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Thursday July 18th 2024

Rogue One | 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story location: Canary Wharf Jubilee Line Station, Docklands, London E14
The Imperial Security Complex on Scarif, infiltrated by Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and K-2SO: Canary Wharf Jubilee Line Station, Docklands, London E14

Movies based on video games, on toys, on theme park rides… and now one based on a plot hole.

Gareth Edwards’ immediate precursor to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope succeeds by avoiding the mythic pretensions that bogged down the George Lucas prequels and going back to the adventure story roots.

Like many of the Star Wars movies, Rogue One was based in the UK, at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire.

The stark mountains and black sand beaches of ‘Lah'mu’ where Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) and his family have retired to a simple farming life, are Mýrdalssandur Beach, a 20-minute drive east from the Southern Iceland fishing town of Vík í Mýrdal, beneath the mountains Hafursey and Hjörleifshöfði.

Vík is about 110 miles east of Reykjavik on Iceland's southernmost tip.

After Galen is taken away to work for the Empire, his young daughter Jyn Erso is spirited away by rebel Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) but nevertheless she too still ends up enslaved.

It’s years later that the grown-up Jyn (Felicity Jones) is sprung from capture and bundled off to the rebels’ outpost on the green moon of ‘Yavin IV’, familiar from Star Wars: A New Hope.

Much of this rebel base was built in the two enormous airship hangars at Cardington in Bedfordshire, north of London. Three miles south of Bedford, these hangars, the largest structures of their kind in Europe and ideally suited to large-scale film making, were previously used by Christopher Nolan to house the expansive sets for Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises and Inception.

The wider shots of Yavin IV’s jungle surface are, as they were in A New Hope, the ruins of Tikal National Park, a Mayan citadel dating from around the 1st century AD peeking above the rainforests of Peten in Guatemala.

You can catch a glimpse of the Lost World Pyramid and the Temple of the Grand Jaguar.

Jyn’s help is needed by rebel fighter Cassian (Diego Luna) to contact Gerrera who he believes has gained vital information about a fearsome new weapon being developed by the Empire.

Gerrera is hiding out on 'Jedha', a small desert moon, now occupied by the Empire. Its deserts and rocky outcrops are Salmon Zwaidh Camp, in a protected area called the Valley of the Moon in Wadi Rum, southern Jordan. The area also supplied the alien environment for Ridley Scott's The Martian, with Matt Damon, and where the desert scenes for Lawrence Of Arabia were filmed.

After ‘Jedah City’ is obliterated in a test run of the Death Star, Jyn, Cassian and a small band of rebel rebels make an unauthorised mission to the ‘Imperial Security Complex’ on the beautiful planet of ‘Scarif’.

Their quest is to retrieve the original plans for the Death Star, into which Galen Erso has cunningly hidden the fatal flaw that Luke Skywalker will one day exploit.

‘Scarif’s’ tropical beaches can be found in the Maldives, officially the Republic of the Maldives, a group of 1,192 coral islands (of which 185 are inhabited) in the Indian Ocean southwest of Sri Lanka and the tip of India.

The film uses the Laamu Gan in the Laamu Atoll (which alone is made up of 82 islands), Fonadhoo and the nearby uninhabited Berasdhoo island.

The Maldives were largely unknown until the early 1970s but are now a major luxury destination, though perhaps not for long. With an average ground-level elevation of below five feet above sea level, it is the world's lowest country and consequently ranked the third most endangered nation due to flooding from climate change.

You can reach the islands via Velana International Airport (Malé International Airport) on Hulhulé Island, adjacent to the capital Malé, which is served by flights from India, Sri Lanka, Doha, Dubai, Singapore, Istanbul, and major airports in South-East Asia, as well as charters from Europe.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story location: Canary Wharf Jubilee Line Station, Docklands, London E14
The Imperial Security Complex on Scarif, infiltrated by Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and K-2SO: Canary Wharf Jubilee Line Station, Docklands, London E14

Though most of the battle scenes were shot on location, stunts and explosions which might have damaged the local ecosystem were shot in the UK at Bovingdon Airfield, Bovingdon, Hertfordshire.

The interior of the ‘Security Complex’ itself on Scarif, infiltrated by Jyn, Cassian and K-2SO is Canary Wharf Tube Station on the Jubilee Line in London, a scene which had to be filmed – amazingly considering the set dressing involved – between midnight and 4am when the Underground system was closed.

The old Docklands area of London was massively renovated in the 1990s as a massive financial and commercial hub with plenty of futuristic architecture that’s proved a boon to film companies. You may have seen the huge escalators at Canary Wharf station in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later… and more recently in Men In Black International.