Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine is as fantastical a setting as you can get, but it’s more than just a dream from the mind of George Lucas: much of it is a reflection of an actual town. Not only did the Tunisian town of Tatouine provide the inspiration for the name for the planet, but the surrounding area provided much of the backdrop for Star Wars.
The region has long been a destination for Star Wars fans looking for a peek at the real world behind the one on screen, but lately the tiny town has become a dangerous destination. Increasingly recognized as an ISIS waypoint, Tatouine is no place for strangers these days, and all but essential travel to the region is recommended against. On March 18, the Bardo museum in the Tunisian capital of Tunis was the site of an attack in which a number of people were killed. As a result, a warning has been issued to tourists traveling in Tunisia by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.” Mos Eisley has been replaced by most deadly, it seems.
The warning mentions the museum attack, adding that “further attacks are possible. You should be especially vigilant at this time and follow the advice of Tunisian security authorities and your tour operator.” Prior to this attack, three men were arrested in Tatouine while attempting to cross the border into Libya. They have since been taken to Tunis for questioning.
“Two arms caches have also been found in the region this month, one of which included rocket-propelled grenade launchers and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition,” CNN reported, adding that they are “thought to have been removed from a Libyan armory in the aftermath of Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster in 2011.”
A total of four Star Wars movies were filmed in Tunisia, though no filming for the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens took place in the the country. Given the current state of the country, it’s understandable why JJ Abrams opted to film in Ireland, the U.K., and Abu Dhabi instead.
Star Wars fans jonesing for the next film are encouraged to skip the trip to Tunisia, and maybe enjoy the following video instead: an impressive, shot-by-shot recreation of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser. It’s amazing not just for the finished product but for ridiculously short turn-around time on producing it. The video was posted on YouTube the same day as the teaser premiered.