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Sidi Jemour Mosque

OVERVIEW

Site: Sidi Jemour Mosque complex

GPS: 33.831420, 10.748173

Location: Groa outskirts, Médenine Governorate, Djerba island, Tunisia

Description:
Ibadi coastal defense complex (16th century CE)
Decommissioned from at least 1975 up to 2014

Star Wars film:
Episode IV — A New Hope (1977)

Set construction start: 3 April 1976

Production: 4 April 1976

Star Wars locations | Film sets:
Anchorhead | main road
Anchorhead | Tosche Station (exterior)
Great Mesra Plateau | Mos Eisley perimeter

Leads on set:
Mark Hamill / Luke Skywalker
Garrick Hagon / Biggs Darklighter
Kathleen “Koo” Stark / Camie (Legends: Camie Marstrap Loneozner)
Anthony Forrest / The Fixer (Legends: Laze “Fixer” Loneozner)
Jack Purvis / robot
Kenny Baker / Artoo Detoo (R2-D2) — Note: Listed on the call sheet, but not featured in any footage

Scenes:
8 [Luke in landspeeder almost runs down a woman] <deleted> — Filmed: 4 April 1976
10 [Biggs and Luke look up into space] <deleted> — Filmed: 4 April 1976
16 [Biggs reveals to Luke that he’s going to join the rebellion] <deleted> — Filmed: 4 April 1976
Final cut: 0
Deleted: 3

Sequence:
Transition to Mos Eisley {plate} — Filmed: 4 April 1976
Final cut: 1
Deleted: 0

Record: Crews produced a total of 4 minutes and 11 seconds of screen time on the single day of filming at this site, more than any other Episode IV shoot day.

Omitted: None of the Tosche Station footage filmed at Sidi Jemour Mosque made the final cut.

Framed setting: Low camera angles predominantly facing north/east were used to create the inland Tosche Station visual, effectively hiding views of the Mediterranean (Gulf of Gabès) coastline surrounding the mosque.

Perimeter: Despite the introduction of CGI architecture in the Episode IV Special Edition (1997) that significantly altered the original footage used for the Mos Eisley perimeter transition sequence, this content remains the only imagery filmed at the mosque visible in the film.

Wrap: Final film site/production date for 1st unit Episode IV principal photography in Tunisia.

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Ksar Ommarsia

OVERVIEW

Site: Ksar Ommarsia

GPS: 33.347444, 10.492121

Location: Médenine city center (Médenine Governorate) / Southeast Tunisia

Description: Amazigh fortified granary (early 19th century CE)

Star Wars film:
Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999)

Set construction start: Early July 1997

Production: 9 August 1997

Star Wars location | Film sets:
Mos Espa | Anakin Skywalker’s hovel (exterior)
Mos Espa | slave quarters street

Leads on set:
Liam Neeson / Qui-Gon Jinn
Jake Lloyd / Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman / Padmé Amidala Naberrie
Pernilla August / Shmi Skywalker
Dhruv Chanchani / Kitster (Legends: Kitster Chanchani Banai)
Warwick Davis / Wald

Scenes:
70 [They seek shelter from the sandstorm] — Filmed: 9 August 1997
104 [Anakin fights with Greedo] <deleted> — Filmed: 9 August 1997
107 [Anakin leaves Shmi and does not look back] — Filmed: 9 August 1997
Final cut: 2
Deleted: 1

Composited background ksar footage: 4 scenes
82 [The pod rises, the engines ignite] — Scene film site: Eriguet dunes | yardang field | Mos Espa slave quarters backyards set
88 [Probe droid searches] — Scene film site: Eriguet dunes | Mos Espa marketplace set
104 [Anakin fights with Greedo] <deleted> — Scene film site: Ksar Ommarsia
107 [Anakin leaves Shmi and does not look back] — Scene film site: Ksar Ommarsia

Ksour hub: Once home to the largest concentration of ksar architecture in Tunisia with approximately 25 ksour, Ksar Ommarsia and two adjacent ksour (Ksar Ouled Brahim and Ksar Lobbeira) are the only three remaining fortified granaries in the Médenine city center.

Pedestrian zone: The narrow ksar courtyard, a main walkway through the city center, is populated with roughly 120 ghorfas stacked up to three stories high and over 40 curvilinear concrete stairs leading to the upper-level storage chambers.

Historic: First-ever Star Wars franchise filming at a Tunisian ksar.

Decor: Crew covered the ksar courtyard stone floor with sand to depict the desert Tatooine climate, complementing the stand-alone moisture vaporator and extensive ghorfa set dressings removed after filming.

Background architecture: Post-production efforts utilized segmented plate content of three Ksar Ommarsia walls to create Mos Espa cityscape architecture in four of the five Episode I scenes containing composited background ksar footage.

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Ksar Hadada

OVERVIEW

Site: Ksar Hadada (northwest corner area)

GPS: 33.100502, 10.313744

Location: Ksar Hadada village center (Tataouine Governorate) / Southeast Tunisia

Description: Amazigh fortified granary village (mid-19th century CE)

Repurposed: Hotel Ksar Hadada

Star Wars film:
Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999)

Set construction start: Early July 1997

Production: 10 August 1997

Star Wars location | Film sets:
Mos Espa | slave quarters backyards
Mos Espa | slave quarters street

Leads on set:
Liam Neeson / Qui-Gon Jinn
Natalie Portman / Padmé Amidala Naberrie
Pernilla August / Shmi Skywalker

Scenes:
80 [“There’s something about this boy”] — Filmed: 10 August 1997
81 [Qui-Gon and Shmi on porch discuss Anakin] — Filmed: 10 August 1997
A82 [Shmi standing alone on porch] — Filmed: 10 August 1997
85 [Padmé exits hovel at sunrise] <deleted> — Filmed: 10 August 1997
Final cut: 3
Deleted: 1

Composited background ksar footage: 1 scene 
85 [Padmé exits hovel at sunrise] <deleted> — Scene film site: Ksar Hadada

Recce: Only prequels film site in Tunisia to be initially scouted but not utilized for Episode IV. The mid-November 1975 recce explored the then-newly restored northwest corner of the site, presumably as a potential location for unrealized Mos Eisley slums street sequences.

Tataouine: Only Star Wars film site located in the Tunisian region of Tataouine, the orthographic inspiration for renaming the desert planet of Utapau to Tatooine in the Episode IV fourth draft (1 January 1976).

Template: Film site north courtyard—not used for filming—matched with other northwest corner elements replicated to construct the Mos Espa slave quarters backyards set (Mos Espa small set) in the Eriguet dunes north of Nefta (Tozeur Governorate).

Café: Northeast corner of Café Salon de Thé (local business) visible in film footage.

Background architecture: Post-production efforts utilized segmented plate content of the Ksar Hadada northwest corner porch to create Mos Espa cityscape architecture in one of the five Episode I scenes containing composited background ksar footage.

Wrap: Final film site/production date for 1st unit Episode I principal photography in Tunisia.

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Hotel Sidi Idriss

OVERVIEW

Site: Hotel Sidi Idriss (pit 2)

GPS: 33.542564, 9.967038

Location: Matmata al-Qadimal (Gabès Governorate) / Southeast Tunisia

Description: Subterranean dwelling (ca. late 17th century CE)

Star Wars films:
Episode IV — A New Hope (1977)
Episode II — Attack of the Clones (2002)

Set construction start: Mid-February 1976 / early August 2000

Production: 1 April 1976 / 11 September 2000

Star Wars location | Film set:
Great Chott Salt Flats | Lars Homestead (interior)

Leads on set: Episode IV
Mark Hamill / Luke Skywalker
Phil Brown / Owen Lars
Shelagh Fraser / Beru Lars
Jack Purvis / robot

Leads on set: Episode II
Hayden Christensen / Anakin Skywalker
Natalie  Portman / Padmé Amidala Naberrie
Anthony Daniels / See Threepio (C-3PO)
Jack Thompson / Cliegg Lars
Joel Edgerton / Owen Lars
Bonnie Maree Piesse / Beru Whitesun

Scenes: Episode IV
26 [Purchase of C-3PO and R2-D2] Filmed: 1 April 1976
A28 [Lars Homestead—dining room] — Filmed: 1 April 1976
A28A [Lars Homestead—dining room] <deleted> — Filmed: 1 April 1976
32 [Owen looking for Luke at homestead] — Filmed: 1 April 1976
Final cut: 3
Deleted: 1    

Scenes: Episode II
90 [Anakin meets the Lars family] — Filmed: 11 September 2000
92 [They discuss Shmi’s fate] — Filmed: 11 September 2000
101 [Padmé pacing in the courtyard] <deleted> — Filmed: 11 September 2000
Final cut: 2
Deleted: 1

Blueprint: Spatial proximity of pits 1-3 at Hotel Sidi Idriss loosely mirrors the three-pit layout of the Lars Homestead exterior set constructed on the Chott el-Djerid salt flats, located 265 km to the west.

Mural: Ceiling  artwork in the film site cave used for the Lars Homestead dining room set (pit 2/cave 9) was created in approximately 1968, the year the multi-pit Hotel Sidi Idriss opened for business.

Beru’s kitchen: The lateral tunnel connecting pit 1 to pit 2 (constructed in 1967/1968) paired with the adjoining steps leading into pit 2/cave 9 were collectively used as the template for the Episode IV Lars Homestead kitchen set (EMI-Elstree Studios). No kitchen interior scenes for either film were shot in Matmata.

Tandem: George Lucas and Anthony Daniels were the only cast/crew members to be in Matmata for the two production days across both films. Daniels was a bystander above pit 2 at the site during Episode IV production.

The End: Final Star Wars franchise filming location/activity in Tunisia (Episode II).

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Kairouan

OVERVIEW

Site: Kairouan

GPS: 35.676441, 10.099909

Location: Kairouan medina (old city), Kairouan Governorate, central Tunisia

Description: Enduring ancient Arab-Muslim cultural/intellectual center (670 CE)

Filming areas:
plazas (x2)
private properties (x3)
streets/alleys (x13)

Indiana Jones film:
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Set construction start: Early September 1980

Production: 17-20 September 1980

Indiana Jones location | Film sets:
Egypt | Cairo souk | bazaar streets & plazas
Egypt | Cairo souk | hitmen flat (balcony/room)
Egypt | Cairo souk | Marhala Bar (exterior/interior)
Egypt | Cairo souk | Omar’s Square
Egypt | Cairo souk | residential alleys
Egypt | Cairo souk | Sallah’s terrace (rooftop)

Leads on set:
Harrison Ford / Indiana Jones
Karen Allen / Marion Ravenwood
Paul Freeman / René Belloq
John Rhys-Davies / Sallah Mohammed el-Kahir
Souad Messaoudi / Fayah
Vic Tablian / Monkey Man
Steve Hanson / German Agent
Terry Richards / Cairo Swordsman

Scenes:
59 [Lunch on Sallah’s rooftop terrace; views over Cairo; monkey appears]
61 [Sallah & Indy discuss German dig, map room, medallion, and Ark on terrace]
63 [Indy & Marion enter bazaar with monkey]
64 [​​Monkey runs to Monkey Man in alley]
64B [Monkey Man spies on Indy & Marion in bazaar]
64C [German agents spot Indy & Marion from balcony, order Arab hitmen to action]
65 [Arabs ambush Indy & Marion; cart rides off with Marion; Indy unleashes whip]
66 [Marion on the run, hits Arab with frying pan, hides in basket]
68 [Chattering monkey reveals Marion’s hiding place]
69 [Indy cuts down last bad Arab, starts to follow Marion]
70 [Arabs carry Marion away in basket; Marion shouts for Indy]
72 [Foot chase down streets and alleys]
74 [Indy pushes through crowded square, dodges gunfire, takes cover; basket heaved into back of truck]
75 [Back of truck filled with munitions]
76 [Truck on the move; Indy shoots driver; truck rolls over and explodes]
77 [Indy drowns his sorrows at Arab bar; German agents escort Indy to Belloq’s table; Sallah’s children save Indy]
78 [Indy, Sallah & children climb into truck in front of Arab bar]
79 [Monkey Man watches, starts motorcycle to follow truck]
79A [Indy & Sallah arrive at Imam’s house; Monkey Man emerges from the shadows] <deleted>
118 [Indy drives truck into Omar’s Garage; Arabs set up bazaar, hide location from German staff car]
Final cut: 19
Deleted: 1

Title: Released as Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, the official title was expanded in 1999 to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark for video release packaging (although the original title is retained onscreen) to mirror the naming convention used for the sequels.

UNESCO: Kairouan medina, founded by the Umayyads in 670 CE as a strategic center point for Islamic conquests in the Maghreb and Andalusia, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 for its preserved network of ancient walls, gates, minarets, cupolas, winding streets, courtyard houses, and historic mosques. The Mosque of the Three Doors (866 CE)—oldest known mosque in the world with a sculpted facade—appears in the background in four separate scenes.

Name: Kairouan (Arabic: “camp” or “caravan”) sounds similar to Cairo, coincidentally reflecting the Egyptian capital setting adopted for Indiana Jones filming.

Antennas: To mimic 1930s-era cityscape footage from the properties used for Sallah’s terrace and the German/Egyptian hitmen balcony, crew members during a single day organized the removal of over 300 TV antennas from rooftops scattered throughout the medina.

Sallah’s terrace: Crew utilized two separate rooftop areas on a single multi-story residence (located on Rue Salah Soussi) to construct a unified elevated terrace (complete with stairs) for panoramic views over the medina.

Screenplay changes: On the tail end of location shooting, several planned scenes/sequences were shortened (e.g. funeral procession removed from Indy’s street chase), omitted (e.g. German staff car in pursuit of Indy’s truck in Cairo before arriving at Omar’s Square), or deleted (e.g. Imam’s house exterior activity) due to dysentery and heat-fatigue among the cast/crew. These on-the-fly decisions (1) prompted a more compact filming footprint in the medina (with repeat usage of Place J’raba and sections of Avenida Habib Bourguiba) for multiple scenes and (2) produced iconic modified takes such as Indy’s showdown with the Cairo Swordsman.

Arab bar: Crew adopted both the interior and exterior of a popular 1970s-era local coffee shop (Café Hassanet)—now the Hassanet Shoes Gallery with an upper floor carpet shop flanked by two jewelry stores—to shoot footage set at Marhala Bar (name not present in screenplay; derived from set dressing work).

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Amghar Mosque

OVERVIEW

Site: Amghar Mosque

GPS: 33.740849, 10.734973

Location: Ajim outskirts, Médenine Governorate, Djerba island, Tunisia

Description:
Ibadi coastal defense mosque (10th century CE)
Decommissioned religious site (since at least 1975)

Star Wars film:
Episode IV — A New Hope (1977)

Set construction: n/a

Production: 4 April 1976

Star Wars location | Film set:
Jundland Wastes | Obi-Wan Kenobi’s house (exterior)

Leads on set: n/a

Sequence:
Transition to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s house {plate} — Filmed: 4 April 1976
Final cut: 1
Deleted: 0

Plate: Only Star Wars film site in Tunisia filmed strictly as a plate (no actors), augmented in post-production with a composited landspeeder.

Framed setting: Cropped footage was filmed at low camera angles from at least two different vantage points to create the inland Jundland Wastes visual, hiding views of the Mediterranean (Gulf of Gabès) coastline surrounding the mosque.

Unscheduled: Last-minute 2nd unit location shoot (absent from call sheet records) filmed on the last day of 1st unit Episode IV principal photography in Tunisia at nearby Sidi Jemour Mosque.

Replaced: Episode IV Special Edition (1997) replaced Amghar Mosque footage with a cliffside CGI-enhanced miniature, relegating on-screen discovery of “Old Ben’s” original Tatooine dwelling to pre-1997 archived copies.

Invader: Paris-based French artist Invader attached the Obi-Wan mosaic to the mosque south wall in November 2019 as part of a 15-day project to install 58 pre-made “space invader” mosaics around Djerba island.

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Ajim

OVERVIEW

Site: Ajim neighborhood (Al-Hunit Mosque district)

GPS: 33.723964, 10.750016

Location: Ajim city center, Médenine Governorate, Djerba island, Tunisia

Description:
Bakery (abandoned)
Plaza
Two side streets (Rue Habib Thameur & unnamed)

Star Wars film:
Episode IV — A New Hope (1977)

Set construction start: Mid-February 1976

Production: 2-3 April 1976

Star Wars location | Film sets:
Mos Eisley | Cantina (exterior)
Mos Eisley | Docking Bay 94 alley
Mos Eisley | plaza
Mos Eisley | stormtrooper checkpoint

Leads on set:
Alec  Guinness / Obi-Wan Kenobi
Mark Hamill / Luke Skywalker
Anthony Daniels / See Threepio (C-3PO)
Kenny Baker / Artoo Detoo (R2-D2)
Anthony Forrest / stormtrooper patrol lead
Jack Purvis / robot
Peter Diamond (stunt supervisor) / cantina patron

Scenes:
48 [Ben: “These are not the droids you’re looking for”] — Filmed: 2 April 1976
49 [In Luke’s landspeeder, they approach cantina] — Filmed: 3 April 1976
ZA50 [Droids in front of cantina] — Filmed: 3 April 1976
A50 [Ben tells Luke he’ll have to sell his landspeeder] Filmed: 3 April 1976
59 [Mos Eisley: stormtroopers watch Millennium Falcon blast off] —  Filmed: 2 April 1976
Final cut: 5
Deleted: 0

Recce: The Star Wars recce in mid-November 1975 scouted an expanded footprint in the Ajim center for potential Mos Eisley footage, to include an unnamed street located one block northwest of the film site area.

Party: Cast/crew celebrated Alec Guinness’ 62nd birthday on set in Ajim (2 April 1976). 

Architecture: Djerban architecture (Amazigh/Ibadi Islamic blended style)—the combination of (1) simplistic domes, (2) barrel-vaulted roofs, and (3) weight-bearing external buttresses that directly shaped “Tatooine” design—is readily visible in Ajim, both inside the small city and on menzel complexes in rural outskirts.

Mos Eisley: Crews added set dressings to a now-abandoned bakery (cantina exterior) with a domed side section on Avenue Abou el Kacem Chabbi, an adjoining rectangular plaza (landspeeder and pedestrian traffic) once lined to the north and south with domed grain storage ghorfas, and two intersecting side streets (stormtrooper patrol activity focused on Rue Habib Thameur) just north of the plaza to create the Mos Eisley film site area in Ajim.

Spaceship: The “roller” machine used to make sandcrawler tracks at the Lars Homestead set on the Chott el-Djerid salt flats was repurposed as the elongated tail of the unnamed crashed spaceship (not the Dowager Queen) constructed to cover a large tree (since removed) near the cantina set and city buildings in the background, particularly the Ajim Primary School complex.

Jerba prop: Two shaggy-haired, fiberglass/latex skin beast-of-burden “jerbas” (named after Djerba island; call sheet: “cow with pack and saddle”) were positioned close to the cantina set faux entrance.

Stormtroopers: Anthony Forrest, sunburned from Djerban beachfront lounging while waiting to film Tosche Station scenes at Sidi Jemour Mosque after the Ajim location shoot, was cast last-minute as the the ranking stormtrooper (joining six local Tunisian stormtroopers on set) to fill the need for an English-speaking patrol lead at the security checkpoint to fluidly interact with the Jedi mind trick dialogue.

Torn pants: For the last C-3PO activity filmed in Tunisia, Anthony Daniels’ shuffle in scene 49 from the parked landspeeder toward the cantina set faux entrance was hampered by a visible split down the seat of his pants.

Controversy: Removing the “orange blob” visible under Luke’s motorized landspeeder while driving across the plaza (created by smearing vaseline on the camera lens in Ajim to disguise the landspeeder wheels) and expanding the overall vision of Mos Eisley (hindered by location shoot realities in Ajim) were key factors that prompted The Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition revisions decades later, sparking the enduring “original version” debate coupled with the #ReleaseTheOriginalTrilogy campaign. 

Cantina: Identified in screenplay versions either as the “spaceport cantina” or “Mos Eisley cantina,” the term “Chalmun’s Cantina” (not a screenplay reference) was first introduced in the roleplaying sourcebook Galaxy Guide 7: Mos Eisley (1993).

Modernization: Community-wide construction/improvement projects in addition to ownership neglect have altered, replaced, or left derelict almost all film site reference points in the Ajim neighborhood.

Invader: Paris-based French artist Invader in November 2019 attached the stormtrooper mosaic to the abandoned bakery exterior (on the northern face under the dome where crews constructed the cantina set faux entrance) as part of a 15-day project to install 58 pre-made “space invader” mosaics around Djerba island.