Seville and the Star Wars Saga
The Plaza de España is one of Seville’s major landmarks, along with the Cathedral and the Golden Tower (Torre del Oro) and is listed as a Cultural Interest Site. It was designed by Aníbal González as part of the María Luisa Park, chosen as the fairgroundfor the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition. It is the largest open square in Seville and was designed in the Regionalist style in predominantly brick and ceramic.
Naboo? A District in Seville?
In Episode II: Attack of the Clones, (2002), the monumental Plaza de España was transformed into Theed, the capital of Naboo, the planet ruled by Queen Amidala. In the famous scene in the galactic movie, Anakin and Amidala talk about their relationship while strolling through the square. Naturally, in post-production, the classical tiles depicting the regions of Spain were removed.
Truth be told, it was merely a two-minute scene, and not a crucial one in the film. But, that matters little. The fact is that the peerless beauty of the Plaza de España was enough to captivate George Lucas and persuade him to shoot a scene there with two of the leading stars in the saga. And, naturally, the endearing droid, R2-D2, was also included.
The shoot took place in September 2000 and was completed in practically two days, long enough to create upheaval in Seville after a legion of actors, producers, technicians and others descended on the city, joined by thousands of onlookers and those jostling to secure a part as extras in the legendary galactic saga. In the end, only some 50 privileged people were selected as extras, by which they managed to become immortalised as citizens of Naboo strolling through the square.
Seville – A Film Set
The Plaza de España has also featured in other films, including Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Dictator (2012). However, there are also other monuments that have become enshrined on the big screen for posterity, serving as backdrops for such stars as Tom Cruise, or characters like Captain Alatriste. But, what did George Lucas, Ridley Scott or Agustín Díaz Yanes see in Seville that prompted them to choose it as a set for their movies? The city’s cultural and urbanistic wealth, its cuisine, good communications network, excellent climate and plethora of leisure offerings are not only ideal for filming, but also for a getaway at any time of the year.
The Reales Alcázares are yet another frequent backdrop in the city’s film history, having acted as a splendid setting for such movies as Reds, by Warren Beatty, Alatriste, by Agustín Díaz Yanes and 1492: Conquest of Paradise, by Ridley Scott, who also directed Kingdom of Heaven there. It is the oldest royal palace still in current use in Europe. Peter I commissioned its building in the 14th century and its interior houses vestiges of the three most prominent cultures in the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages – Jewish, Arab and Christian.
Other Seville landmarks that have been immortalised in filmmaking include the Cathedral, built over a former mosque and the third largest church in Christendom, in addition to La Giralda, the Indies Archive and the Santa Cruz District. These buildings, sited in the old city, formed the backdrop to Knight and Day, a heady movie directed by James Mangold, featuring Tom Cruise and Cameron Díaz fleeing from their enemies on motorbike. The same set was used for several scenes in the Spanish film, Nadie conoce a nadie, by Mateo Gil, starring Eduardo Noriega, Jordi Mollà and Natalia Verbeke. Lastly, and also within the world of Spanish cinema, we have Carmen, whose main star is Paz Vega. In this movie, the scenes in the tobacco factory were shot in the present-day Seville University Rectorate. The building is well worth visiting. Erected in the 18th century, it is second in size only to El Escorial in all of Spain.
Make haste to relive those moments in cinema history. And, now that we are graced with the premiere of Episode VII: The Force Awakens, what better way to pay tribute to the saga by visiting the stunning setting of one of its films? Come to Seville with Vueling and may the force be with you!
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación
Images by Turismo de Sevilla
Turin for Film Lovers
It was a film that led me to Turin. I was stunned by a giant edifice topped by a spire which towered over the city. It was the Mole Antonelliana, a vivid name alluding to both its blunt presence and its designer, Alessandro Antonelli, who had initially conceived of it as a synagogue. I discovered it in a humble but significant independent film entitled Dopo Mezzanotte (After Midnight), by Davide Ferrario, who lives in the city and has shot many of his films there. It is a hymn to cinema, a passion triangle with the action set in the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, which has been housed in the Mole since 2000. With an area of 3,200 square metres, it is the largest in Europe dedicated to “the Seventh Art”. It is a highly original, spectacular exhibition, both for its location and the layout of its collections, including pre-cinematographic devices, magic lanterns, and both old and modern stage items – notably masks from Star Wars and Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, Superman’s cloak and Marilyn Monroe’s bodice. It is actually one of the most frequented museums in Italy, quite a feat in a country with such a rich history and art heritage. It is also the site of the Turin Film Festival, next slated for 20 to 28 November, which has featured such filmmakers as Nanni Moretti, Gianni Amelio and Paolo Virzi.
The City that Bewitched Risi, Tornatore and Argento
The fact that Turin was Italy’s first capital is evident in its cinema, from Neorealism to erotic comedies, with a profusion of such explicit detective films as Double Game, Black Turin and Torino, centrale del vizio. It was in Turin that the master of horror movies and self-confessed lover of the city, Dario Argento, shot several scenes from one of his first hits, The Cat o' Nine Tails. He went on to film in their entirety his latest works, Do You Like Hitchcock?, Sleepless (Non ho sonno) and Giallo.
The city of the Juventus and Torino football clubs, the annual contenders at the “Derby della Mole”, is also an obligatory stop on the journeys depicted in the perennial classics. Enrico Loverso emigrates from the poor south to the Turinese industrial north in The Way We Laughed (Così ridevano) by Gianni Amelio. In Everybody's Fine (Stanno tutti bene), by Giuseppe Tornatore, an elderly, splendid Marcello Mastroianni visits his adult children distributed across Italy and finds the last of them – of course – in Turin. And, the irascible blind captain played by Vittorio Gassman sets off from Turin station in Scent of a Woman, directed by Dino Risi (the remake, with Al Pacino, came years later). Risi also happened to make his cinema debut in the same Alpine city, when he was assistant director during the shoot of Piccolo mondo antico (Little Ancient World), and it was there, too, that he one night declared his eternal love to the stunning actress, Alida Valli, while they were sitting in a carriage in the rain, in the romantic, lush gardens of the Parco Valentino.
The Setting for Robberies and Spies in American Movies
In The Pink Panther 2, with Steve Martin, one of the city’s most prized treasures is stolen – no less than the Turin Shroud. However, the film that has probably set Turin most on the map is the 1969 cult movie, The Italian Job, by Peter Collinson (which has seen a recent remake). In it, Michael Caine flees with his loot from the carabinieri in his Mini Coopers, through the Palazzo Carignano, along the inner staircases of the Palazzo Madama and around the exterior of the Gran Madre di Dio Church, skidding through the glamorous Galleria San Federico shopping centre, and driving over the flared roof of the Palazzo a Vela, built for the Italia 61 Exhibition and refurbished as a sports centre for the 2006 Winter Olympics. He also drives up the heady oval test track on the old FIAT factory – the city’s veritable economic driving force for decades – housed in the Lingotto building, now a multidisciplinary space for trade fairs and festivals. In his final getaway, his Minis reach the nearby Alps, the formidable mountain range which acts as the backdrop for this stunning city, after having crossed the river Po.
And, opposite the Po stands the majestic Piazza Vittorio Veneto, which appears in The Bourne Ultimatum, a saga starring Matt Damon. However, the café where we later see the fired up secret agent sitting is actually in Madrid! The fact is that the film crew were back working in Spain when a change to the script forced them to repeat the shoot of the scene originally filmed in Turin. The magic of cinema always involves some hidden devices!
If you fancy seeing the city for yourself, secure your ticket here!