Saturday, March 21, 2009

Star Wars Archaeology







Excerpts from Raiders of the Lost R2 by Jon Mooallem, in Harper's Magazine/March 2009:

For more than a decade, a small sub-culture of fans have been hunting down Star Wars filming locations around the world. Maps and travel guides now circulate on the Internet, as do photos of the landscapes in which the visitors have tried to replicate the exact vantage points used in the films. Often the traveller is in the photo, assuming the exact posture of Anakin or Luke Skywalker. Many of these trips were initially inspired by a 1995 article published in Star Wars Insider, the official Star Wars fan-club magazine. "Return to Tatooine" was the travelogue of Dave West Reynolds, an enterprising fan who journeyed through the sandy outlands of Tunisia, fastidiously tracking down sites that stand in for Luke Skywalker's home planet in the original 1977 film...

Jad [Bean: JadOnTV.com] spent the...week slogging towards various corners of Tatooine [Tunisia]. He recovered a section of rubber trim from the roof of what had been Luke Skywalker's great-uncle's garage in Attack of the Clones. He visited as many as five locations in one day, forming alliances with other Star Wars tourists and hiring flummoxed Tunisian drivers. "It was transformative," he said...
He had financed his trip by selling off his collection of Star Wars toys on eBay, netting $6,000 in three weeks...

David West Reynolds was twenty-seven years old an finishing his Ph.D. in archaeology at the University of Michigan when he began plotting the expedition to Tunisia that he later recorded in "Return to Tatooine," his seminal article in Star Wars Insider. He was accustomed to working at sites where archaeologists were already well entrenched: analyzing pottery shards found at Anasazi ruins in the American Southwest or among the remains of a Toman city. But if he was going to be a successful archaeologist, he reasoned, he should be able to locate sites-any site-on his own. So he challenged himself to find Tatooine, a planet that even within its own made up galaxy was described ad hopelessly remote...
Reynolds left for Tunisia in April of 1995, traveling with a palentologist friend. He approached the trip as he would have any other fieldwork; although whereas an academic might scour a library to assemble reference materials for the trip, Reynolds set up a camera across the room from his television and snapped crude screenshots from his Star Wars laser discs...
On one of his last days in the desert, he combed remote salt flats looking for the exterior of Luke's homestead. At dusk, he found it-the very crater rim where, early in the first film, the farm boy, longing for adventure, watches Tatooine's twin suns set. Reynolds had felt throughout the trip that he was tracing a legitimate history, stalking the spot where Luke Skywalker met Obi-Ean Kenobi, not where Mark Hamill and Alec Guiness traded lines. "It was the first time I was surrounded 360 degrees by Star Wars," he told me. The sandstone igloo in the film was gone, and the sunset he stood watching was one sun short. But still, he said, "I felt like I actually succeeded in stepping up from the seat in the movie theater when I'm an eight-year-old kid and stepping up into the screen. The action has wound down, and Luke and C-3P0 have run off on the landspeeder, and the dust has settled. Or maybe Luke's downstairs asleep, or they've sold the droids and moved on. But I'm still there-on Tatooine."...

One traveler, a thirty-three-year-old southern Californian named Kolby Kirk, later told me, "As a kid, you can only go so far playing with action figures. As an adult, you don't play with action figures anymore. You become the action figure."

Read the full article in this month's Harper's Magazine.
via Lee @ Habit

May the Force be with you.

-- Post From Taxi



1 comment:

Veronicahhh said...

this is so awesome. i kinda want to do this with all of my favorite editorial fashion shoot locations.