The Star Wars saga takes us on a journey through landscapes that have become emblematic. Its director George Lucas combines science fiction and fantasy to create an incredible immersion. Throughout the saga, we visit about thirty landscapes ranging from the warmest to the iciest. Come on, let’s board our ship to discover these visual wonders.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Before starting our trip, a few precisions are necessary.
In the Star Wars universe, low-impact travel is not a concept that is explicitly discussed. However, many of the ships and vehicles in the Star Wars universe are powered by advanced technologies such as hyperdrives and sublight engines that allow for efficient interstellar travel. Additionally, some planets in the Star Wars universe are known for their low-impact lifestyle, environmental preservation, and sustainability, such as the planet Endor, home to the Ewoks, which is depicted as a lush, natural world with minimal industrial development. However, it’s important to note that Star Wars is a work of fiction and the technology and practices depicted do not align with real-world low-impact travel practices.
The Star Wars saga has been shot all around the world, in the locations that we present in this article but also in Thailand, California, Guatemala …The landscapes are listed in the order of release of the episodes in the cinema. The saga begins in 1977 and ends in 2019. It is divided into three trilogies. The story tells the confrontation between the Jedi Knights and the Dark Lords of the Sith. These people are Force-sensitives. This mysterious energy gives them more or less powerful psychic, physical and healing powers. Who doesn’t know the famous expression “May the Force be with you”?
The first episode of the first trilogy takes us to the planet Tatooine. It is on this desert planet that the family of the hero, Luke Skywalker, lives. The landscape and native species are hostile. The human settlers are often in conflict with them to compete for the little water left on the planet. The real landscape that has been chosen to represent this virtual reality is Tunisia. The hero lives somewhere in a troglodytic dwelling in Matmata. This scenery is inherited from the Berber populations who decided to build their houses in the rock. Today, the low-impact hotel Sidi Driss maintains the places of this first set.
The director George Lucas will return many times to Tunisia to shoot the scenes of four other episodes. And in particular the first episode of the trilogy which will be the prequel of the whole saga. In the Phantom Menace, the director narrates the childhood of Anakin Skywalker which will lead him to become Darth Vader. Anakin was raised alone by his mother. Both work as slaves for a scrap metal dealer. Ksar Medenine and Ksar Ouled Soltan were chosen for the backgrounds of this episode. These authentic locations are incredible troglodytic dwellings. It is in the canyon of Sidi Bouhlel that the mythical race of modules takes place.
The first film of the latest trilogy, The Force Awakens, ends in Ireland. In this movie, the young Force-sensitive wreck remover Rey appears. She is the one who finds Luke Skywalker on the island of Skellig Michael. In Irish the name Sceilg Mhichíl, means “the steep rock of Micheál”. It is no accident that the director chose this lonely rock as a refuge. As early as the 6th century, monks settled there. This place was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. The landscape is stark with cliffs and little vegetation. The steps and the remaining ruins have shaped the Jedi temple.
Another Irish place was used as a real base, it is Brow Head. This is where Rey has to face her dark side. She dives into a hole that is an old mine.
After the Tunisian heat and the magnificent Irish landscapes, George Lucas brought his team to the Norwegian cold. In Norway, in the village of Finse, the extreme temperatures -down to -15°F- and the snowstorms make the shooting difficult. Parkas were specially designed to protect the film crew. This new icy landscape is the Battle of Hoth. It opposes the Rebel Alliance against the Empire. But before this fight, Luke Skywalker faces an abominable snowman. The Battle of Hoth was filmed at the foot of the Hardangerjøkulen glacier. The glacier is protected by a national park. There is not much left of the film sets, just a few rocks that served as background for the rebel forces. You can, however, visit the place with a local guide, and hike across the glacier.
For the second episode of the prequel, the film crew headed to Spain. As a young Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker’s first mission is to protect Senator Padmé Amidala. He escorts her to her home planet, Naboo. The real place of their landing is the grandiose Plaza de España in Sevilla, Spain. With its exceptional dimensions, 500,000 sq ft, of which 200,000 sq ft, is the palace, it is the perfect place to locate the throne room. And the architectural style is also incredible. Built of brick and marble, the palace is decorated with painted ceramic. For the purposes of the film, the square has been changed from a semi-circular space to a circular one. But it is possible to re-enact the scene of the Senator and the Jedi walking under the covered gallery.
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After Spain, the film crew headed to Italy. Since meeting her on Tatooine, Anakin has been secretly in love with Senator Amidala. But she refuses this love, which goes against the Jedi code. After many adventures, Padmé confesses her feelings to him. This love, which will remain secret, is revealed on the shores of Lake Como. This landscape, with its paradise-like appearance, provides our heroes with a little respite. The Villa Balbianello, a Renaissance-style palace, is the gorgeous setting for their wedding. Since then, many couples have chosen to get married at the same location. In the previous episode, it was the sumptuous Reggia Castle of Caserta that served as the palace of Queen Amidala. This palace is the largest royal residence in the world. Anakin, by letting himself be more and more controlled by his feelings, gets closer to the dark side.
In the following episode, Revenge of the Sith, Anakin has become Darth Vader and has chosen a lava planet, Mustafar, as his refuge. It is on this planet that Darth Vader and his Jedi master fight to the death. Images of the molten Etna volcano are used as a background to their duel.
The Star Wars franchise features a wide variety of diverse movie sets, ranging from the desert planet of Tatooine to the lush forest moon of Endor. From the gritty streets of Coruscant to the ice planet of Hoth, each location in the Star Wars galaxy is distinct and offers a unique visual experience for the audience.
Movies have the power to transport us to distant worlds and unique landscapes that we may never have the opportunity to see in person. However, with the rising challenges related to climate change and the importance of low-impact travel, it is now possible to discover these landscapes in a way that is both sustainable and respectful to the environment. Low-impact travel allows us to explore and appreciate these unique environments without leaving a negative impact on them, allowing future generations to also enjoy them. Through low-impact travel, we can discover real-world locations that have been used as filming locations for movies and appreciate the beauty of these landscapes in a responsible way. This approach not only allows us to see the world in a new light but also helps conserve it for future generations to enjoy.
At FlockEO, we have put in place an application that allows you to simulate your travel’s environmental impact. You can use it to design your travel, including transportation, accommodation, and activities, to abide by the principle of low-impact travel. You can also contact our network of FlockEO partners, who are striving to transform the tourism industry and lead the change toward sustainability.