Thursday, 20 August 2015

Movies & Morocco

Movies and Morocco have been the perfect match for decades with so many blockbusters produced in this country due to the exceptional light, the diversity of the landscapes and the overall low costs. The list includes films like Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars, The Mummy, Alexander, Indiana Jones, Babel, Kingdom of Heaven, Arn, The Bourne Ultimatum, Gladiator, Inception, Mission Impossible and several Bond-movies.

Daniel Craig exploing the souks as 007

Most of these movies were produced in Ouarzazate in western Morocco that has the largest film studio in the world! We went past there on our desert adventure earlier this year and it was indeed an amazing city with with sceneries and film references everywhere. If you're a film buff like us you have to visit this place!

The film city of Ouarzazate is also nicknamed The Door of the Desert due to its location just next to the Sahara.

Some productions are filmed right here in Marrakech though like Sex and the City II and The Man Who Knew Too Much. They actually had a production this spring at our gym for a new BBC-series called The Night ManagerIt is based on a John le Carré novel, directed by Susanne Bier and starring Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston. We managed to catch glimps of the cast in the hall ways for several weeks and we even had a little chat with Hugh Laurie who was very nice.

The film production took over the whole hotel for several weeks.

They changed the hotel name everywhere from "Es Saadi" to "Nefertiti" and placed it in Cairo. This must have confused a lot of guests!

They built up a big set in front of the hotel that was supposed to be the souks.

Also, the Marrakech International Film Festival is soon coming up and we really look forward to this year's edition with the iconic director Francis Ford Coppola as head of the jury! The festival was founded in 2001 by the Moroccan king and during the years a lot of great directors and actors have attended. The 15th birthday will be held between 5 and 13 December and we can't wait to get our hands on some VIP-tickets!

The Marrakech Film Festival has grown for each year and had almost 100 000 admissions in 2013 including 50 000 spectators at the big square Jemaa El-Fna.

Since we just love movies and Patrick worked in the industry for some years, we have tried to see everything that has any connection to Morocco. We thought we'd share some of the best ones that we've found:
Several Moroccan movie nights ahead! Here we go!

A favourite movie of all time is "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956) by Alfred Hitchcock and with James Stewart and Doris Day in the leads. The couple chech in to La Mamounia Hotel and witness a murder at the famous square Jemaa El-Fna.
"Casablanca" (1942) with Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart is our favourite moroccan film of all time. However the whole production was shot at Warner Studios in Burbank, Hollywood.
"Morocco" (1930) with Marlene Dietrich is another favourite film, most famous for the scene when Marlene sings in men's clothes and kisses another girl. It received 4 Academy Award nominations.
"Sex And The City II" (2010) was filmed in Marrakech, but was supposed to be Abu Dhabi. This shop where Carrie is buying shoes is just a couple of streets from our riad!
"Hideous Kinky" (1998) with Kate Winslet in the lead is based on Ester Freud's autobiographic novel and has many beautiful sceneries from Marrakech and all over Morocco.

"Our Man in Marrakech" (1966) is a spy film with a confusing plot but you get to see alot of tourist sites in Marrakech. Like the end scene when they have a big fist fight at Palace El Badi.
"Road to Morocco" (1942) is a comedy with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. It is a simple love story with sheiks, ship wrecks and arabian princesses but it received three Academy Award nominations.
"Absolutely Fabulous" (1994), the British TV-series, made a classic episode when Edina, Patsy and Saffy visit Marrakech for a photo shoot. Patsy sells Saffy for 2000 Dirhams and Edina's dress sence is worse than ever! We can never get tired of re-watching this episode! 
"Yves Saint Laurent" (2014) is a biographical drama film about the designer who fell in love with Marrakech and owned several homes here. This is where the designer found peace and inspiration for his collections. This film includes several beautiful scenes from Marrakech.
"The Sheltering Sky" (1990) is based on a novel by Paul Bowles starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich. It starts out in Tangier and continues in the Saharian desert. The whole film is like a drug fueled hazy dream.
"- Tunner, we're not tourists. We're travelers! 
- Oh. What's the difference? 
- A tourist is someone who thinks about going home the moment they arrive, Tunner. Whereas a traveler might not come back at all."
    -- Dialogue from the opening scene of "The Sheltering Sky". (We are travellers for sure.)

So, hope we have been able to set you up for a few magic movie nights in your home cinemas! 
That's a wrap and here's looking at you kid!

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