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A Historic Restoration Project In A Galaxy Far, Far Away
July 8, 2012 9:42 PM   Subscribe

After leading several expeditions into Tunisia to visit the filming locations for Tatooine landmarks, tour guide Mark Dermul was dismayed by the state of the Owen Lars homestead. A joke about restoring it turned into serious thought which led to fundraising and planning and delays due to social unrest, and finally in June, the "Igloo" was restored to its former glory.
posted by hippybear (40 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
And Star Wars is a religion.
posted by grobstein at 9:54 PM on July 8, 2012


#firstworldproblem
posted by astapasta24 at 9:58 PM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Some first world citizens go to Africa to build homes for people without homes. Others go to Africa to... do this...
posted by gonna get a dog at 10:06 PM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


gonna get a dog: "Some first world citizens go to Africa to build homes for people without homes. Others go to Africa to... do this..."

Let's not do this in this thread, please.
posted by schmod at 10:11 PM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Worse, it's the Prequel house, I believe, from the beloved Attack of The Clones.
I also believe that the original house from the 1977 film was (and may still be) occupied by a family.
posted by Mezentian at 10:15 PM on July 8, 2012


Let's not do this in this thread, please.

Heaven forbid that somewhere a nerd's feelings get hurt.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:15 PM on July 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


Heaven forbid that somewhere a nerd's feelings get hurt.

I'll get the obligatory out of the way:
Good. Good. Let the hate flow through you!

On the face of it, this is seemingly a waste of time, but if there's one thing Star Wars fans might want to do, it's see the Lars Homestead. And actual thing you can touch.
So, for a small investment, this night help tourism, and the Tunisian people.

After all, who was the last person you can remember who went to Tunisa for a holiday? Pandora?
I'll bet it was.
posted by Mezentian at 10:21 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Luke just wanted that place blasted to bits and let the sands cover the debris. Now these madmen make a shrine out of where he saw his caretakers' charred corpses.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:25 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Worse, it's the Prequel house

It's actually the same location. The original house -- unlike many other Tatooine locations, such as the below-ground hotel which served as the "crater" portion of the homestead, which was a long way away -- was just a set that was partly destroyed for ANH, then rebuilt for AOTC, per various sites. When you see it in stills it really looks like it's at 80% scale or something.

It's not an historic or any other kind of house. It's just a fiberglass shell.

Since Star Wars tourism is probably a big contributor to the local economy, I'm sure it's helping them at least indirectly.
posted by dhartung at 10:42 PM on July 8, 2012


Some first world citizens go to Africa to build homes for people without homes. Others go to Africa to... do this...

Because spending thousands of dollars so that you can go to Africa and work for free as essentially unskilled labour, in a place where 1/3rd of the population is living on $1 dollar a day, is not at all an absurd vanity.
posted by Grimgrin at 10:42 PM on July 8, 2012 [19 favorites]


After all, who was the last person you can remember who went to Tunisia for a holiday?

I guess we travel in different circles.

Anyway, sure, why not. Go to Tunisia for the Owen Lars homestead, stick around for the incredible malouf music, the Great Mosque of Kairouan, the Arab Andalusian Music Festival, the Ksar Ouled Debbab, the ruins in Dougga, the Ksar Ghilane oasis...
posted by mykescipark at 10:49 PM on July 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


Because spending thousands of dollars so that you can go to Africa and work for free as essentially unskilled labour, in a place where 1/3rd of the population is living on $1 dollar a day, is not at all an absurd vanity.

If you'd actually have read the website... *ahem*

Day 4
The meeting with Mr Slimén went smooth. They took him to the site, which is about 9 kilometers outside of Nefta, so that the local contractor could make his own assessment of materials and tools needed. When he told the Saviours that they should have no trouble getting the job done in four days with three local builders – which he would provide, of course – they drove back to Nefta. While Mr Slimén got all the materials and tools together, already lending a few to the team on the spot, a new appointment was made for 7pm to negotiate the terms.
Day 6
Mark Cox and Robert dusted off the igloo in preparation of the first layer of cement. They gave it a try, but Ali, one of the local builders, shook his head and took over. They know that stuff so much better than the Saviours did. With precision and skill, Ali, Kasem and Abdellatif mixed the cement and applied the protective layer around the base of the homestead. It did not take long for it to dry, with the temperatures slowly but surely climbing back into the low thirties (Celsius, that is!).
A local contractor was hired, local labor was used, and they did it with a lot more expertise than the people who were putting together the project.
posted by hippybear at 10:59 PM on July 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you'd actually have read the website... *ahem*

Grimgrin was responding to gonna get a dog, who was suggesting that going to Africa to build homes is a more worthwhile pursuit than rebuilding the Lars igloo, to which Grimgrin says, and I paraphrase, "Yeah, like that's not just as absurd when you think about it."

If you'd actually have read the comment... *ahem*

Teasing.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:06 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess we travel in different circles.

This is almost certain. I do know a lot of people who have gone there for work, though.

But the Pandora joke was a smidge obscure.
posted by Mezentian at 11:22 PM on July 8, 2012


Because spending thousands of dollars so that you can go to Africa and work for free as essentially unskilled labour, in a place where 1/3rd of the population is living on $1 dollar a day, is not at all an absurd vanity.

Hah, I'm not defending that form of absurdity, I'm attacking Star Wars nerd absurdity. Obviously.

The post is a honeypot designed to attract that particular species, and you my friend have taken the sticky, sticky bait.

Or as you would say, "it's a trap!"
posted by gonna get a dog at 12:17 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


what is the difference between this and Detroit Needs Robocop

uhhh i mean uh fuckin nerds!
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:20 AM on July 9, 2012


I guess we travel in different circles.

Anyway, sure, why not. Go to Tunisia for the Owen Lars homestead, stick around for the incredible malouf music, the Great Mosque of Kairouan, the Arab Andalusian Music Festival, the Ksar Ouled Debbab, the ruins in Dougga, the Ksar Ghilane oasis...


For probably the first time in my internet usage my immediate and honest reaction to a post was "oh god, hipsters".

Like, I guess I have cooler friends than you. You could go to some of the music festivals we're into, but you've probably never heard of them.
posted by Winnemac at 12:25 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


["I think people who are doing [Post Topic] should do something else instead" is not really a great way to participate here; those who are uninterested in the actual subject should probably find a discussion that appeals more instead of derailing this one.]
posted by taz at 12:54 AM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


...a veritable tour the force of Star Wars fandom.

I can't decide if that's a misspelling or not.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:16 AM on July 9, 2012


Tunisia may not be visited much by American tourists, but it's a common holiday place for Europeans and North African tourists. The main Tunisian tourist attractions are Tunis, Jerba and the sea resorts, but the government developed sarahan tourism in the 90s and the Star Wars locations are featured prominently in the desert tours, and not just for the nerds. Here's an example (text in French, scroll down to Ksar Hadada and Matmata). The Tunisian tourist industry has been struggling since the Arab Spring (it's getting better) so whatever can help them is good.
posted by elgilito at 2:51 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Winnemac: "oh god, hipsters".
Or, you know, Europeans. From my local airport there are two flights a week to Tunis. A return ticket can be as little 290 USD. It used to be quite popular before the revolution; I think it's picking up again. At least there were quite a few sold-out departures when I checked just now.

Besides, i don't think anybody goes to Tunisia to build huts out of (misguided) charity. Africa, despite what some in this thread seem to think, is not a single country. It's fucking huge and diverse.
posted by brokkr at 2:54 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


After all, who was the last person you can remember who went to Tunisa for a holiday? Pandora?
I'll bet it was.


Hahaha. No kidding, for the longest time that was the only reason I knew Tunisia existed.
posted by dumbland at 3:16 AM on July 9, 2012


gonna get a dog: "Some first world citizens go to Africa to build homes for people without homes. Others go to Africa to... do this..."

Because what, Africa, you know the single country, needs first world citizens to spend thousands of dollars on plane tickets so they can spend a few weeks building homes?

Even in places with housing shortages, there really arn't shortages of the skilled labor needed to build regionally appropriate homes better, more cheaply, and more usefully than any first world tourist could. The best a charity tourist could hope to accomplish is to spend money while they displace local labor and depress wages.

These guys on the other hand are using their skills and dispositions in a way that not only productively employed local workers but also promises to generate lasting income for the community through tourism.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:33 AM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


For probably the first time in my internet usage my immediate and honest reaction to a post was "oh god, hipsters". Like, I guess I have cooler friends than you. You could go to some of the music festivals we're into, but you've probably never heard of them.

I'm terribly sorry that my suggestion of other actual interesting things to do and see in Tunisia while visiting the Star Wars site has caused you such distress.

It is a beautiful country, though.
posted by mykescipark at 3:56 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


While visiting Tunisia you could also run around trying to find the location of the Well of Souls.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:34 AM on July 9, 2012


I've always liked Ewan McGregor's reaction to not being recognized when he visited the Tunisia set in Long Way Down.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:42 AM on July 9, 2012


A local contractor was hired, local labor was used

I think you'll find not one of those workers were actually Sand People.
posted by panboi at 5:23 AM on July 9, 2012


After all, who was the last person you can remember who went to Tunisa for a holiday?

Me, me! I'm actually planning my honeymoon there because, you know, Carthage
posted by Omon Ra at 5:48 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


#firstworldproblem #futureworldproblem

On the one hand, I can get how some people are rolling their eyes at this. I'm not a big Star Wars fan and don't really care about leftover set pieces. But as you can see in the clip above from Long Way Down, those set pieces are big tourist draws; saving them now is a lot cheaper (and more historically accurate) than rebuilding them from scratch later.

So I think this is a neat project, and I think it would be great if over time these guys, or other fans, found the money and time to look at protecting and restoring other key set pieces from this and other movies. What's the harm? It brings pleasure to fans and money to locals, and doesn't hurt curmudgeons like me.
posted by Forktine at 6:13 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always liked Ewan McGregor's reaction to not being recognized when he visited the Tunisia set in Long Way Down

OOOH MAN!! I had no idea he did a follow-up to Long Way Round... I'm super excited to check it out!
posted by odinsdream at 6:19 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


To anyone who leads tour groups to the Tunisian Star Wars sites, pretty please, with sugar on top, please point the customers at the Roman sites while you're there.

Please?
posted by ocschwar at 6:28 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


After all, who was the last person you can remember who went to Tunisia for a holiday?

I went to Tunisia four years ago. I am American. It was the first time I'd left North America since I was a teenager. We went in the winter, so the seaside resorts weren't a consideration. We spent some days wandering around in Tunis and Carthage and took the train to Sfax and El Jem and Tozeur. We saw close to no tourists, and most of them were European; I have never felt so self-conscious about being a pale redhead in my life. Almost no one spoke any English at all, we only knew a few words of French, and needless to say my Arabic is non-existent. However, the people we talked to could not have been more excited to meet Americans (it probably helped that Obama had been elected just a couple of weeks before) and people were by and large unbelievably helpful and friendly. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I admit I do have some regret we didn't take the time to see the Star Wars sites, because I am, after all, a sci fi nerd who grew up in the 80s, and when am I going to be in Tunisia again?

Tunisia is a different place now, no doubt, but I can't recommend it highly enough and it makes me sad (and confused) to see this thread denigrating it as a vacation spot. The culture is deep and ancient and really, the experience is beyond what I can even begin to describe. Omon Ra, hit me up if you need hotel recommendations.
posted by something something at 6:58 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


and it makes me sad (and confused) to see this thread denigrating it as a vacation spot.

I'm not sure how else we (generic we) can discuss it otherwise, without getting bogged down in the Arab Spring stuff (which would be a bigger derail). It is a place we could to, to see some SW history.
posted by Mezentian at 7:10 AM on July 9, 2012


Evading the dreaded Hipster Spoilsportfleet, a group of freedom fans led by tour guide Mark Dermul has established a new secret base in the remote sand world of Tunisia.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:17 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder whether, should an Salafi Islamist government take power in the future, the Star Wars sets would be considered idolatrous,bmuch in the way that the Bamiyan Buddhas and a lot of the artefacts of old Mecca were, on the strength of large numbers of people having claimed to be Jedi in censuses abroad.
posted by acb at 7:42 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find the project charming, and the acknowledgment of the project leaders that really important stuff was happening in Tunisia while they were working on it and that really important stuff was really important ... but they were still worried about the effect on the project, to also be charming. (Self-aware obsessive fans are charming. Non-self-aware fans, less so.)
posted by feckless at 7:50 AM on July 9, 2012


Here I was thinking this was a geeky and cool thing to do. Then I read the thread. GODDAMIT THINK_LONG, NEVER . READ . THE . THREAD!
posted by Think_Long at 8:20 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, it's not the sandpeople I'd worry about. Are they at all prepared for a Krayt Dragon?
posted by newdaddy at 9:35 AM on July 9, 2012


While they were there, couldn't they have found time to put a new motivator in that red R5 unit?
posted by blueberry at 4:17 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have a friend working in Tunisia as a journalist, freelancing for NPR and some podcasts and some newspapers. She went to a press conference about tourism a few weeks ago that opened with the theme from A New Hope. Tourism is a big deal in Tunisia; there have been protests by tourism operators in Tunisia against the lack of security and the negative impacts its having on the livelihoods of a significant portion of the country.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:07 PM on July 9, 2012


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