「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Filming Star Wars

By Mike Dwane


To judge from the paint job on some ANA jets I've seen, it looks like Japan is pretty excited about the new Star Wars movie.

The influence of Kurosawa and the samurai on George Lucas' original films is obvious. And it seems the feeling is mutual and that Japan loves all things Star Wars — whether that is a limited edition pot of instant noodles or sending in the army to sculpt a giant Darth Vader for the Sapporo Snow Festival.

Ireland also has reason to feel excited about the next two movies in the franchise. Parts of both Episode VII (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Episode VIII were filmed on location here.

The Skellig Islands are two sandstone pyramids that rise up out of the Atlantic Ocean like great Gothic cathedrals. Dramatic and other-worldly, one can see why a director would want to shoot a science fiction movie there.

Also, the Irish government offers generous tax breaks to the film industry. Most of the battle scenes in Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan were filmed not in Scotland or in Normandy but in Ireland. Our government argues that what we lose in tax we more than make up for in the tourism revenue that Hollywood exposure brings.

But not everybody was happy about Star Wars being filmed on the Skellig Islands. There were objections on environmental and heritage grounds in particular.

The Skelligs are just two islands. Little Skellig is home to the world's second-largest gannet colony. By boat, it looks like a cake covered with white frosting. That is because of the tens of thousands of seabirds nesting there and the thousands of tonnes of guano they leave behind. Guano is prized as a fertiliser but most people just know it as bird droppings. And you could hardly expect Harrison Ford or Mark Hamill to film on that!

The bigger island — and the actual film location — is known as Skellig Michael and is home to a sixth-century monastery established by holy men who wanted to put a good 12 km of rough seas between themselves and civilisation. The settlement has long since been abandoned but is very well preserved. Skellig Michael is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The effects of mass tourism on such sites around the world — from Petra in Jordan to Machu Picchu in Peru — is one of the reasons for the concerns about filming on Skellig Michael, and conservationists say the last thing such delicate environments need is more tourism.

I recommend visiting the Skelligs, but if you can't make it, you will at least be able to see one of the islands in The Force Awakens.



The Japan Times ST: November 20, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




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