of ‘Attack of the Clones‘ coming up on May 16th (not to mention that today is unofficially Star Wars Day!) and hot on the heels of March’s ‘Phantom Menace‘ filming locations compilation comes the Italian, Spanish and Tunisian scenes from the second of the prequel films. I was fairly underwhelmed when I first saw it a decade ago but as the years have rolled by and with the saga more complete I have been able to watch and enjoy it a whole lot more and this of course was heightened by my visits to the various locations used.

DVD chapter 15 ‘Return to Naboo’ on 38 mins sees Anakin and Padmé along with Artoo at the Plaza de Espana in Seville (below) for a fairly short scene which was cut down in the edit as the extended arrival on Naboo deleted scene appears on the dvd.

   

Caserta Palace (below left) in Southern Italy makes a brief return for this movie after 39 mins and the rest of the Naboo scenes which follow were all shot in Como in the north of the country. We first see the splendid Villa del Balbianello from the lake (below right) on 44 mins albeit with CGI domes added to the roof. Sadly I didn’t get to take a photo of the place from quite the same angle as I never took a boat to that part of the lake.

   

Anakin and Padmé arrive by boat at the lake retreat (below) on the latter’s home planet of Naboo which was a different place to where I arrived and this scene could not be perfectly re-created as it was shot from the stone wall which isn’t accessible to the public. I had to take my pictures of the boat dock and steps leading down to it from different angles.

   

After climbing the steps (off camera) we then see the pair of them walk along a terrace with a pond in the foreground (below left) and a bush (below right) in the background.

  

They walk over to the balcony overlooking the lake. Notice the strange shape trunk on the right of the photo below left. This balcony is where the two heroes kiss for the first time (below right) although Padmé later pulls away as their love is forbidden.

  

The picknic meadow where Anakin and Padmé get closer (47-50 mins into the film) was filmed in a couple of private fields in Como which could be anywhere in the world to be fair! The waterfalls and the shaaks (indigenous Naboo animals) were added by CGI of course and this field can only really be recognised thanks to some behind the scenes pictures in the ‘Star Wars 365 Days’ book by John Knoll. By that I mean the shabby building in the lower left photo.

       

The loggia (below left) at Villa del Balbianello, which also appeared in ‘Casino Royale’, features on 59 mins though only the area under the arches is seen beginning with Anakin in a Jedi trance looking out across the lake early in the morning following his nightmare.

   

The sunlight made the photo above right hard to re-create but typically I didn’t think about closing the door until later that same evening. “Jedi don’t have nightmares” is what Anakin tells Padmé at the loggia but she says that she heard him and then he explains that he saw his mother in pain in his dreams and that he must return to Tatooine to try and save her.

So its back to Tunisia on 64 mins and the Mos Espa set near Tozeur is used again as Anakin is re-united with Watto at the workshop (below left) where he was a former slave.

         

The Lars Homestead (above) is in Matmata (south east Tunisia) and returns to our screens for the first time since 1977 with Anakin and Padmé meeting Lars Clieg in the courtyard as they search for Anakin’s mother Shmi Skywalker. They then sit around the famous table in the dining room (below left) where Luke had some blue milk with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in the original Star Wars movie. The exterior of the Lars Homestead (below right) is actually many many kilometres away in the middle of nowhere in Chott el Djerid, Nefta. It can be seen on 71, 74 and 83 mins.

   

Attack of the Clones‘ draws to a close on 124 mins with the secret wedding of Anakin and Padmé at the Naboo lake retreat known as Villa del Balbianello in Como. The flowers seen on screen (below left) were far brighter and in much better condition than when I was there. Droids C3P0 and R2D2 were in attendance for the wedding (below right) whereas I only had R2D2 with me!

   

Deleted Scenes: Firstly, we will look at deleted scene #4 from the dvd which was an extended arrival on Naboo where we see a bit more of the Plaza de Espana below.

   

Parco Civico di Tremezzo in Como is where Anakin and Padmé leaving Naboo for Tatooine following the former’s nightmare about his mother being in pain back on his home planet. That’s one train of thought anyway due to the clothes they are wearing but the very chunky ‘Star Wars 365 Days’ book by John Knoll suggests that their spaceship landed near here and then they got into a gondola and sped across the lake to the Villa del Balbianello. It appears that their clothes have changed there whereas they are the same on arrival in Tatooine as they are in the photo above left. I had to get into the water with my camera early morning to recreate the shot (above right) which wasn’t easy as it was deep and swimming out for 10 metres or so while holding a camera up in the air out of the water is blo*dy difficult!! All that effort for a cut scene which didn’t even make it on to the deleted scenes chapter of the DVD!!

 

Above left is how the park looks at the top of the steps and the rectangular sign seen in the screenshot as well as the male toilets (below left) where Hayden Christensen (Anakin) got changed into his brown Jedi robe without complaint. Natalie Portman (Padmé) is a much bigger star and supposedly demanded something better so the crew cleared out a little domed building (below right) nearby.

 

Deleted scene #5 is of Padmé‘s parents house and after arriving at the place and having dinner we see Padmé‘ talking to her mum and sister whilst supposedly looking out of the kitchen window into the garden where Anakin is being questioned by Padmé‘s father about his intentions. This shot was done using a platform, fake window and window sill and in reality is just the garden out the back of the ticket office and bookshop at Villa del Balbianello in Como, Italy.

   

Another scene to end upon the cutting room floor (deleted scene #6) starts with a view of the villa shot from below in the garden (above right) although as you can see CGI magic makes the two look quite different. The deleted bedroom scene (no, not a sex scene!) was shot in one of the loggia rooms (below) although they basically stripped it of its period furniture and imported a rug, bed and so on to make it more Naboo-like.

 

*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Como, Italy) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Villa del Balbianello, Italy) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Seville, Spain) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Caserta, Italy) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Watford, England) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Tozeur, Tunisia) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Matmata, Tunisia) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. The Ksours, Tunisia) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Djerba, Tunisia) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Death Valley, USA) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – The Phantom Menace Filming Locations here
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Tangiers Filming Locations: The Bourne Ultimatum & The Living Daylights

I had been on my way to Algeciras in Southern Spain on 2nd January before I met an Australian couple who said that I could get the ferry from Tarifa instead and it proved to be a good decision as it saved me a lot of time. On arrival in Tangiers I set off on foot to get my bearings and completely lost my way in search of an ATM. I finally found one which didn’t accept my card and then I was horrified when the next one swallowed my card and if my other card hadn’t worked I would have been well and truly up sh*t creek without a paddle. Thankfully, I got my card back after some locals had hassled a guard into helping us all get our cards back on a Saturday afternoon when the banks were closed.
After that I found my way in the North African city and booked my bus ticket for 8pm that night. With five hours to kill I set about trying to find the old Forbes Museum on the outskirts of the city which featured in Timothy Dalton’s first outing as James Bond in the 1987 film ‘The Living Daylights’. Unable to follow the guide book map I walked fairly aimlessly and took a few photos of buildings which I thought could have been the militaristic villa of arms dealer Brad Whitaker from the movie and subsequent research on my return proved that I had got lucky in capturing the shot that I wanted.
I couldn’t get a place in a nearby cafe so wandered back to the medina area to have a mint tea while sat outside Gran Cafe de Paris which also featured on the big screen by way of ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ which was the third part of the trilogy starring Matt Damon. It was this film which really brought Tangiers to my attention following perhaps one of films most exciting chase sequences through the medina and across the rooftops. Not so surprising then that my half day in this city was not so thrilling which was a bit disappointing as guidebooks and friends had said that people either love it or hate it. I thought it was OK but a little boring to be honest.
You can see all my Morocco photo’s here.

Tunisia Filming Locations

Another 5am start for my final full day in Tunisia. I was at the louage station by 5.45am waiting for the shared taxi to fill-up. Unfortunately I had to wait 90minutes for it to be full which is not that bad I guess but when yoh haven’t got so much time on your side its not so great. I was still in El Jem by 8am though and visited the amphitheatre there which was really nice and fairly empty when I got there though that didn’t last long as a load of German tour buses soon arrived thereafter.
A louage back to Sousse followed by a fairly instant louage down to Monastir followed. I visited the Ribat in Monastir which featured in Monty Python’s Life Of Brian and the (fairly) unique thing about this place is that its right on the beach with the tower offering great views of the beach which I went to after for a quick swim. The sea was so refreshing given the temperature and for me, it was interesting to see Muslims in such a non-religious situation and believe it or not quite a relief to be free of the Star Wars sites which had dominated the trip up until then. Indeed, it would be quite nice to return to the country one day for a ‘normal’ holiday.
Once back in Sousse I later took another louage back to the capital city Tunis which I hadn’t spent any time in on my arrival into the country. The reason for the early starts to all of these days is because the louage situation can get quiet later in the afternoons so one doesn’t want to be waiting around for ages for the car to reach capacity. Having often been the only guest at my hotels in the south I hadn’t really anticipated the budget hotels being full but the first three I tried were. Eventually I ended up at the ironically named Hotel de la Tranquillite which was under three pounds for the night and was a basic prison cell sweatbox. Still, it did its job providing somewhere for me to lie down at the end of the day and that was basically the end of my first trip to the African continent and it was quite an eye-opener for me in terms of not being able to use hardly any English for the first time in my life. My French skills are fairly basic so I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for someone who doesn’t speak any French at all. I may have ticked most boxes while I was there due to some excessive travelling but there was just that something lacking which was not having much in the way of conversation, sharing experiences and so on with other travellers.
I had a quick look around Tunis but was too late to visit any of the major attractions in the area but what I did see was the Grand Hotel du Lac ad its strange shape which was maybe an inspiration (or inspired by) for the sandcrawlers in Star Wars.
You can see my Tunisia photo’s here. 

Star Wars Traveller: Tatooine (a.k.a. Djerba)

I just missed a louage to the island of Djerba at 5.30am and then had to wait over an hour for the following one to become full. The cost of the taxi included the ferry crossing and culminated at the north of the island from where I then hired a taxi driver to take me round the places I wanted to visit. This island is a very popular destination for tourists who frequent the eastern side of the island and its beautiful beaches so my driver must have thought I was a right oddity for wanting to see three old run-down buildings on the west side in Ajim.
First stop was the marabout of Sidi Jemour which played Anchorhead in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and was also used as the outskirts of Mos Eisley. Personally, I wasn’t that bothered about this place but as I was in the vicinity I thought I may as well see it.
Further down the coast and close to the ferry port was Ben Kenobi’s hermitage; a lone derelict building which appeared on screen for about one second with Luke Skywalker‘s landspeeder outside it. The film portrays it as being in the middle of the desert by using a low camera angle but it is fact right next to the sea. This was very geeky but very exciting although there was nothing whatsoever inside for that was no doubt filmed in the studio.
 
My final port of call on the Star Wars trail was the Mos Eisley Cantina bar where Luke and Ben were introduced to Han Solo before escaping in the Millennium Falcon; filmed on a nearby sidestreet which I found thanks to the map in Mark Dermul’s ‘Trip to Tatooine’ book. Without such a map it would have been fairly impossible to find the Cantina, the blast-off alley and the stormtrooper checkpoint. They were still difficult enough to find even with the map! Of course its been over 30 years since the movie was filmed so needless to say that the buildings are not in good condition but it was nice to finish my Star Wars journey at such a pivotal place in the whole saga.
 
You can see my Tunisia photo’s here.
You can see my Tunisia Star Wars Collection photo’s here.

Star Wars Traveller: Tatooine (a.k.a. The Ksours)

I left the Sidi Driss Hotel in Matmata and caught (by luck) an over-packed 7.30am bus to Gabes where I checked into a hotel and then went straight out again to the louage station to get down to Tataouine, the name that inspired the name of planet Tatooine in the Star Wars saga. While waiting for the taxi to fill-up with people Xavier came along and once we’d got to Tatouine we were prepared to go our separate ways. Before this I asked him if he could just help me out with the arrangements and invitable haggling with a taxi driver for what I wanted to do which somehow eventually lead to us both taking a taxi to his hotel, Ksar Ouled SoltaneKsar Hadeda before dropping me off in Medinine and then taking him back to Tataouine. I was more than happy with this deal as it was reasonably cheap and meant I would have a travel companion for a bit in a country where its fair to say I hadn’t had too much conversation due to my French not stretching so far!
We had been expecting some sign of civilisation before we reached our first sightseeing spot but that never happened as one moment we were driving through the middle of nowhere and then the next we stopped and walked into the beautifully coloured Ksar Ouled Soltane (a Ksar is basically a fortified granary whatever that really means – a place to store grain?) which was great. No-one there (apart from a few artists selling their paintings of which I bought one), no surrounding fence, no entry charge and so we were free to climb all over the building to view the surrounding area which was nice as the Ksar is on the top of a hill.
Ksar Hadeda was next and we were there much sooner than I had anticated. This was similar to the previous one but not quite as aesthetically pleasing as it had fallen into disrepair in places. It was the location of Shmi Skywalker’s home in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace for the scene where she told Qui-Gon Jinn that her son Anakin didn’t have a father. This place is now part hotel, part Ksar and part building site and so made it difficult to locate the exact filming shots.
The final location was Ksar Medenine where I said a bientot to Xavier and then went to the alley on the back of the Ksar which was also used as the home of Anakin and Shmi Skywalker. The scene where Anakin had to say bye to his mum was filmed here with sand added to the street to make it look more desert-y so inevitably it looks a little different now with no set dressing remaining and it looked like people actually lived there.
You can see my Tunisia photo’s here.
You can see my Tunisia Star Wars Collection photo’s here.

Star Wars Traveller: Tatooine (a.k.a. Matmata)

After the unreliability of the buses on my birthday I thought it safer to move around by louage from then on. These are shared taxi’s looking like vans which go long distances and cost just about the same as the bus and are quicker too. I was fortunate to be the last one to want a louage from Tozeur on the west coast to Gabes on the east coast which meant that we left instantly at 7am. Two more shorter distant louages took me to Matmata where it was my privilege to check into the Hotel Sidi Driss which doubled up as the Lars Homestead in Star Wars or Luke Skywalker’s home to put it more simply.
You don’t need to be a Star Wars fan to be intrigued by this type of underground “troglodyte” home as is proved by the many many buses which make a stop at this place on their way up and down the country. I was one of only two guests to be staying in the hotel that night as it is kind of dirty with poor service but small matters like that were never going to deter me! Throughout the day I spent many a moment lining up photo shots inbetween all the tourists popping by.
The town is a very small place with less than a 1000 inhabitants and I walked round the place taking in the Berber museum (basically just a simple underground home similar to the one I was staying at) and the Matmata Hollywood-type sign. I went to the nearby hotel where Xavier (a French guy who I met en-route to Matmata) was staying to have a swim in their pool and I later witnessed a wedding which was very interesting. Lots of clapping and noise as a crowd of people paraded through the streets with the bride kept undercover on a camel as is tradition for these events which can last for up to seven days! I even got a free cous-cous (Tunisia’s national dish) meal later that night at one of the towns two restaurants which was really filling. My night was later ruined however at Xavier’s hotel when I started to suffer absolute chronic toothache while drinking which was just unbearable. A nose-bleed at 3.30am woke me up the following morning which all added up to it not being the most pleasant of nights but it was all worth it to me.
You can see my Tunisia photo’s here.
You can see my Tunisia Star Wars Collection photo’s here.

Star Wars Traveller: Tatooine (a.k.a. Tozeur)

It may surprise many that to visit some of the Star Wars filming locations in Tunisia is actually very difficult. There are no Star Wars package tours and very very few Tunisians have even heard of, let alone seen the sci-fi saga. With that in mind, getting things started was a bit of a headache but luckily I’d done plenty of research. Having walked the streets of Tozeur in the early hours I’d found nothing that could help me such as a tour operator. In fact the whole town seemed to be closed! Eventually I returned to the scene of my previous nights wild(?) birthday celebration extravaganza and enquired at reception about hiring a private 4WD driver as the receptionist spoke a bit of English as my bad French couldn’t help me express what I wanted which was, at times, a problem in a country where very few people spoke any English. I had to pay what was expensive by local standards but reasonable by UK ones and well-worth it to me.
My driver Amar first took me to Sidi Bouhlel which is known (outside of Tunisia) as Star Wars canyon and was used in ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope’ as well as in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. An awesome sight and when I went down into the canyon the scenery (Artoo’s hideout and Jawa rock) was so instantly recognisable. A great start to the tour and not a sole in sight as I took my photos.
After that, we saw wild camels and with it a baking 45 degrees celsius outside we then saw Ong Jemal (neck camel) or Camelhead rock which was in ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ but is maybe more famous for its use in ‘The English Patient’ which I had seen as my preparation for this trip.
A short ride away from this was the Yardangs (protruding rocks resembling shark fins) which was the duel site between Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul and then in the middle of nowhere was the Mos Espa set from ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’. Incredible to think that there is no entrance charge, no fenced off area, no nothing. Truly amazing and this place was a highlight of my whole trip. The set itself is made of wooden moisture vaporators and multi-domed buildings and archways made of plaster with nothing inside apart from sleeping touts waiting for the next tourist bus as this place is on the tourist circuit though its only billed as ‘The Star Wars’. I guess I must have arrived in between buses as unbelievably I was alone again and able to wander at ease locating (this is where it gets geeky!) Watto’s junk shop, Qui-Gonn’s Alley, Sebulba‘s café and Jira’s fruitstall.
After those three highs I was then looking forward to seeing the igloo which played host to the Skywalker’s home exterior which was one of the sites I was really excited about seeing. However, I was dealt a crushing blow when I couldn’t find the tiny igloo and communication problems with the driver made it difficult for me to really guide him to where I wanted and he gave up and after showing a photo of the place in my book to a local I couldn’t believe their ignorance in just saying it wasn’t in the area but what can you expect when a foreigner tries to tell you that something is in your neck of the woods that you’ve never heard of. A truly frustrating experience and I really regret not stopping the driver at the 26km marker (as directed in ‘Trip to Tatooine’ by Mark Dermul which I was following) and looking for it on foot rather than driving a bit further on to a turning which had a bit of a road to follow but from where we just couldn’t locate it.
Back in Tozeur I was still pretty deflated about the sour end to the trip but managed to cheer myself up temporarily by sampling some camel steak which was available at a restaurant run by two nice chatty guys which was a relief given that yet again I was on my own. I wandered round through the palmeraie area (a huge oasis) and around the town looking at the achitecture and brickwork which the area is famed for although its also a bit of a building site in many places. I returned to the hotel de l’Oasis at night for a couple of beers with an Italian guy I met earlier that morning which was nice given the lack of speaking so far on the trip.
You can see my Tunisia photo’s here.
You can see my Tunisia Star Wars collection photo’s here.