Ong Jemel outcrop
Site: Ong Jemel outcrop area
GPS: 34.015937, 7.912498
Location: Chott el-Gharsa salt flats (Tozeur Governorate) / Southwest Tunisia
Description: Meteorized rock zooform (Neogene Period)
Star Wars film:
Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999)
Set construction start: Early August 1997
Production: Early August 1997
Star Wars locations | Film sets:
Mos Espa podrace circuit | Canyon Dune Turn
Mospic High Range | Sith landing desert mesa
Lead on set:
Ray Park / Darth Maul
84 [Darth Maul lands on desert mesa at dusk] — Filmed: 5 August 1997
108 [Darth Maul follows probe droid to Mos Espa] — Filmed: 5 August 1997
Final cut: 2
Highway: Lucasfilm reused the hard-packed sand/salt “Saul Zaentz Imperial Highway” created during production for The English Patient (1996) to travel between the Tozeur airport and the Ong Jemel area, renaming the route as the “JAK Highway.”
Camel: No images of the north/northwest side of the outcrop—the best vantage point from which to view the formations loosely resembling the “camel’s neck” namesake of the zooform—appear in the film.
Mesa: All filming activity featuring Ray Park at this site was staged on the mesa directly south of the Ong Jemel outcrop.
Snipers: Tusken Raider extras were filmed on both the Ong Jemel outcrop and the mesa south of the outcrop for podrace sniper action.
Reconnaissance: Written in the screenplay as six Sith probe droids sent out in pairs to three different cities, the final cut limits the scope of Darth Maul’s reconnaissance to two cities (Mos Entha & Mos Espa) with only three CGI probe droids.
Viewfinder: The baseline background footage (with some CGI geographic embellishment) in Darth Maul’s electrobinocular viewfinder for the two CGI cities resembles Chott el-Gharsa, specifically the salt flats area surrounding the ridge line located some 600 meters west of the Ong Jemel outcrop.
Vanity Fair: Episode I promotional photoshoot (led by Annie Liebovitz) on 1 August 1997 staged Liam Neeson and Jake Lloyd on the mesa south of the Ong Jemel outcrop (with the “camel’s neck” visible), conflating images of Qui-Gon Jinn and Anakin Skywalker in a setting used only for Darth Maul, Tusken Raiders, and Jawas in the film.
Accessibility: Easy; desert/salt flats terrain; hard-packed sand roads; 4×4 vehicle advantageous, but not necessary; impeded by heavy rainfall; unrestricted parking surrounding the site; short low-impact hike required to climb outcrop and adjacent mesa.