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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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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.