Save the Lars Homestead
Back in May a team of pioneers set off for Tunisia; their goal, to restore Star Wars' Lars Homestead set back to its on-screen glory and preserve the site for future generations of tourists. The Lars Homestead is one of the most iconic landmarks in the St
The Lars Homestead scenes were shot between two locations then edited together to make them appear as one. The below-ground scenes were shot at the Sidi Driss hotel, which has kept all the set decorations put in place by Lucasfilm but still serves as a functioning, and therefore well maintained, hotel. The restoration project took place at the second set, nicknamed The Igloo, where the above-ground scenes were filmed. This location is way out in the Chott el Jerid salt flats and the harsh weather conditions there had rapidly deteriorated the building since filming for Attack of The Clones finished in 2000. The book documents the team’s journey, from acquiring the various permissions needed to carry out the work, through a day-by-day diary of the restoration process itself, which took place over just four days in July 2012. The money for the project was raised from Star Wars fans’ contributions and every person who donated is named at the back of the book.
The book itself takes the format of a published photo blog. Each day’s events are summed up neatly in just a few paragraphs on the chapter’s opening page, the rest of the chapter is then filled with stunning photographs taken by the team’s photographer, Michel Verpoorten. The text is similar to that of a blog; it feels personal and conversational rather than purely factual. In fact, the whole thing feels as if you’re reading your friend’s travel blog. The book is also limited to following the team’s activities so if you’re looking for information on the filming of Star Wars in Tunisia or details of the set building by Lucasfilm you won’t find them here. Unfortunately the rush to get the book published has meant that quite a few grammatical and spelling errors have been allowed to slip through — the book could probably have used a thorough editorial read-through, however the conversational style of the writing means that these don’t grate the way they would in a book that has been released by a major publisher.
The real worth of the book is in the photographs. Michel Verpoorten is a professional photographer and his work here is absolutely stunning, documenting the team’s trip and the construction work in glorious detail. From sunsets over the desert to the guys fast asleep on the plane home, every aspect is covered and looks truly amazing. The photos are laid out in a similar manner to the type of photo books you may have created and had printed yourself; intimate detail shots are clustered together on single pages while large landscapes are displayed spectacularly over one- and two-page spreads allowing you to fully appreciate every last high-resolution detail. The mix keeps the book interesting and the amazing colors add the finishing touch — the whole thing is a visual treat, especially for film fans who will delight in seeing the real life locations captured so beautifully.
Along with restoring the Lars Igloo, the team also had time for a little sight seeing, which has been included in the book. The sights they visited include the Jebel Krefane mountain range (now nicknamed Star Wars Canyon, as it has been the location of both the Tuskan Raider attack in A New Hope and Indiana Jones’ faux attempt to blow up the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of The Lost Ark), the exterior of Mos Eisley Cantina and the Star Wars junk shop, a real-life Watto’s junkyard. The descriptions of all the places the team visited have even made me interested in taking one of the sightseeing tours to Tunisia run by team member Mark Dermul. On their way home the team had the chance to spot one last location, the fisherman’s house that was briefly the hermitage of Old Ben Kenobi. This building is now crumbling away and the team jokingly suggested that perhaps they have located their next project. Although the suggestion was laughed off in exhaustion at the time, who knows what the sands of Tunisia might have in their future?
By Sophie Brown