Methodology Project

Mapping star Wars locations

When my dad was six years old, the very first movie he saw in the theater was Empire Strikes Back. He has described to me many times the feeling of being in that theater. His favorite scene is the one where Luke Skywalker is trapped in the Wampa cave. He says that the moment Luke uses the Force to pull the lightsaber from the snowbank made him understand that movies can be magic. 



It’s no surprise then, that my brother and I loved Star Wars growing up. I can’t remember a time before I loved Star Wars. My first memory, not just my first movie memory, but my very first memory, is sitting in the theater with my parents watching Attack of the Clones when I was four years old. By examining the filming locations of Star Wars, I wanted to discover what makes these landscapes so magical.  


 I think my Time Map of Star Wars filming locations exemplifies the transformative power of filmmaking. Without Star Wars, these are still awe-inspiring locations, absolutely. But Star Wars, by building spaceships, digitally rendering droid armies, and Ben Burtt’s sound design along with John Williams’ score, has forever given these places a magic beyond their natural vistas. 


When I see these redwoods of California or the snowdrifts of a Norwegian glacier, it’s almost impossible not to imagine speeders flying around the trees or AT-ATs on the horizon. 


Star Wars is as successful as it is both as art and entertainment, because of how meticulous George Lucas was in the execution of his vision. The film crews went, as evidenced by my project, to the ends of the Earth to provide the stunning visuals of these movies. But Star Wars also is what it is because of the other innovators who worked on the production of the film. 


Star Wars exists because of the people who gave it its iconic sounds, and the people who developed the visuals, like storyboard and concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. Everyone who added the speeders and AT-ATs and lightsabers and blasters and giant Imperial ships made these landscapes magical to enchant six year olds around the world, and then their children decades later.