Tunisians restore Mos Espa and Lars homestead sets to draw tourists

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From Deutsche Well: [Note: the author mistakenly believes that Mos Espa first appeared in A New Hope]

“Ong Jmel lies in the Southwest of Tunisia. To Star Wars fans, the location is better known as Mos Espa, the galaxy waystation where all the gloomy figures gather. […] It’s also where Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker – who later became Darth Vader – was born.

There’s also the small village of Matmata, where Luke Skywalker was raised by his uncle and aunt. The house in the film is actually a hotel which was constructed in such a way as to remain cool in the desert heat – namely, underground. […]

You might think that tourism here would be booming; Star Wars has millions of fans around the world, and who doesn’t enjoy slipping into a Jedi knight costume and setting foot where Luke Skywalker himself once tread?

For many years, that was the case. Then terrorism came to Tunisia and the tourists stayed home. The town of Mos Espa – a collection of buildings made of wood and papier-maché – were swallowed up by the desert sand.

Save Most Espa, a 2014 initiative by fans, collected donations in excess of $75,000 for the project, a sum handed over to the Tunisian government. Mos Espa was dug out of the sand.

Nevertheless, tourists are still staying home or preferring to stay at the sandy beaches in the North of the country instead of driving the nearly 500 kilometers (over 300 miles) to the South, where George Lucas’s desert planet makes its home and where there is enough sun to completely dry out the landscape.

Loyal fans have not given up, however. Nabil Gasmi of the regional tourism organization CDTOS is continuing work to protect the film set from being forgotten. “We have to. Everyone here in the area profits from the film set and sees it as a part of their inheritance,” he told German news agency dpa.

He dreams of turning the region into a tourist magnet – complete with convenience store, museum, film screenings and festivals. Residents should be brought on board, as many, especially the young people, are unemployed.

A delegation of Tunisian tourism managers presented their idea at the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) trade fair in Berlin in March 2017. They are especially interested in acquiring tourists from around Asia that are increasingly traveling around the globe to visit the hot spots. Why not add southwestern Tunisia to the list?

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Doug Chiang: Rogue One‘s design “fills the gaps” between Episodes III and IV

u-wing“[…] ComingSoon.net: Now this was interesting because I know in the prequels, you actually had a little bit of leeway, in the sense that you were so far before the original trilogy that you could kind of come up with some different looks. It was more of an art deco kind of throwback look. But on this one, it’s so close to “A New Hope”. How did you try to keep it contemporary, but also make sure to adhere to that design aesthetic?

Chiang: Yeah, that is a really good question because that’s the question we asked ourselves. We knew “Rogue One” was going to take place right before “Episode IV”. So a majority of our design had to fit seamlessly with “Episode IV”. Their approach was that what percent had to fit. And there’s fewer designs in the sense that you won’t just build the thing. So for instance, like the Yavin hangar. So we saw bits of it in “Episode IV”, but what if George had turned the camera around the other way?

 

And so, what it allowed us was to design something that kind of was heavily influenced by “Episode IV” and stayed true to it, but yet it gave us license to open up and expand the design vocabulary a little bit more, while still kind of fitting in. It was a really great approach for us, because one, we knew that the design had to feel as if we were designing a movie, as if we were designing an alternate version of “Episode IV”. But then, we also knew because the film before, there was going to be a small percentage, maybe 20 percent of new designs, and that was going to give us the excuse to bridge that “Episode III” to “IV”, to kind of have that sort of design history lineage, to make sense of all that.

And that’s one of the great things. When I started working on “Star Wars” George said, “You know, we’re going to try something new that we weren’t going to copy old designs.” And it seems like that was kind of the best thing because the process of designing for “Star Wars” was exactly the same. The only difference was the result. But I got to understand how George approached designs for “Star Wars”. And his approach was, really, he created the designs in our design history so that, you know, there are a lot of visual distinctions. Like, “IV”, “V” and “VI” can be easily anchored in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s designs, and “I”, “II” and “III” are like, in the 20’s and 30’s. And so, when you know that, you can then fill in the gaps, you know how to bridge the non-aesthetics.

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Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View Anthology Book Celebrates 40 years of a Galaxy Far, Far Away

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“When Star Wars: A New Hope was first released in 1977, part of its appeal was that the world it presented felt alive. Landspeeders and starships were dirty. Droids broke down. And it was filled with cool, weird, and reallyweird background characters. (Really, just take a look around the Mos Eisley cantina.) Never mind Han, Luke, Leia, Darth Vader, and Obi-Wan. Who were these other guys? What was their story? Just seeing them brought up questions for fans that sparked the imagination.

In celebration of Star Wars’ 40th anniversary, Del Rey is going to shine the spotlight on those unsung weirdos, heroes, and villains with a unique, new anthology. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, coming October 2017, will bring together more than 40 authors for 40 stories. Each will be told from the perspective of background characters of A New Hope — from X-wing pilots who helped Luke destroy the Death Star to the stormtroopers who never quite could find the droids they were looking for. There’s never been a Star Wars book like it, and you can get a first look at the cover below!

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John Knoll compares the number of VFX shots in every Star Wars movie

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/FILM : “Let’s talk about the visual effects, something that you’ve been involved with for awhile. How many visual effects are there in Rogue One, and how does that compare to the other Star Wars movies?”

John Knoll :  “It’s about 1,700. The original A New Hope was about 360. Empire Strikes Back was about 700. Return of the Jedi was about 900 or 950. Episode I was 1,900-something, 1950, I think. Episode II was 2,200. Episode III was 2,400. Episode VII was, I think just under 2,000. So we’re kind of in the middle.”

Read the rest of the interview at /FILM.

John Knoll is Chief Creative Officer and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic. He has been Visual Effects Supervisor of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One, among many other films.