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Cnn: 'star Wars': Visit Tatooine, Before It's Swallowed By The Sahara


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Hey TK........if this is on your bucket list you better hurry up. :)




(CNN) -- Deep in Tunisia's Sahara desert is an abandoned settlement, part submerged by the sand, somehow alien, yet strangely familiar.

The surrounding landscape looks like it's from another world, in a galaxy far, far away -- which is why movie director George Lucas chose it as a location for filming parts of his blockbuster "Star Wars" series.

The Tunisian Sahara was transformed into Tatooine -- the barren planet with twin suns that was the birthplace of Anakin Skywalker, otherwise known as Darth Vader. At the Tunisian government's request, the lavish set for Anakin's home town, Mos Espa, remains intact -- a beacon in the desert.

Read more: Stargazing in the desert

The set of 20 buildings, situated northwest of the city of Tozeur, covers an area of around 10,000 square meters and remains a pilgrimage destination for avid "Star Wars" fans from around the world.

Former rally driver Tahar Karya is an expert at tackling the Sahara's sand dunes in his four-by-four. He was George Lucas's personal driver during the filming in Tunisia and has a personal attachment to the set.

He believes that Lucas's decision to use the area in his film was a great boon for the region. "More than 1,500 background actors were employed. Agencies and hotels also benefited," he says. "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."

The crew faced difficulties dealing with the weather in the Sahara. Temperatures reached 135 degrees Fahrenheit (57 C) during filming, then production was slowed by a rare summer rainstorm. Still, facing scheduling and budget constraints, Lucas was able to get the scenes he needed, which appear in "Star Wars" movies "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones."

But for those who want to experience this important piece of film history, time is running out. Although the set has withstood the elements for more than a decade, the desert's sand dunes are moving to engulf the fictional town.

"Ever since they finished the part of the movie shot in 2003, sand dunes have surrounded the film set from every side. They should not have allowed this to happen," says Tahar.

A team of scientists has tracked the movement of a large sand dune, which has already started to cover the set. it is moving at a rate of 4 cm per day and It won't be long before this alien town is buried beneath the sand.

Like any desert Oasis, this one too will soon disappear.

continued at link....








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In 10,000 years, achaeologists will think the Tunisians were "significantly advanced" and wonder at the river that existed in the vast desert which is just actually drool from all the Lucas fans.  Me included.


WHY have I not heard of this place sooner?  Man, I'd love to go. 

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There's a scene in one of Arthur Clarke's 2001 books (I think it's 2063, but not certain), where one of his characters is making a point about how scientists can Get Things Wrong.  And the example he used referred to the famous archaeologist who found some abandoned movie props in the Tunisian desert, and concluded that ancient man had been contacted by a technologically advanced race. 


Ever since I read those lines, I've had this mental image of the stereotypical archeologist:  Khaki clothes, bushy mustache, White helmet, monocle.  Holding up this small gear and saying "Look, sir!  Droids!" 

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