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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 complex (16th century CE)

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.

Accessibility: Very easy; flat terrain; paved roads; close proximity to airport; parking area (33.831601, 10.748108) directly at the site.

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Maguer Gorge

OVERVIEW

Site: Maguer Gorge

GPS: 34.036182, 8.280345

Location: Jebel Sidi Bouhlel, Dghoumès National Park (Tozeur Governorate) / Southwest Tunisia

Description: Geological formation (Campanian Age)

Star Wars films:
Episode IV — A New Hope (1977)
Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999)

Set construction start: 26 March 1976 / n/a

Production: 26, 28-31 March, ~5 April 1976 / ~25 July 1997 

Star Wars locations | Film sets:
Jundland Wastes | rock mesa canyon
Mos Espa podrace circuit | Canyon Dune Turn
Sluuce Canyon | desert wasteland bluff

Leads on set: Episode IV
Alec Guinness / Obi-Wan Kenobi
Mark Hamill / Luke Skywalker
Anthony Daniels / See Threepio (C-3PO)
Kenny Baker / Artoo Detoo (R2-D2)
Jack Purvis / head Jawa (Legends: Dathcha)
Peter Diamond (stunt supervisor) / Tusken Raider

Scenes: Episode IV
17 [Jawas neutralize R2-D2] — Filmed: 30 March 1976
18 [Jawas carry R2-D2 to sandcrawler] — Filmed: 30 March 1976
35 [Tusken Raiders spot Luke in landspeeder] — Filmed: 29 March 1976
37 [Luke and C-3PO find R2-D2] — Filmed: 26 March 1976
38 [Luke attacked by Tusken Raiders] — Filmed: 26, 29 March 1976
39 [Arrival of Ben Kenobi in canyon] — Filmed: 28-29 March 1976
40 [Luke finds injured C-3PO] — Filmed: 28 March 1976
B42 [Luke and Ben discover killed Jawas] — Filmed: 31 March 1976
E42 [Jawa bonfire] — Filmed: 31 March 1976
47 [View of Mos Eisley, “wretched hive of scum and villainy”] — Filmed: 29 March 1976
Final cut: 10
Deleted: 0

Back-projection: Episode IV 
Scene 34 [Luke spots fugitive R2-D2] <90% deleted> — Filmed: ~5 April 1976
Final cut: 0
Deleted: 1

Sequences: Episode I
Tusken Raider sniper point #1 (podrace / lap 1) — Filmed: ~25 July 1997
Tusken Raider sniper point #2 (podrace / lap 1 and lap 2) <lap 2 deleted> — Filmed: ~25 July 1997
Tusken Raider sniper point #3 (podrace / lap 1) — Filmed: ~25 July 1997
Tusken Raider sniper point #6 (podrace / lap 2 ) — Filmed: ~25 July 1997
Tusken Raider sniper point #7 and #8 (podrace / lap 2) <deleted> — Filmed: ~25 July 1997
Tusken Raider sniper point #9 and #10 (podrace / lap 2) <deleted> — Filmed: ~25 July 1997
Final cut: 4
Deleted: 3

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

Production: 10 September 1980

Indiana Jones location | Film set:
Greek island | canyon near Geheimhaven

Leads on set: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Harrison Ford / Indiana Jones
Karen Allen / Marion Ravenwood
Paul Freeman / René Emile Belloq
Ronald Lacey / Arnold Ernst Toht
Wolf Kahler / Herman Dietrich

Scene: Raiders of the Lost Ark
144 [Indy tracks Nazi procession, threatens ark with bazooka] — Filmed: 10 September 1980
Final cut: 1
Deleted: 0

Nickname: Popularly known as “Star Wars Canyon” due to its prolific use by Lucasfilm crews.

Aerial footage: Only Star Wars film site in Tunisia filmed from an aircraft as part of production. 

Native text: Arabic text graffiti appears in Episode IV on the canyon wall behind the parked landspeeder, inadvertently distinguishing Arabic as the first written text presented on fictional Tatooine.

Wrap: Final film site for Episode IV principal photography in Tunisia (2nd unit). 

Historic: First Star Wars prequels filming location in Tunisia.

Record: Only film site in Tunisia repurposed for three geographically distinct Star Wars locations on fictional Tatooine.

Television: Only film site in Tunisia featured in a Star Wars franchise live-action series (The Mandalorian). 

Shared space: Indiana Jones filming areas overlap with the Star Wars footprint in the canyon, geographically pairing (1) the ark procession with C-3PO’’s post-Tusken attack recovery location, R2-D2’s alcove hideout, Luke’s landspeeder, Obi-Wan’s “Hello There!” introduction to Luke, and Tusken Raider podrace sniper point #1 as well as (2) Indy’s bazooka position with the Tusken Raider ambush boulders and Obi-Wan’s appearance point.

Cinematic overlap: Beyond the three Lucasfilm movies, canyon interior featured in three additional full-length films: The Little Prince (1974), The English Patient (1996), and Bent Keltoum (2001).

Accessibility: Very easy; foothills terrain; paved roads; parking area (34.032367, 8.282746) near the gorge entrance at the base of Jebel Sidi Bouhlel. Access to the western ridge summit requires moderate effort but no climbing expertise.

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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 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.

Accessibility: Very easy; desert terrain; paved roads lead directly to the Mos Espa set; 4×4 vehicle advantageous, but not necessary to explore surrounding Mos Espa arena viewing platform, grandstand, and starting grid areas; unrestricted parking.

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Chott el-Djerid

OVERVIEW

Site: Chott el-Djerid (northwest sector) 

GPS: 33.842831, 7.779026

Location: Salt flats between the Kebili and Tozeur governorates / Southwest Tunisia

Description: Saline dry lake (ca. 5900 km²), largest in the Sahara 

Star Wars films:
Episode IV — A New Hope (1977)
Episode II — Attack of the Clones (2002)
Episode III — Revenge of the Sith (2005)

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

Production: 22-23, 25, 29 March 1976 / 7, 9 September 2000 / 7 September 2000

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

Leads on set: Episode IV
Mark  Hamill / Luke Skywalker
Phil Brown / Owen Lars
Anthony Daniels / See Threepio (C-3PO)
Kenny Baker / Artoo Detoo (R2-D2)
Jack Purvis / head Jawa (Legends: Dathcha) 

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

Leads on set: Episode III
Joel Edgerton / Owen Lars

Scenes: Episode IV
3 [Luke in wasteland with droid that malfunctions] <deleted> — Filmed: 25, 29 March 1976
26 [Purchase of C-3PO and R2-D2] Filmed: 22-23, 25 March 1976
29 [Luke and giant twin suns] — Filmed: 29 March 1976
B29 [Luke and C-3PO rush out of homestead to look for R2-D2] Filmed: 22, 29 March 1976
C42 [Luke discovers dead aunt and uncle]Filmed: 25 March 1976
Final cut: 4
Deleted: 1

Scenes: Episode II
88 [They land near the homestead] Filmed: 9 September 2000
89 [C-3PO greets Anakin and Padmé]  — Filmed: 9 September 2000
90 [Anakin meets the Lars family] — Filmed: 9 September 2000
93 [Anakin takes off on Owen’s speeder bike] Filmed: 9 September 2000
97 [Anakin talks to the Jawas] <replaced> — Filmed: 7 September 2000
98 [Anakin finds the bodies of the search party] <deleted> — Filmed: 7 September 2000
100 [Night animal howls near homestead] <deleted> — Filmed: 7 September 2000
115 [Beru draws water]   <deleted> Filmed: 9 September 2000
117 [Anakin returns with Shmi] Filmed: 9 September 2000
131 [The funeral of Shmi] Filmed: 9 September 2000
133 [Lars family waves goodbye]   <deleted> Filmed: 9 September 2000
Final cut: 6
Deleted: 4
Replaced: 1

Scene: Episode III
180 [Obi-Wan hands baby to Owen Lars] <replaced> Filmed: 7 September 2000
Final cut: 0
Replaced: 1

Historic: First-ever Star Wars franchise filming location.

Starkiller: At the point of filming Mark Hamill’s introductory scenes on the salt flats, his heroic character was named “Luke Starkiller” (shooting script).

Sunset: After at least three failed attempts, the original iconic “binary” sunset over the salt flats was filmed with a cloudless light purple skyline shortly before sunset at 18:47 on 29 March 1976.

Blueprint: Three-pit layout of the Lars Homestead exterior set on the salt flats loosely mirrors the spatial proximity of pits 1-3 at Hotel Sidi Idriss (Matmata al-Qadimal), located 265 km to the east. 

Record: Only film site in Tunisia featured in three Star Wars franchise films.

Overlap: Only live-action (with actors) non-studio Episode III filming location, utilized on the first day of Episode II filming in Tunisia, 34 months before the start of Episode III principal photography. 

Tandem: George Lucas and Anthony Daniels were the only cast/crew members present on Chott el-Djerid for production activity across all three films. 

Dome: Homestead dome—cradle of the Star Wars universe—has been built/rebuilt/repaired/restored on six separate occasions spanning from 1976 to 2022: (1) Lucasfilm initial build (February 1976), (2) Lucasfilm mid-production repairs after violent storm (28-29 March 1976), (3) Lucasfilm prequels rebuild (August 2000), (4) Save Lars fan-funded restoration (28-31 May 2012), (5) Discover Tatooine fan-funded restoration (28 April 2018), and (6) Star Wars Tunisia GIZ-funded restoration (May 2022). 

Craters: Star Wars Tunisia film site restoration project (May 2022) leveled all three original Episode IV craters; replaced the (1) living quarters crater with a more compact, fortified circle (complete with flood-control piping) and (2) garage crater with a raised circular platform to display the repaired/reconstructed Episode II garage cover wooden base; but failed to restore the hangar crater, limiting the set to a two-crater layout. 

Accessibility: Easy; salt flats terrain; paved roads lead to salt flats turn-off point (33.866280, 7.780087); 4×4 vehicle advantageous, but not necessary; impeded by heavy rainfall; unrestricted parking surrounding the site.

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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 

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

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.

Accessibility: Very easy; flat terrain; paved roads; parking area (33.723813, 10.750087) directly at the site.