Entertainment

With the dinosaurs of Jurassic World, Malta displays its ambition of an open-air studio


REPORTAGE – The island appears for the first time as such in a chase between reptiles and humans. The authorities hope that this planetary pub will transform the nation into a hub for filming.

What do the heroic fantasy series have in common? Game Of Thronesthe zombie movie World War Z , the peplum Gladiatorthe melodrama in costume selected at Cannes My wife’s story , the comedy Asterix & Obelix Mission Cleopatra and the prison hell of Midnight Express? All of these films and series have, at some point, set their cameras on Maltese soil. Since 1963 and the construction of aquatic basins allowing filming of naval battles, the Mediterranean island has attracted more than 200 film shoots. But the ransom of glory is cruel: the small nation has always served as a stand-in for other countries or eras: Egypt, ancient Rome, Westeros, Turkish jails, the Riviera of the Belle Epoque. It had never appeared as such until the dinosaurs of Jurassic World: the world after invade it for a dantesque chase in the capital Valletta between Chris Pratt and atrociraptors trained to kill.

“Make children believe that dinosaurs trod Malta”

The reptiles and the hero zigzag on a motorcycle through the narrow streets of the 17th and 18th centurye century without much regard for the beautiful loggia balconies that adorn the buildings or the imposing hospital of the Order of Saint John, built in the 16e century. The giant carnivores that bump into the walls and skid on the stairs have little regard for this city, which is nevertheless classified as a UNESCO heritage site. And even crunch unfortunate onlookers in front of the seat of government.

SEE ALSO – “Jurassic World: the World after”: “This film is a reflection of our society”

Malta had been recommended to me by a producer familiar with the island’s film commission. She met our primary criteria.details at Figaro Colin Trevorrow, director of Jurassic World: the world after. The filmmaker wanted a key location, “a central position between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, an island city that could be a hub of shady trade”. Colin Trevorrow also wanted a locality with character and authenticity rather than a large New York or London style metropolis: “children should be able to believe that dinosaurs roamed the streets of Valletta”. And to emphasize: “There is something very symbolic in the fact that animals that died out 65 million years ago appropriated these ancient places steeped in history.” The small size of the premises was also a factor: “The narrower and steeper the road, the faster Chris Pratt could ride!“.

Chase through the streets of Valletta Universal

Turning Gladiator

Seeing Malta recognized and now playing its own role is the struggle of Johann Grech, the head of the Film Commission. He hopes that Jurassic World will give the same increased visibility as Gladiator. “In the early 2000s, Ridley Scott put Malta on the cinema map by filming the arena scenes at Fort Ricasoli“.

Built at the end of the 17th century, the military complex was transformed into a Roman Colosseum! In the process, the Spaniard Alejandro Amenábar uses the premises in 2009 to recreate the forum of Alexandria in Agora and recount the tragic fate of the Greek philosopher Hypatia, assassinated in the IVe century by Christian fanatics. The decors lending themselves to Antiquity also attracted Troywith Brad Pitt.

The American actor returned to the island to World War Zin which a horde of the undead descend the Renzo Piano stairs bordering the parliament, and for View on the sea of Angelina Jolie which takes place on the island of Gozo. Another fort, Fort-Manoel, was transformed into the Wailing Wall and Jerusalem for The crime of the Orient Express by Kenneth Branagh. “With its Byzantine, Italian, Arab influences, its islands, its ramparts and its more modern districts that emerged from the ground after the destruction of the Second World War, Malta can pass for any country in the southern Mediterranean: France, Greece , Maghreb, Libya, Israel»lists Johann Grech who dreams of attracting even more blockbusters as well as independent films.

Develop infrastructure and investments

Not only in the hope of attracting film-loving tourists who want to re-enact scenes from Da Vinci Codefrom Munich of Spielberg, of Captain PhillipsofAssassin’s Creed or of pirate island. “These shoots are important for sustaining part of our economy by giving work to employees in the catering and hotel industries, and to our local technicians. They are also crucial for training a generation of Maltese in cinema professions.. The Film Commission wants to encourage local productions for the small and big screen. “Our professionals do not stay and prefer to go abroad»deplores Johann Grech.

Russell Crowe regularly returns to the filming locations of Gladiator. Abaca

To promote his industry, the head of the Film Commission is also working on audiovisual awareness programs for schoolchildren. At the end of January, it organized the first Cesars of Maltese film. The gala, which was attended by Colin Trevorrow and, by videoconference, Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott, rewarded the best television and film works of the past five years.

Despite the Covid, the number of film shoots remains stable: 22. For the moment, Malta is appreciated for its 40% tax credit, its fortifications and its basins which hosted the submarines of the German series Das Bootthe waterfall and the huts from the sci-fi series Foundation or the vampire movie galleon The Last Voyage of Demeter with Jude Law, which is scheduled for theatrical release this summer.

The return of the prodigal son Ridley Scott

Featuring three tanks, Rinela’s Mediterranean Film Studio was founded in 1963 by British special effects expert Jim Hole and Maltese entrepreneur Paul Avellino. The duo installs a shallow artificial pool that gives the illusion of being in the open sea. A wind tunnel imitates wind, storms and waves. In 1979, a deep reservoir was added for underwater sequences. In 1996, an underwater space was dug for an advertisement for Levi’s jeans. James Cameron will be reluctant to do so titanic before opting for the Gulf of Mexico.

Johann Grech completed this offering with an enclosed set to house indoor stage sets and encourage productions to stay on the island longer. Budget: 35 million euros. A thousand local job creations are expected. Improvements that Ridley Scott will appreciate. The filmmaker, practically an honorary citizen of the island, returned to Malta this spring to film kit bagan intimate portrait for Apple TV+ of the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine to power.

Joaquin Phoenix portrays the winner of Austerlitz, Vanessa Kirby his wife and Tahar Rahim General Paul Barras. Fort Ricasoli was transformed into Toulon, Mdina, became Paris. But Malta may be able to play its own role. In June 1798, Bonaparte left Toulon with the bulk of the French fleet and seized Malta, an essential supply point. The French will occupy the island two years before the British take over the administration.

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