Star Wars fan does something about those deteriorating Tunisia sets

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2012

If you've got money for a plane ticket, you can actually make a Jedi's pilgrimage to the original Tatooine set of Star Wars. The buildings have been sitting in a Tunisia desert for three and half decades accumulating a lot of wear and tear, and when one devoted fan decided it was time to fix them, he found quite a few other fans were willing to chip in.

The Tunisia set built as the farm of Luke Skywalker's Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru was left in the desert after filming completed, and has since become a popular destination for Star Wars superfans. Mark Cox, a 35-year-old insurance worker from southeast England, visited the site in 2010 and married his wife Sarah there.

When they made the trip to tie the knot, the couple noticed that the set was a little worse for wear. No one had made an effort to maintain the Tatooine homestead in the last 35 years, and Mark and Sarah decided it was time someone did. Upon returning to England they started a Facebook page to raise funds for the effort, and a year later they had $11,700 from more than 400 donors.

"It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," Mark said. "But it was so humbling that people had trusted us with the money to do the work, and that they so wanted to help us."

The restoration work was originally supposed to be completed last year, but the Arab Spring uprisings in the region forced Cox to postpone the trip. This year, a crew of six made the journey and spent four days making repairs to the set in 120-degree heat with the help of local workers.

"It's just captivating - there's nothing there," Cox said. "It really feels like you are actually there in the film, and when you watch the sun set it is amazing."

Footage of the effort was filmed for a future DVD release, and Cox also noted he's writing a book about the experience. Both the book and the film documenting the restoration will be used to raise funds for future repairs to the set.

"Now that we've done the work, we hope people will be able to go there and have those memories again," Cox said. "It's been my moment of fame, and I've had so many messages of thanks since I got back."

It's always great when a fan is willing to take on the responsibility of keeping something they love alive. We can't help but wonder what George Lucas himself might think of this effort.

(Via Norwich Evening News 24)

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