The Star Wars franchise has captured the imaginations of people around the world since “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope” was released in 1977. For decades fans have made journeys to these sometimes not-so-faraway places to see where their favorite film was shot.
Many of the films in the franchise feature impressive landscapes of many types, many of which aren’t as alien as some might think. George Lucas’ original three films are well known for focusing on a particular kind of landscape in each film.
The igloo exterior of Luke’s house was filmed about 300 kilometers away on the dried-up salt lake of Chott El Jerid. The igloo is still there, reachable with a decent car at the GPS coordinates 33°50’34.42″N, 7°46’44.48″E. The surrounding craters are man-made, to create the illusion that the underground house is next to it. The igloo from the 1977 movie was dismantled, but again rebuilt for “Attack of the Clones,” and later restored by a fan. Nearby is La Grande Dune, site of the Dune Sea. About 30 minutes from the igloo is the set of Mos Espa, the spaceport town where Anakin was discovered as a young slave.
Endor, the forest moon home of the furry Ewoks, was filmed among California’s giant redwoods. Most of the well-known scenes were shot on private land owned by a lumber company. Since the cast and crew worked on “Return of the Jedi” in 1982, heavy logging has left most of the landscape unrecognizable. But driving through the parks still gives a feel for the set, especially along the Avenue of the Giants highway. In Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park and the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, plates were filmed for some chase scenes.
Exteriors of the ice world Hoth in “The Empire Strikes Back” were shot in the tiny village of Finse, Norway. The cast and crew stayed at the Finse 1222 Hotel, where snowstorm scenes were shot from the back door. But the main battlefield scenes were shot on the nearby glacier. In March and April, skies are normally clear and there’s still plenty of snow. Guides in Finse can help with hikes to see the exact locations.
The new “Rogue One” Star Wars film adds to the list of impressive location shoots. Iceland’s other-worldy landscape is fast becoming the go-to destination for sci-fi movies, and “Rogue One” joins the club.
The black sand beach of Reynisfjara, a wild stretch of North Atlantic coastline close to the small town of Vik and Iceland’s southernmost tip, stands in for the stormy planet of Eadu. We stay on “Rogue One’s” Eadu for another visit to Iceland, this time Krafla, an active volcano in the country’s remote northeast. A source of geothermal energy, Krafla’s seething crater and nearby Lake Mývatn have also made an appearance in “Game of Thrones.”