(Mos Espa set area)
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 / Episode II
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
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
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 (Mos Espa marketplace set) filmed in Tunisia.
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 film 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 film set, defined by (1) simplistic domes, (2) barrel-vaulted roofs, and (3) weight-bearing external buttresses.
Accessibility: Very easy; desert terrain; paved roads lead directly to the Mos Espa film set; 4×4 vehicle advantageous, but not necessary to explore surrounding Mos Espa arena viewing platform, grandstand, and starting grid areas; unrestricted parking.