Morocco: The “Hollywood of the Desert”

  Most people may not have heard of Ouarzazate in Morocco, but if you have watched movies such as “Game of Thrones”, “Cleopatra”, “Gladiator”, you will not be unfamiliar with it. These familiar films were shot in Ouarzazate.
  Ouarzazate is located in south-central Morocco, bordering the Atlas Mountains in the northwest and the Sahara Desert in the southeast. There are many Saharan-style dwellings in this city, which resemble castles in shape and are hand-built from local red clay, which looks simple and remote.
  Ouarzazate is small in size, and apart from a few main roads, there are few decent roads. But it is such a small town that is only counted as a county-level town in China, but it is gradually building itself into a “film holy land”.
  The first to discover here was the British director David Lean. In the early 1960s, when Lean was looking for a filming location for “Lawrence of Arabia”, he discovered the village of Ait Benhaddou, west of Ouarzazate. This thousand-year-old village is located on a hillside, with the continuous Atlas Mountains on one side and the endless Sahara Desert on the other. Both the topography and the cultural customs are unforgettable.
  With the success of the movie “Lawrence of Arabia”, the village of Ait Benhaddou became famous all at once, and soon attracted big and famous directors from Hollywood and Europe. Since then, “Marco Polo”, “Life at Dawn”, “Love in the Sahara”, “The Mummy” and “Babel Tower” have successively come to this small village for filming.
  Smelling business opportunities, businessmen began to build a film and television city around Ouarzazate. Today, the “Atlas Film and Television City” is the largest and most popular. Movies such as “Cleopatra”, “Star Wars” and “Prince of Persia” have been filmed here. According to the staff, after the filming is completed, many scenes have been preserved relatively completely, which can not only be used by the crew in the future, but also be used as a scenic spot to promote the development of local tourism.
  Indeed, entering the Atlas Film and Television City, ancient palaces, Egyptian temples, medieval streets, etc., can make people quickly recall those familiar movie scenes. Although these scenes are artificially built, if you don’t distinguish them carefully, it will give people the illusion of walking into history.
  As Ouarzazate became more and more famous, this small town gradually became known as “Moroccan Hollywood”, and the best film school in North Africa is also located here. Today, film has become a pillar industry in Ouarzazate, not only creating countless job opportunities, but also allowing it to have roads and airports-a rarity in desert areas.
  Except for Ouarzazate, the most dazzling “film holy place”, it can be said that the whole of Morocco is like a natural filming location, and many cities have appeared in familiar films.
  In “Sex and the City”, the four heroines went to the old city of Marrakech in Morocco. This old city is like the scene depicted in “Arabian Nights”, with winding and dense streets, many shops, and various dwellings. Even if tourists get lost, they are reluctant to walk out of those charming alleys.
  The picture of the protagonist chasing on the roof of the ancient city in “Bourne Shadow 3” is taken from the ancient city of Tangier in northern Morocco. Tangier used to be a place where agents from various countries often met in the 1950s, and it was also a hiding place for many celebrities. Coupled with the distinctive Arabian architecture, it naturally became the best location for spy films. James Bond in “007: Spectre” also visited Tangier to find the answers he wanted.
  In addition, the seaside town of Essaouira is an important filming location for “Game of Thrones” in Morocco. In the play, the Mother of Dragons arrives in Astapor, buys the Unsullied to expand her army, and gives an exciting speech, which was filmed here. Essaouira has ancient city gates, old piers, old markets, old castles, blue fishing boats, white houses…it is like a medieval oil painting.
  In addition to Western blockbusters, Chinese people are probably most familiar with the movie “Operation Red Sea”. Many important scenes in this movie were also shot in Morocco.
  Morocco has not only bustling metropolises like Marrakech and Casablanca, but also psychedelic towns full of North African flavors like Fez and Chefchaouen. The country’s long daylight hours also give filmmakers more time to shoot. In addition, Morocco’s geographical environment is impermanent and diverse, from the west to the Atlantic Ocean and the Sahara, which also brings more possibilities for film framing.
  The relatively low local labor force and various preferential policies for film and television crews have also greatly reduced the cost of filming. The Moroccan government also spares no effort in the promotion of films. It is understood that the Marrakech International Film Festival opened in 2001 is the largest film festival in Morocco, and its popularity has become higher and higher. Every year, the Marrakech International Film Festival will choose a film from a certain country as the theme to pay tribute to the world’s film industry.
  It’s no wonder that so many movies are shot and shot in Morocco, and it’s no wonder that this North African country can become the “Hengdian of the World”.

error: Content is protected !!