In 1977 the world changed forever. The epic space opera, Star Wars, revolutionized the way films were made and the way audiences watched them. 2017 is the 40th anniversary of that groundbreaking undertaking. And I got to visit one of the filming locations in Tunisia.
George Lucas originally conceived Luke Skywalker‘s home planet to be a lush jungle, however, he altered the decision at the eleventh hour to be a desert world to pay homage to Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic, Dune. He learned about the indigenous people of North Africa, who lived in the mountain caves that surrounded the borders of the Sahara Desert and was inspired.
Tatooine was born. In our world, the real-life Tataouine can be found in southern Tunisia and it’s pre-Arab inhabitants are known as Berbers. They have spent centuries – up to this day – living in troglodyte caverns underground. The most famous of these can be found in Old Matmata (or Matmata Kadeema) and became the now well-recognized home of Luke’s Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru – desert moisture farmers.
As a lifelong fan of the franchise, I just had to see the Lars’ Homestead for myself. The Hotel Sidi Driss isn’t only a decently preserved Star Wars set. It’s also a hotel, restaurant, and bar. I was surprised to see just how hoppin’ the place was. Every night, it crowds with locals drinking beer and wine as well as snacking on their favorite southern Tunisian foods. The loud music detracts from the magic, but if you want solitude, the place is perfectly quiet between dawn and 4pm.
Jen and I got to eat dinner at Luke Skywalker’s dining room table. We got to sleep in his bedroom (never filmed, but Mark Hamill actually slept there…. actually, I can’t honestly back that up, there’s just no evidence that any of the cast or crew stayed the night in the cave rooms – and to go even further, I couldn’t find evidence that the now hotel was a hotel in 1975 either. That may have been a more recent alteration).
We also took some fun photos. See for yourself!
Until Next Time…