A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, 1999 and Tunisia to be exact, George Lucas gave Star Wars fans the most detailed and strikingly beautiful location that the series had to offer. Just ask any Star Wars fan of the first city that springs to mind, they’ll undoubtedly think of Mos Espa, the hometown of one Anakin Skywalker. Fast forward well over a decade however, this real world location may soon be a thing of the past.
Located just to the west of the Tunisian city of Tozeur, lies one of the most detailed Star Wars sets ever built. Nestled amidst the dunes are around 20 buildings covering an area of around 10,000 square meters. One of the largest Star Wars sets produced, many tourists stumble upon the location thinking they’ve been transported in time.
This area was prominently featured in the first of the Star Wars prequels, Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace and has since become one of Tunisia’s key tourist attractions. Tourists can currently visit Mos Espa and get the feel as though they are on the fictional planet of Tatooine, the only thing that’s missing are the twin suns.
CNN reports however, that this iconic area may soon be lost by the very location it resides in. The sand dunes next to Mos Espa are currently moving at a rate of around 4cm per day, with the fictional city lying right in its path. Very soon, Mos Espa may be lost forever.
This news comes at a devastating loss for Tunisia, as the area is frequently included in various holiday packages and draws many visitors, all wishing to gain an insight into this iconic fictional city.
In an interview with CNN, Tahar Karya, an expert in the sand dunes of Tunisia and George Lucas’ personal driver during filming, had this to say about how Tunisia benefited as a result of Mr Lucas:
“More than 1,500 background actors were employed. Agencies and hotels also benefited. Over a period of two-and-a-half months, (Lucas) brought activities to the region and beneficial economic activity. We hope he comes back here again.”
Perhaps George Lucas will return to Tunisia to film the latest Star Wars films? He’d better bring a spade.
The set has remained unused since 2003 after Lucas finished filming Episode 2, the final film that featured Mos Espa. At the time of writing, those interested can still visit the set, but for how much longer?
Better book those tickets sooner rather than later Star Wars fans, as Mos Espa may soon be swallowed up by the Sahara Desert itself. Perhaps a few centuries from now future civilisations may uncover the location and mistake it for a functioning city of our time and not that of a film set.