With the release of the Star Wars saga in 3D hitting the big screen this month (March in Japan) I thought it would be a nice idea to compile the (almost) complete shooting locations for the first of the prequel films released back in the Summer of 1999.
Theed Palace in Naboo can be seen 9 minutes into the film when we see the big window, which is in reality the Caserta Palace in Caserta (below), just north of Naples in Italy. I visited this palace in August 2009 as it has played it’s part in Hollywood cinema countless times with ‘Mission Impossible III‘ (2006) and ‘Angels & Demons‘ (2009) among others also being filmed there.
The next location to appear is not quite so glamorous as its Watford which is just north of London. Whippendale Wood (below) on Grove Mill Lane was the setting for the Naboo forest where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan bump into Jar Jar Binks after 11 minutes and end up saving his life a couple of times. More on this English forest later.
Its back to Italy on 20 minutes as the Trade Federation, using an army of battle droids, descend the stairs of Caserta Palace having taken over Queen Amidala’s peaceful Royal Palace.
With the Naboo cruisers hyperdrive leaking the Jedi are forced to land on Tatooine and its the Yardangs (below) which are first seen on the half hour mark. These strange shaped rock formations are located in Tozeur very, very close to the Mos Espa set.
Mos Esp appears moments later as Qui-Gon, R2D2, Jar Jar Binks and Padmé hike their way across the desert and enter this spaceport.
The foursome come across Watto the Toydarian who runs a junk shop (below) selling used ship parts which they desperately need so they can make it to Coruscant.
The backlot of the junk shop is through the arch seen below but is now all but empty.
The young Anakin Skywalker runs in to Watto’s workshop and on to our screens for the first time just after the half hour mark and I was very happy to meet the actor Jake Lloyd nine years later (below) when he was in town for the ‘Star Wars Celebration Japan‘ event. We had a short chat (as he was tired from promotional duties) and he was very nice posing for the photo below and signing my iconic image.
Also at that event was Ray Park who makes his first appearance on screen after 40 minutes in his role as Sith apprentice Darth Maul; the character who is quite possibly the icon of the first episode.
The alley where Gui-Gon calls Obi-Wan is on screen on 35 minutes and just after that we see the cafe terrace where we’re introduced to Sebulba (who would go on to race against Anakin at the Boonta Eve Pod Race) following an altercation with Jar Jar and a bowl of soup. Thankfully young Ani intervenes to save the clumsy Gungan. Take a closer look and you can see me inside the building.
Jira is the old lady who warns Anakin and co on 37 mins about the sandstorm coming their way. Her fruit stall is on the left almost as soon as you enter the Mos Espa set.
Anakin leads the Jedi to his home during this sandstorm on 38 mins but the screenshots below are of its appearance after 75 mins when he has to say a sad farewell to his mother Shmi. This place is the alley behind Ksar Medenine and is not as nice as it looks on screen where the crew covered the floor in sand to make it look more desert-like. No set dressing was remaining when I was there and it looked like people actually lived there.
Qui-Gon and Anakin’s mother discuss the boys father (or lack of one rather!) at Ksar Hadada (also known as Ksar Hedada) in Tunisia which is actually a fair distance from Ksar Medenine but unlike that place it now looks nothing remotely like its appearance in the film on 46 mins. This place is now part hotel, part Ksar and part building site and so made it difficult to locate the exact filming shots.
Ong Jemal (a.k.a. camelhead rock) appears on screen a couple of times in scenes with Darth Maul on 51 and 76 mins respectively. This can be found near the Mos Espa set and is included in many tours from Tozeur. The temperature was at 45 degrees celsius when I was there! It can also be seen in ‘The English Patient‘ and is found (albeit with the help of a guide!) in the salty desert Chott El Gharsa.
The dessert landscapes of Tunisia are left behind for good as its back to England and Whippendell Wood where Padmé reveals she is Queen Amidala and forms an alliance with Boss Nass. This location is not exactly simple to find but if you take the right path when you enter the woods from the car park then you eventually come to the tree with the dimple and the clearing area.
Across from the car park on the other side of the road and over the country lane is what looks like a golf course where a few scenes were filmed and are quite easy to locate as they’re all in one place but just shot from slightly different angles. This is where Amidala and the rebels make plans on 102 minutes to attack Naboo’s capital city of Theed.
Having killed Qui-Gon its up to Obi-Wan to avenge the Sith apprentice Darth Maul which he does after a lightsaber duel which sends him to his death…or does it?! (Clone Wars season 3 reveals a bit more about this.) On a slightly tedious connection I was given a Darth Maul birthday cake in 1999 by my younger sister and parents on their visit to see me in Hull and erm, that cake was destroyed too if you know what I mean!
You can see other Star Wars Traveller entries by clicking on the following: