A brief history of the films of Marrakech and Morocco

The first film shot in Marrakech was by French pioneer Louis Lumière in 1897. Some Hollywood ‘big hitters’ followed after the second war, notably Orson Welles who filmed ‘Othello’ in Marrakech and Essaouira in 1949 (Palme d’Or winner) and David Lean, who shot desert scenes for ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in 1962.

 Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ was also set in Marrakech. The opening scenes of the film were filmed in the souks and the main square, Jemaa el Fna, a location which has changed little since!

Hitchcock fell in love with Marrakech and spent a considerable amount of time here where he wrote the screenplay for ‘The Birds’ in Marrakech.

British agent 007 also made it to Marrakech, with Timothy Dalton playing Bond in ‘The Living Daylights’ in 1987.

Martin Scorsese was so impressed with the filmic qualities of Marrakech, notably the light, that he filmed two major motion pictures here, ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ in 1988 followed by ‘Kundun’ in 1997.

The director who has filmed perhaps more in Morocco than any other is Ridley Scott. Having shot ‘Gladiator’ here in 2000 he returned in 2001 for ‘Black Hawk Down’ and was back again in 2005 to film ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ (in the desert around the Atlas Studios and in Essaouira) and in 2008 for ‘Body of Lies’.

This enthusiasm for Morocco was shared by Ridley’s brother, the late Tony Scott, who shot ‘Spy Game’ here with Brad Pitt and Robert Redford.

Our hotel, Les Borjs de la Kasbah, is able to organise excursions to the Atlas Mountains and beyond, to visit the famous studios where so many of these films were made. 

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply