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“Tunisia? But wasn’t it Egypt?” A surprise from the title: no scene from the first Indiana Jones film was ever shot in the land of the pyramids. However, this gives us ideas to deepen those places in a small country that has been able to become a real center of Arab and African culture.
Tozeur and surroundings
The scenes in the film in which Indiana Jones is found between the canyons were shot in Sidi Bouhlel, a small village near Tozeur. Given the idyllic relationship between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas (the name “Indiana” comes from the latter’s dog), the place then became the set of Tatooine in the Star Wars saga. A small place that has forever entered the history of cinema.
Also particular is the story of Tozeur who gave birth to Abu l-Qasim As-Shabbi, a historic Tunisian poet who thanks to his verses animated the first anti-colonialist Arab revolts. His poems “To the tyrants of the world” and “The will to live” are legendary, the first is still part of the Tunisian national anthem, the second gave Mohamed Choukri the push to get out of the poverty in which he was immersed. The first example of how Tunisia, perhaps more unexpectedly than others, can surprise.
The rest of the shooting took place in Sedala (a city we could not find) and in Kairouan. Unfortunately, during this part of the shoot, a large part of the cast fell ill due to poor water quality and lack of trust in local doctors. The sweat, however, was rewarded by sublime interpretations. In fact, in Kairouan he played the legendary duel scene with the Arab leader and during the filming Ford had problems with dysentery. These did not cause problems for the scene, however, which was later voted by Playboy as the 5th best ever in the history of cinema.
The city was for centuries the capital of the Ifriqiya province (around modern Tunisia) and for this reason it became over the centuries a real hub of trade. The city’s mosque was the first in all of the Maghreb and for this reason it is remembered with particular affection throughout North Africa. Thanks to the incredible beauty of the building and its history, the city has been included in the UNESCO heritage since 1988, thus showing its charm even beyond the cinema.
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