Sending a postcard from the secret installation of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — For your eyes only!
What could be more idyllic than a blissful tropical paradise covered in white sandy beaches, Areca nut palm trees and crystal clear, shallow warm azure waters inhabited by a plethora of aquatic marine life…?
Perhaps a battalion of Imperial Stormtroopers intent on eliminating a squad of Rebel invaders sent to retrieve the top-secret plans to the dreaded Death Star?
To Star Wars fans, there is nothing more spectacular than the sight of a trio of Imperial AT-ACT Walkers trudging across the terrain with their cannon’s releasing a barrage of heavy fire into a fleeing band of brazen freedom fighters. The gripping finale of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story introduced us to a brand-new planet in the Star Wars universe, one that boasted a tranquil and tropical location unrivalled in both beauty and majesty.
That planet is Scarif.
The small world, composed of a series of tropical island chains, many of them renowned for their rich volcanic properties arise from the clear, shallow oceans and has a mantle that boats an abundance of dense metals valuable in starship construction. These factors combined to make Scarif an incubator for Imperial military research and located at the very epicentre of the installation stands the citadel, a complex housing the Empire’s most classified secrets. In Star Wars lore, the planet has now become part of the saga’s mythology…one that couldn’t possibly exist in the harshness of our own reality…or could it?
Indeed, it can. In fact, despite an abundance of incredible special effects created by the geniuses at Industrial Light and Magic, Scarif was a location scouted from reality. The venue for such a paradise was Laamu Atoll, a cluster of some 82 islands located within the tranquil paradise of the Maldives, with two of the largest, Gan and Berasdhoo chosen to portray Scarif.
And the location scouting didn’t stop there…
Once Jyn Erso and her counterparts had infiltrated the citadel disguised as Imperial ground crew personnel, they were filmed walking through the buildings vast and technologically advanced interior which called for a state of the art set, reminiscent of the original installation’s made famous in the original trilogy.
But where could a filmmaker find such a futuristic location?
Director Gareth Edwards returned to London, England and found a fitting location that afforded him the perfect setting for his Scarif base. The location of choice was none other than the Canary Wharf London Underground station which was transformed overnight into the cold and technologically laden Scarif citadel, bursting with Imperial workforces. The filming schedule was arduous and the tireless filmmakers were forced to transform the station into the stunning facility we see in the final film in a matter of hours before it reopened to the public. It is a true testament to the team responsible for the facilities conception for creating such a vivid, custom built landscape by utilising the most unlikely of existent locations.
The incredible team at ILM have once again raised the bar with their unrivalled ability to create a masterful landscape for the fans to immerse themselves in. But maybe, just maybe we should look to our own world and discover a plethora of wonders capable of rivalling the created brilliance of our beloved Star Wars universe.
Unfortunately, much of the Scarif installation did not survive the movie’s finale but it’s legacy will live on for countless generations, recorded on film for the fans to enjoy repeatedly when movie arrives on home video. Should we yearn for a taste of the blissful scenery presented so vividly upon the screen, a trip to the Maldivian Islands is a must for every one of us. If not for the love of the movie, for the primal urge within us all to find that one location of tropical solace that could offer us the ultimate chance to unwind. Star Wars fans however, will flock to these islands in abundance desperate for glimpse of the now famous landscape of the mythological and top secret planet Scarif. Whether or not the ruins of the citadel tower will be there remains to be seen.
It has become a true desert island location like no other and a locale to send a postcard from titled From Scarif With Love…
If you get there before me….I’d love a postcard!
May The Force Be With You