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Eriguet dunes
(yardang field)

OVERVIEW

Site: Eriguet dune system

GPS: 33.994671, 7.848898

Location: Dune landscape south of Chott el-Gharsa (Tozeur Governorate) / Southwest Tunisia

Description: Salt-saturated barchanoid dunes (quartz/gypsum sands)

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

Set construction start: Early May 1997

Production: Late July to early August 1997

Star Wars locations | Film sets:
Mos Espa | slave quarters backyards
Xelric Draw | Mos Espa outskirts
Xelric Draw | Naboo spacecraft (ramp)

Leads on set:
Liam Neeson / Qui-Gon Jinn
Jake Lloyd / Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman / Padmé Amidala Naberrie
Ewan McGregor / Obi-Wan Kenobi
Hugh Quarshie / Captain Panaka (Legends: Quarsh Panaka)
Dhruv Chanchani / Kitster (Legends: Kitster Chanchani Banai)
Ray Park / Darth Maul
Kenny Baker / R2-D2
Ahmed Best / Jar Jar Binks
Oliver Walpole / Seek
Katie Lucas / Amee
Megan Udall / Melee
Warwick Davis / Wald

Scenes:
60 [They trek across the desert, Padmé joins the group] — Filmed: 30 July 1997
68 [“This storm will slow them down”] — Filmed: 30 July 1997
80 [“There’s something about this boy”] <replaced> — Filmed: 30 July 1997
81 [Qui-Gon and Shmi on porch discuss Anakin] — Filmed: 4 August 1997
82 [The pod rises, the engines ignite] — Filmed: 4 August 1997
86 [Dawn before the race] <deleted> Filmed: 6-7 August 1997
103 [They return with the hyperdrive] — Filmed: 30 July 1997
110 [Darth Maul attacks on his speeder] — Filmed: 31 July, 8 August 1997
113 [Qui-Gon and Darth Maul continue their sword battle] — Filmed: 31 July, 8 August 1997
114 [Maul leaps up and falls back to the desert floor] — Filmed: 31 July 1997
Final cut: 8
Deleted: 1
Replaced: 1

Historic: First-ever Star Wars franchise lightsaber duel filmed on location.

Undercover: Small team of German journalists representing Cinema Zeitschrift acquired unsanctioned aerial photographs from a hot-air balloon in early August 1997 of Episode I filming activity, providing unique primary source locational documentation for the Eriguet dunes film sites.

Yardang fields: Although groupings of uniquely shaped windblown sand formations (yardangs) populate assorted pockets of the Tunisian Eriguet dunes landscape, only one yardang field is featured in Star Wars prequels footage.

Template: Architectural elements distinct to the film site area (northwest corner) of Ksar Hadada, located circa 250 km to the southeast, were used as the template to construct a disjointed Mos Espa slave quarters backyards film set (porch and courtyard) in the northern perimeter of the yardang field film site.

Small set: Mos Espa slave quarters backyards film set (buried since ~2004) is also known as the Mos Espa “small set” in comparison to the preserved Mos Espa marketplace/arena pit area set (Mos Espa “large set”) situated approximately 600 meters to the southwest beyond a prominent barchanoid dune.

Tonsillitis: McGregor reportedly suffered from tonsillitis during Episode I production, making him look ill in much of the footage shot in the yardang field film site, which prompted the need to reshoot at Leavesden Studios (England) several of his Tatooine exterior scenes.

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Eriguet dunes
(Mos Espa set area)

OVERVIEW

Site: Eriguet dune system

GPS: 33.994316, 7.842731

Location: Dune landscape south of Chott el-Gharsa (Tozeur Governorate) / Southwest Tunisia

Description: Salt-saturated barchanoid dunes (quartz/gypsum sands)

Star Wars films:
Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999)
Episode II — Attack of the Clones (2002)

Set construction start: Early May 1997 / early August 2000

Production: Late July to mid-August 1997 / 10 September 2000

Star Wars locations | Film sets:
Mos Espa | marketplace
Mos Espa podrace circuit | Grand Arena — grandstand
Mos Espa podrace circuit | Grand Arena — pit area
Mos Espa podrace circuit | Grand Arena — starting grid
Mos Espa podrace circuit | Grand Arena — viewing platform

Leads on set: Episode I
Liam Neeson / Qui-Gon Jinn
Jake Lloyd / Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman / Padmé Amidala Naberrie
Dhruv Chanchani / Kitster (Legends: Kitster Chanchani Banai)
Pernilla August / Shmi Skywalker
Margaret Towner / Jira
Kenny Baker / R2-D2
Ahmed Best / Jar Jar Binks
Warwick Davis / Wald
Danny Wagner / Mawhonic

Leads on set: Episode II
Hayden Christensen / Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman / Padmé Amidala Naberrie
Andy Secombe (voice actor) / Watto

Scenes: Episode I
61 [The odd little group walks down the street] Filmed: 2 August 1997
62 [“We’ll try one of the smaller dealers”] Filmed: 2 August 1997
64 [They move thru the yard picking parts] Filmed: 2,7 August 1997
66 [They find a quiet spot & consider a solution] Filmed: 28 July 1997
67 [Sebulba confronts Jar Jar, Anakin steps in] Filmed: 29 July, 6 August 1997
69 [Anakin stops at Jira’s fruit stand] Filmed: 28 July 1997
76 [Sandstorm engulfs the town] Filmed: 7 August 1997
78 [The storm passed. Padmé doesn’t approve of plan] Filmed: 2 August 1997
88 [Probe droid searches] Filmed: 6 August 1997
91 [The pilots bow to Jabba] Filmed: 5-6 August 1997
92 [Final preparations for the pod race] Filmed: 5 August 1997
93 [Group prepares to watch race, Shmi looks nervously to Qui-Gon] Filmed: 1 August 1997
94 [Pods shoot forward. Anakin’s engines finally ignite] Filmed: 6 August 1997
100 [They celebrate Anakin’s victory] Filmed: 6 August 1997
109 [Qui-Gon cuts probe droid as they leave Jira] <deleted> Filmed: 2 August 1997
Final cut: 14
Deleted: 1

Sequences: Episode I
Grandstand reactions (podrace) — 40 sequences — Filmed: 4-5 August 1997
Pit area reactions (podrace) — 13 sequences — Filmed: 1 August 1997
Viewing platform reactions (podrace) — 16 sequences — Filmed: 1 August 1997
Final cut: 60
Deleted: 9

Scenes: Episode II
80 [Encounter at Watto’s shop] — Filmed: 10 September 2000
97 [Anakin talks to the Jawas] <reshoot> Filmed: 10 September 2000
Final cut: 2
Deleted: 0

Star Wars city: Cinematographic advances backed by a massive film budget drove the decision to construct Mos Espa cityscape and podrace arena set elements in the Tunisian Eriguet dunes for Star Wars prequels production.

Historic: First Star Wars prequels completed scene location filmed in Tunisia (Mos Espa set).

Undercover: Small team of German journalists representing Cinema Zeitschrift acquired unsanctioned aerial photographs from a hot-air balloon in early August 1997 of Episode I filming activity, providing unique primary source locational documentation for the Eriguet dunes film sites. 

Aircraft parts: Nine full-sized podracers (engine/cockpit: 18 pieces total) paired with four podracer cut-outs (engine only) populated the Mos Espa arena starting grid area.

Large set: Mos Espa main set, hub for all Star Wars prequels filming activity in the Eriguet dunes, is also known as the Mos Espa “large set,” distinguishing this preserved Star Wars site from the now-buried Mos Espa “small set” constructed circa 600 meters to the northeast beyond a prominent barchanoid dune.

Djerban influence: Core elements of Djerban architecture (Amazigh/Ibadi Islamic blended style) shaped the “Tatooine” design of all 25 structures featured in the Mos Espa set, defined by (1) simplistic domes, (2) barrel-vaulted roofs, and (3) weight-bearing external buttresses.

Surrounding sets: Episode I footage incorporated three additional filming locations in direct vicinity of the Mos Espa set: (1) grandstand set, (2) starting grid set, and (3) viewing platform set.