It seems like we’ve been writing about Star Wars: Episode VII forever now, and it feels even longer because there’s so little we know about it that’s actually been confirmed. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher are all returning — probably. It’ll introduce their children as major characters — probably. It will involve use of the Force — probably. (Okay, that last one is more of a sure thing.) Well, you can add another detail to the probably pile, because scuttlebutt has it that the Episode VII production is recreating the iconic Tatooine sets in the desert.
The word comes from The Hollywood Reporter, who cite an unnamed source who told them that “J.J. Abrams and Disney are planning to build out an extensive re-creation of Tatooine, the desolate home planet of Luke and Anakin Skywalker, in a Morocco-like environment (the original was built in Tunisia).” Disney apparently wouldn’t comment, but it makes sense. For a desolate backwater world, Tatooine has been a major location in each of the preceding Star Wars trilogies, so it’s not too surprising that the new films might book a return visit. Maybe Luke has moved into Ben’s old shack and taken up the “crazy hermit” gig, just to keep the local Sand People in line.
In more sober Tatooine news, the original Star Wars sets in the Tunisian desert are in trouble. More specifically, they’re in danger from the desert itself. As CNet reports, a “Save Mos Espa” campaign has begun to try and raise money to save the sets before they’re “swallowed by the desert like a sarlacc swallowing a ne’er-do-well bounty hunter.”
How can you help? One of the tourism organizations that’s behind the movement has set up an Indiegogo campaign that you can donate to right here. With 58 days left, it’s so far raised $2,600 of its $45,000 goal, so there’s still plenty of help needed and plenty of time to pitch in. The project has already started digging the sets out from accumulated sand, but it’s only going to get worse as time goes on.
As with any crowdfunding campaign, your donations will earn you various rewards, starting with a “sincere thanks” for $25 and ranging up to getting your name on a commemorative panel near the site for a donation of $1,000 or more.
Work on the site began on March 23, but Nabil Gasmi, a member of one of the involved tourism groups, told Phys.org:
Mos Epsa [sic] is located in a very windy region, threatened by sand dunes which the wind moves by around 15 meters a year. One dune has already buried 10 percent of the site. We managed to remove 8,000 cubic meters of sand in 12 days. Unfortunately some of the set has already collapsed.
Help them, Star Wars fans. You’re their only hope.