Morocco And The Movie Industry, Should We Be Called Mollywood?

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Do you know how many movies have been made here in Morocco? (around 200) Did you know that we have our own film festival held in Marrakech every year at the beginning of November? And our own movie studio down in Ouzarzate? I decided to read up a bit more on Moroccos Movie History. 

After a bit of research, I was surprised to find that movies had been being made here from as long ago as 1897 ??? ( The Moroccan Knight by French Director Louis Luminere) admittedly a second isn’t noted for about 20 years, but after this there is a steady, almost yearly film being made by French, Spanish and German directors traveling down here to make all kinds of exotic sounding productions.

Of course there aren’t many people who haven’t heard of the Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman movie Casablanca. Strangely enough this film was made entirely in the Warner Brothers studios in Hollywood.

Hollywood doesn’t start to work here until 1949 and the great epic of Othello by Orson Wells is partly made in the city of Essaouria, with all those magnificent Portuguese ramparts as a back drop.

1955 brings the next American blockbuster, Alfred Hitchcocks thriller ” The Man Who Knew to Much” with James Stewart and Doris Day where that old classic and Accademy Award winning song “Kay Sera Sera,” comes from.

Umm… Lawrence of Arabia, David Lean shot parts of this down in Ouzarzate. From 1960-1970 16 films are made all over morocco by directors from all over Europe and America.

The 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s Moroccos good movie making reputation seems to spread and over 69 different films are made, The Pink Panther, James Bond and  Jackie Chan all come here to film. The late 80’s bring big directors like Martin Scorcese with the “Last Temptation of Christ and Bernard Bertolucci filming the Paul Bowles classic “The Sheltering Skies”.  In 1999  8 films are made and in 2002 12 more productions are filmed. Since then we have had Oliver stone, (Alexandra)  Ridley Scott visiting us twice in the recent past (Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), Syriana, Sahara, Babel and Rendition the list  is enormous. And still continuing with movies like The Prince of Persia being filmed now.

But what is it about Morocco…. Is it the diverse countryside the fact that we have mountains, dessert, staggering coastlines, fantastic historic architecture or the beautiful light and sunny climate that draws these film makers and artists here. Should we start using the title MollyWood. Are we becoming the new tinsel town of North Africa?

~ by marrakechxanthepat on August 5, 2008.

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