September 25, 2012 by Amanda
As early as 1897, filmmakers began taking advantage of Morocco’s unique landscapes and distinctive cities to serve as the backdrops for their films.
French director Louis Lumiere was filming silent classics in this North African country before the year 1900. But it wasn’t until Orson Welles shot his adaptation of “Othello” there in the 1950s that other filmmakers began setting their sights on Morocco, too.
Since then, a host of films — low-budget and blockbuster alike — have cast Morocco in a starring role.
If you’re a movie buff headed to Morocco — whether for a Marrakech holiday or a camel safari in the Sahara — here are some of the sites you’ll want to be sure to keep an eye out for:
This large city, with its long history and famous souks (markets) and Medina, has starred in many a film.
In “Sex and the City 2,” Carrie meets up with old flame Aidan in the Medina. The luxurious Mamounia Gardens hotel in Marrakech has been featured in movies like “Alexander” and Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (the latter also starred the city’s square and souks). Even the musical “Mamma Mia” featured scenes filmed in Marrakech.
Aït Ben Haddou
Ait Ben Haddou, an ancient fortified city near Ouarzazate, has played the backdrop for many movies, including Russel Crowe’s “Gladiator,” “Babel,” and “Lawrence of Arabia.”
The town of Erfoud itself hasn’t appeared in too many films, but the surrounding desert has. The Erg Chebbi Dunes south of Erfoud were used to film all the “Sex in the City 2” desert scenes. And Brendan Fraser’s “The Mummy” was filmed on location in a dormant volcano near Erfoud, where the entire set was constructed.
This northern Moroccan city was used most recently to film several scenes in Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” Scenes from that movie such as the Mombassa chase sequence and the “limbo” city that Leo’s character Cobb creates with his wife were all filmed in Tangiers.
I probably don’t have to explain why Morocco’s largest city made its way onto this list. No, the 1942 Bogey/Bergman classic of the same name wasn’t filmed on location (it was actually shot almost entirely in a studio!) — but that doesn’t stop people from visiting anyway because of the movie.
These of course are only a small taste of the movies shot in Morocco. Other films that have also featured bits of this North African country include:
- “Rules of Engagement”
- “Black Hawk Down”
- “Kingdom of Heaven”
- “The Hills Have Eyes”
- “The Bourne Ultimatum”
It seems if you need a desert scene in your movie, Morocco is a pretty good place to go to film it.
Would any of these films inspire you to visit Morocco?
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