Soundstage Tunisia

Hollywood’s favorite desert nation, post-revolution.

  1. The best time is sunset. Drive west from Tozeur, Tunisia, past the date palm oasis of Nefta, and you will find the northwestern reach of the Chott El-Jerid—a seasonally dry salt lake that glistens slightly under orange skies. Keep the scrubby dunes and silhouetted dromedaries on your right as you drive straight toward the Algerian border for seven kilometers. Look left across the endless dry lake bed and you can just make out a gleaming white dot against the pinkish gray of the flat. Aim for the dot. Soon enough jeep tracks appear, which you follow over crunchy salt dust to arrive at a small igloo-like structure next to a small, shallow crater. Look familiar?

    If, like probably more than a billion other humans, you’ve seen the 1977 film Star Wars, directed by George Lucas, you’ve seen Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, standing in this very spot, gazing wistfully at the descent of two suns over the desert planet Tatooine. The igloo itself has been recently restored—not by Tunisia’s Min...

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