‘Star Wars Episode IV: ‘A New Hope’ Filming Locations

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.

    

*** 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
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Attack Of The Clones Filming Locations here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Revenge Of The Sith Filming Locations here

Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Watford)

On the 23rd December I was back in England and in the capital itself so I decided to go on the underground to Watford station (at the end of the Metropolitan line) with the idea of walking from there to Whippendell Wood. The roads were very icey though and difficult to walk on plus I lost my sense of direction so just took a taxi to the area which was used as the Naboo forest in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

 

Due to the recent heavy bout of snowfall that had pretty much brought the country to a standstill (yet again!) the place was more reminiscent of the remote ice-world of Hoth. Having entered the wood through the Grove Mill Lane Car Park I came to the sign shown in the picture above on the right. From here there are three paths and I took the one on the right for about two minutes whereby I came to the first shot which is recognisable by a huge drop and an interesting mark on one of the trees which is where Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi save Jar Jar Binks who in return agrees to guide them to Otoh Gunga.

 

To get there they travel underwater which involved the use of CGI to add water to a wood which has no swamps or lakes. This part of the wood was nearby but it was like trying to find a needle in the proverbial haystack so I gave up and settled on some easier to find locations. Going back through the car park and over the country lane I then arrived at what looked like a golf course where a few scenes were filmed and these were far easier to locate. In fact they were all in one place but just shot from slightly different angles. This is where Amidala and the rebels make plans to attack the city of Theed (the capital of Naboo) towards the end of the film.

      

I then headed back to the station on foot this time thanks to some directions by locals. It took about 40 minutes in the snow. I’d been meaning to do these locations for a couple of years and was fairly satisfied with my mornings work but maybe I will return one day when I am next back in England. Though the snow added a bit of festive beauty to the area I would still like to see it in its more normal setting but I can’t say its gonna be too much of a priority.

*** 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 – 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

Star Wars Traveller: Naboo (a.k.a. Como)

You may think that an afternoon of seeking out Casino Royale‘ and Star Wars Episode II film scenes at the Villa del Balbianello would be enough for one day. Not for me though because while I was walking back to my hotel I came across the Parco Civico di Tremezzo which featured in a cut scene from ‘Attack of the Clones‘ and was where Anakin and Padmé left 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 Lake retreat a.k.a. the Villa del Balbianello. We saw that at the very start of Euro Trip 2010 Pt VI but it appears that their clothes have changed there whereas they are the same on arrival in Tatooine as they are in the first photo below.
I took some pictures of the steps and that rectangular sign at the top of them as well as the male toilets 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 for her which was just a stones throw away from the steps seen in the screenshot. I woke up early the following morning and in order to recreate this screenshot I had to get into the water with my camera 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!!      
Later that morning I set out on foot following the excellent directions from Mark Dermul’s third Star Wars filming locations book to find the picknic meadow where Anakin and Padmé get closer. Lots of overgrown grass in the foreground of some amazing, huge waterfalls in the film but in reality it was just a private field which could be anywhere in the world to be honest! The falls 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 aforementioned John Knoll book. By that I mean the shabby building in one of my photo’s. There had been a heavy downpour the night before so with the grass still wet I could only crouch down rather than immitate their sitting pose.
   
A different field was used nearby for the scene where Anakin was playing around on the back of the Shaak until he fell off and played dead in the name of luring Padmé into his arms whereby the viewer assumes they kiss not that we see that. The rodeo bit was obviously done against a blue screen but the rolling around was done in this very field which again really could be any grassy area.
 
A restaurant (Fagurida) frequented by Sir Alec Guiness (Obi Wan Kenobi) in the 1960’s and a house used as Hayden Christensen’s and Natalie Portman’s dressing room rounded off my Star Wars adventure.
 
 *** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Villa del Balbianello) here
 *** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Seville) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Caserta) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Tozeur) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Matmata) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. The Ksours) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Djerba) here

Star Wars Traveller: Naboo (a.k.a. Villa del Balbianello)

Ask almost anybody what their 6th favourite Star Wars film is and chances are that they will say ‘Episode II: Attack of the Clones‘. To be honest, I wasn’t overly impressed with episodes I and II but my opinion changed with the former after visiting the filming locations in Tunisia last year. Visiting the Plaza de Espana in Seville at the start of the year heightened my interest in episode II and that was extended even further in anticipation of seeing the following at the Villa del Balbianello in Como.
Unlike the ‘Casino Royale’ shots (done at the same place) Star Wars episode II included a bit of CGI here and there. The first such example is when we see the villa from the lake albeit with 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 Skywalker and Padmé Amidala arrive at the lake retreat on the latter’s home planet of Naboo. They arrive by boat but this 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 (not on camera) we then see the pair of them walk along a terrace with a pond in the foreground and a bush in the background.
   
They walk over to the balcony overlooking the lake. Notice the strange shape trunk on the right of each photo.
   
This balcony is where the two heroes kiss for the first time although Padmé later pulls away as their love is forbidden. Sadly my girlfriend wasn’t with me on this trip to re-create such a scene which I would have insisted upon no doubt to her disproval. By that I mean the geekiness of it rather than the kiss!
We return to this part of the villa for the film’s climax as Anakin and Padmé get married in secret with R2D2 and C3PO the only ones in attendance. The former managed to turn up for my appearance again as he did in Tunisia and Spain. Sadly the beautiful red flowers in the movie are not so distinct now.
  
 
The loggia which appeared in ‘Casino Royale’ was used a little differently in ‘Attack of the Clones‘. 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.
 
“Jedi don’t have nightmares” is what Anakin tells Padmé 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. The sunlight made this one hard to re-create but typically I didn’t think about closing the door until later that evening.
 
The following shot was done using a platform and fake window and window sill but in reality it is just the garden out the back of the ticket office and bookshop. This was cut from the movie but does appear in the deleted scenes chapter on the DVD. It see’s Anakin being questioned in the garden by Padmé’s father about his intentions.
 
Another scene to end upon the cutting room floor was Padme’s bedroom (no, not a sex scene!) and this started with a view of the villa shot from below in the garden although as you can see CGI magic makes the two look quite different.
 
The deleted bedroom scene (seen on the dvd) 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.
 
 The Villa del Balbianello as seen in ‘Casino Royale’ can be seen here.
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Seville) here.
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Caserta) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Tozeur) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Matmata) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. The Ksours) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Djerba) here

Star Wars Traveller: Naboo (a.k.a. Seville)

A lot of my time in Seville was spent at Plaza de Espana which is a semi-circular open place featuring ceramic tile buildings, a fountain, bridges and a canal. This place was my first port of call for the main reason that it was used for about 30 seconds in ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones’ when Anakin and Padme followed by R2D2 arrive on Naboo and walk to the Queen’s palace. It was also used in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and played the part of ‘Cairo’ officers’ club. CGI was used in the Star Wars film to add domes, modify buildings, alter towers and mirror the whole place to create an oval.
First impressions as I entered the site were of disappointment that parts of it were like a building site which often seems to be the case when visiting tourist hotspots. They are seemingly always under construction! Thankfully, that was only near the entrance and although the canal was dirty it wasn’t really noticeable as I wandered round the place. Although it was a bit run-down and decrepit in parts it really was a beautiful place and I am quite surprised that it features so little in the guidebooks on Seville. There were basically only three parts of the plaza used by the Star Wars film crew (only two made the final edit – all three can be seen in the first couple of minutes of this video) and they included the fountain, one of the bridges and the undercover rim of the plaza. Having used my R2D2 figure in Tunisia I couldn’t resist the idea of using it in a few photo’s at the Plaza. What luck that I just happened to have it in my bag!!
You can see all my Seville photo’s here.
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Caserta) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Tozeur) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Matmata) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. The Ksours) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Djerba) 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.