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15 Star Wars Movie Locations You Can Actually Visit

Most of the Star Wars saga was filmed on various sets and soundstages, but occasionally, the people at Lucasfilm traveled to locations around the world in order to bring the "galaxy far, far away” to life. Here are 15 Star Wars movie locations you can actually visit.

1. Death Valley National Park // California

George Lucas used Death Valley National Park for pickup shots after shooting in Tunisia for A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. The area between Sierra Nevada and the Mojave Desert, along with Tunisia, were used to make the desert planet of Tatooine come to life, most notably in the scene when Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) meets Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), C-3PO, and R2-D2 for the first time. For Return of the Jedi, Twenty Mule Team Canyon in Death Valley was used to film the scene in which C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) travel to Jabba's Palace.

2. Hardangerjøkulen Glacier // Norway

The snowy opening battle scene on the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back was filmed on the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, the sixth largest in Norway. The small railroad town of Finse sits at the foot of Hardangerjøkulen.

3. Finse // Norway

Finse, Norway, which is located between Oslo and Bergen, was used as the Rebel Alliance’s Echo Base on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. While shooting in 1979, a snowstorm hit the small town, allowing director Irvin Kershner to shoot two key scenes: Luke Skywalker's escape from the Wampa cave, as well as the young hero's interaction with the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi before he is rescued by Han Solo (Harrison Ford). Both scenes were shot just outside of the Finse 1222 Hotel.

4. Grindelwald // Switzerland

Most of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were shot at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney using Chroma key (green screen) technology. However, creator George Lucas would occasionally send crews out to capture scenery in various locations around the world for the plate photography used in background shots. 

One of the real-life places shot for Revenge of the Sith was the beautiful mountain range of Grindelwald, Switzerland, which was used as the backdrop for the planet Alderaan, Princess Leia’s homeworld.

5. Ajim // Tunisia

George Lucas used various locations around Tunisia to film exteriors for the desert planet Tatooine, most notably the ferry port town of Ajim. The town was used for the exteriors of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s home, which was actually an old mosque, and the Mos Eisley Spaceport in A New Hope.  

6. The Hôtel Sidi Driss // Matmata, Tunisia

The Hôtel Sidi Driss in Matmata, Tunisia was used as the Lars homestead (Luke Skywalker’s childhood home) in A New Hope. The hotel consists of five pits, four reserved for lodging and sleeping, while one has been dubbed the “Star Wars pit.” Guests can dine in the Lars family dining room, now the hotel’s restaurant. The set dressings were removed after filming in 1976, but returned in the year 2000 in order to film scenes for Attack of the Clones. Ever since, the decorations have remained. Fittingly, the hotel’s nickname is the "Star Wars hotel."

7. Tikal // Guatemala

In A New Hope, George Lucas used ancient Mayan ruins, located in Guatemala's Tikal National Park, as the exterior of the Rebel Alliance’s Massassi outpost on the fourth moon of Yavin. Lucas picked the location after he saw it on a poster at a travel agency when he was filming in London, England. 

8. Yuma Desert // Arizona

Instead of returning to Tunisia, Lucasfilm filmmakers and producers picked Buttercup Valley in the Yuma Desert to shoot the Sarlacc Pit sequence in Return of the Jedi. Jabba's Sail Barge and Sarlacc Pit took more than five months to build, and more than 5,500 cast and crew members lodged in Yuma, Arizona during filming in 1982.   

9. The Villa del Balbainello // Lenno, Italy

The Lake Retreat where Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) go into hiding in Attack of the Clones is located at the Villa del Balbainello in Lenno, Italy. Originally built in 1787, the villa overlooks Lake Cuomo and served as a monastery before it was turned over to the National Trust of Italy in 1988. Villa del Balbainello makes another appearance at the end of Attack of the Clones as the location for Anakin and Padme’s wedding.

10. Palace of Caserta // Caserta, Italy

 

The Palace of Caserta in southern Italy, just northeast of Napoli, was used to shoot the interiors of the Theed Royal Palace on Naboo in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Originally built for Bourbon King Charles III in the 1750s, the Palace of Caserta is also the largest royal palace in Italy.

11. Phang Nga Bay // Phuket, Thailand

The beautiful island backdrop of Phang Nga Bay in Thailand was used as plate photography for the planet Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s birthplace, in Revenge of the Sith. For certain scenes, shots of Guilin, China were combined with Phang Nga Bay. 

12. Redwood National and State Parks // California

The filmmakers of Return of the Jedi used Redwood National and State Parks to portray the Forest Moon of Endor, the Ewoks’ homeworld. Several scenes, such as the Speeder Bike Chase and the Ewok Ambush, were shot in the parks’ many redwood groves in Marin County, which is near George Lucas’ home at Skywalker Ranch. 

13. Whippendell Woods // United Kingdom

George Lucas used the Whippendell Woods in two scenes in The Phantom Menace. In the first, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) meet Jar-Jar Binks (Ahmed Best); the other features the Woods as a sacred place for the Jar-Jar Binks' kind, the Gungans. 

14. Seville // Spain

The beautiful Plaza de España in Seville, Spain was used for the exterior of Theed on Naboo in Attack of the Clones. Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala walk through the plaza before the pair go into hiding in the Lake Country. 

15. Mount Etna // Sicily

Although Lucas actually didn’t shoot on Mount Etna, his team used Italy’s most active volcano for plate photography for the epic lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Mount Etna was actually erupting during filming, so Lucas sent a film crew to capture its flowing lava.

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The Princess Ride: Here's What a Princess Bride Theme Park Attraction Might Look Like
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Do you fight the urge to say “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya” when introducing yourself? Have you spent the past 30 years mispronouncing the word “marriage”? If so, you may be a diehard fan of The Princess Bride. The cult film (and the book on which it’s based) has inspired board games, merchandise, and countless pop culture references. Now, two theme park designers from Universal have conceived the inconceivable. As Nerdist reports, Jon Plsek and Olivia West have designed the plans for a hypothetical attraction called “The Princess Ride.

Their idea follows the classic river boat ride structure and adds highlights from the movie around each corner. After watching Buttercup and Wesley’s love story unfold, riders are taken past the Cliffs of Insanity, through the Fire Swamp, and into the Pit of Despair. The climax unfolds at Prince Humperdinck’s castle and leads up to the two protagonists riding off into the sunset. The last thing the passengers see is Miracle Max and Valerie waving goodbye saying, “Hope ya had fun stormin’ the castle!”

The ride’s designers make a living turning stories into thrilling attractions. Plsek works as a concept artist for Universal Creative, the group behind Universal’s theme parks, and West works there as a concept writer. While The Princess Ride was just a fun side project for the pair, it isn’t hard to imagine their ride bringing Princess Bride fans to the parks in real life.

For more of Jon Plesk’s concept rides inspired by classics like Dr. Strangelove (1964) and National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), check out his website.

[h/t Nerdist]

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13 Great Facts About Bad Lieutenant
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Bad Lieutenant can be accused of many things, but one charge you can't level against it is false advertising. Harvey Keitel's title character, whose name is never given, is indeed a bad, bad lieutenant: corrupt, sleazy, drug-addled, irresponsible, and lascivious, all while he's on the job. (Imagine what his weekends must be like!)

Abel Ferrara's nightmarish character study was controversial when it was released 25 years ago today, and rated NC-17 for its graphic nudity (including a famous glimpse at Lil’ Harvey), unsettling sexual violence, and frank depiction of drug use. The film packs a wallop, no doubt. Here's some behind-the-scenes info to help you cope with it.

1. THE PLACID WOMAN WHO HELPS THE LIEUTENANT FREEBASE HEROIN WROTE THE MOVIE.

That's Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who starred in Abel Ferrara's revenge-exploitation thriller Ms. 45 (1981) more than a decade earlier, when she was 17 years old. She and Ferrara are credited together for writing Bad Lieutenant, though she always insisted that wasn't the case. "I wrote this alone," she said. "Abel is a wonderful director, but he's not a screenwriter." She said elsewhere that she "wrote every word of that screenplay," though everyone agrees the finished movie included a lot of improvisation. Lund was a fascinating, tragic character herself—a musical prodigy who became an enthusiastic and unapologetic user of heroin before switching to cocaine in the mid-1990s. She died of heart failure in 1999 at age 37.

2. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN WAS SUPPOSED TO STAR IN IT.

Christopher Walken had starred in Ferrara's previous film, King of New York (1990), and was set to play the lead in Bad Lieutenant before pulling out at almost the last minute. Ferrara was shocked. "[Walken] says, 'You know, I don't think I'm right for it.' Which is, you know, a fine thing to say, unless it's three weeks from when you're supposed to start shooting," Ferrara said. "It definitely caught me by surprise. It put me in terminal shock, actually." Harvey Keitel replaced him (though not without difficulty; see below), and the film's editor, Anthony Redman, thought Keitel was a better choice anyway. "Chris is too elegant for the part," he said. "Harvey is not elegant." 

3. HARVEY KEITEL'S INITIAL REACTION TO THE SCRIPT WAS NOT PROMISING.

"When we gave [Keitel] the script the first time, he read about five pages and threw it in the garbage," Ferrara said. Keitel's recollection was a little more diplomatic. As he told Roger Ebert, "I read a certain amount of pages and I put it down. I said, 'There's no way I'm gonna make this movie.' And then I asked myself, 'How often am I a lead in a movie? Read it, maybe I can salvage something from it …' When I read the part about the nun, I understood why Abel wanted to make it."

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY.


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

"It was always, in my mind, a comedy," Ferrara said. He cited the scene where the Lieutenant pulls the teenage girls over as a specific example of how Christopher Walken would have played it, and how Harvey Keitel changed it. "The lieutenant was going to end up dancing in the streets with the girls as the sun came up. They'd be wearing his gun belt and hat, and they'd have the radio on, you know what I mean? But oh my God, Harvey, he turned it into this whole other thing." Boy, did he. 

5. THAT SCENE WITH THE TEENAGE GIRLS HAD A REAL-LIFE ELEMENT THAT MADE IT EVEN CREEPIER.

One of the young women was Keitel's nanny. Ferrara: "I said, 'You sure you want to do this with your babysitter?' He says, 'Yeah, I want to try something.'"

6. MUCH OF IT WAS FILMED GUERRILLA-STYLE.

Like many indie-minded directors of low-budget films, Ferrara didn't bother with permits most of the time. "We weren't permitted on any of this stuff," editor Anthony Redman admitted. "We just walked on and started shooting." For the scene where a strung-out Lieutenant walks through a bumpin' nightclub, they sent Keitel through an actual, functioning club during peak operating hours.

7. A GREAT DEAL OF THE DIALOGUE AND ACTION WERE MADE UP ON THE FLY.

The script was only about 65 pages at first, which would have made for about a 65-minute movie. "It left a lot of room for improvisation," producer Randy Sabusawa said, "but the ideas were pretty distilled. They were there."

Script supervisor Karen Kelsall said supervising the script was a challenge. "Abel didn't stick to a script," she said. "Abel used a script as a way to get the money to make a movie, and then the script was kind of—we called it the daily news. It changed every day. It changed in the middle of scenes." Ferrara was unapologetic about the script's brevity. "The idea of wanting 90 pages ... is ridiculous."

8. AND THERE WERE EVEN MORE IDEAS THAT THEY DIDN'T USE.

Ferrara said a scene that epitomized the movie for him—even though he never got around to filming it—was one where the Lieutenant robs an electronics store, leaves, then gets a call about a robbery at the electronics store. He responds in an official capacity (they don't recognize him), takes a statement, walks out, and throws the statement in the garbage. "And that to me is the Bad Lieutenant, you know?" Ferrara said. 

9. THE BASEBALL PLAYOFF SERIES IS FICTIONAL.

The Mets have battled the Dodgers for the National League championship once, in 1988. (The Dodgers beat 'em and went on to win the World Series.) For the narrative Ferrara wanted—the Mets coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the pennant—he had to make it up. He used footage from real Mets-Dodgers games (including Darryl Strawberry's three-run homer from a game in July 1991) and added fictional play-by-play. But the statistics were accurate: No team had ever been down by three in a best-of-seven series and then come back to win. (It's happened once since then, when the 2004 Red Sox did it.)

10. THEY HAD HELP FROM THE COP WHO SOLVED A SIMILAR CASE.

The disgusting crime at the center of the film (we won't dwell on it) was inspired by a real-life incident from 1981, which mayor Ed Koch called "the most heinous crime in the history of New York City." The street cop who solved it, Bo Dietl, advised Ferrara on the film and had an on-screen role as one of the detectives in our Lieutenant's circle of friends.

11. THEY DESECRATED THE CHURCH AS RESPECTFULLY AS THEY COULD.

Production designer Charles Lagola had his team cover the church’s altar and other surfaces with plastic wrap, then painted the graffiti and other defacements on the plastic.

12. IT WAS RATED NC-17 IN THEATERS, WITH AN R-RATED VERSION FOR HOME VIDEO.

Blockbuster and some of the other retail chains wouldn't carry NC-17 or unrated films, so sometimes studios would produce edited versions. (See also: Requiem for a Dream.) The tamer version of Bad Lieutenant was five minutes and 19 seconds shorter, with parts of the rape scene, the drug-injecting scene, and much of the car interrogation scene excised.

13. THE "SEQUEL" HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, NOR DID FERRARA APPROVE OF IT.


First Look International

Movie buffs were baffled in 2009, when Werner Herzog directed Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage. It sounds like a sequel (or a remake), but in fact had no connection at all to the earlier film except that both were produced by Edward R. Pressman. Herzog said he'd never seen Ferrara's movie and wanted to change the title (Pressman wouldn't let him); Ferrara, outspoken as always, initially wished fiery death on everyone involved. Ferrara and Herzog finally met at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where Herzog initiated a conversation about the whole affair and Ferrara expressed his frustration cordially. 

Additional sources:
DVD interviews with Abel Ferrara, Anthony Redman, Randy Sabusawa, and Karen Kelsall.

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