(updated on November 3rd 2018, from an initial list of 13 films 🙂 )
With such wonderful landscapes and an exceptional historical heritage, Jordan is obivously a great place for movie makers: Wadi Rum, Petra, the eastern desert, Amman… Put yourself in the mood with a selection of 17 films about Jordan, or at least filmed in Jordan…
HISTORY, WITH A CAPITAL « H »
In « real life », Jordan, or one of the multiple names it took before becoming « Jordan », was the scene of Homeric clashes. Men and women have made History here. Amongst the multitude of historical events, 3 in particular occured in Jordan:
1. Saladin (1963), by Youssef Chahine
The pitch : no need to introduce Saladin. In the twelfth century, he was the sultan who victoriously led the Muslim armies against the Crusaders , managing in 1187 to retake Jerusalem. During his life as a leader, Saladin proposed several truces to the Crusaders, which he respected, unlike some of his opponents (Renaud de Chatillon …). Saladin was known for his leadership, political vision, and leniency.
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? crusader castles of Karak and Showbak, Qal’at ar-rabat (Ajloun castle), Pharao Island in the gulf of Aqaba on the egyptian side, but reachable from Aqaba…
NB : trap! This film was actually one of the first Egyptian superproductions … and was thus shot in Egypt, under the Nasser era.
1963 was undoubtly a major year as far as films about Jordan are concerned.
The pitch : the somewhat magnified biopic of the enigmatic and atypical T.E. Lawrence. In 1916-1917, this young British officer helped to lift an Arab revolt against the Turkish occupier. Whoever will become famous as « Lawrence of Arabia » will thus contribute to a guerrilla warfare ultimately allowing to defeat, then defeat, what remained of Ottoman empire in Arabia and the Levant. A brilliant, eccentric, francophobic character … His two short years in the company of Bedouins are indeed worthy of a novel!
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? Wadi Rum desert, the Aqaba-Amman-Damas railway, the fort of Aqaba, the disillusioned history of Ma’an, Azraq castle (Lawrence’s HQs for some time), the understanding of the fragile balance of powers between the tribes form Soutb and North…
3. Kingdom of Heaven (2005), by Ridley Scott
The pitch : king of Jerusalem Baldwin the leper, magnanimous Saladin, bloodthirsty Renaud de Chatillon, weak Guy de Lusignan, a beautiful woman with a heart to take, Homeric battles … The epic of the Crusades in a magnificent film of 2:25, by a talented director when it comes to high-performance films. Balian’s story is fictionalized, but the description of the key characters appears to be very likely.
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? same as for « Saladin », but from the other side of the battlements! crusader castles of Karak and Showbak, Qal’at ar-rabat (Ajloun castle), Pharao Island in the gulf of Aqaba on the egyptian side, but reachable from Aqaba….
NB : Trap! this film, which the whole story happens almost between Palestine, Jordan and Israel was actually shot in … Morocco ! 😒😒
4. Indiana Jones and the last crusade (1989), by Steven Spielberg
The pitch : as the poster says in English, « and this time he’s coming with his father » … Harrison Ford AND Sean Connery in the same movie, that means a pretty high testosterone rate… and so a good movie rhythm! To watch with family before or after your visit to Jordan. The final scene in Petra is worth the detour, only by itself…
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? Petra of course! (al Khazneh, the Treasury, and also Madras trail ). Details: the interior of the Treasury is empty, and does not shelter an 800 years old knight ..
5. Transformers 2 : the Revenge of the fallen (2009), by Michael Bay
The pitch : I do not know anything about this kind of film, but as the inent was to make an article about the movies having Jordan as filming place, huh … Anyway, here is the pitch of the film, that I draw in extenso of the french movie site « allociné »:
« Two years have passed since Sam Witwicky saved the universe from a decisive battle between the two rival clans of extraterrestrial robots. Despite his exploits, Sam remains a teenager concerned about the concerns of young people of his age … »
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? Wadi Rum, As-Salt, but also Petra again, with some shots in front of the Treasury. I’ve been told that robot-cars actually don’t exist, and were added afterwards, in post-production…
PLANET MARS (OR ANY OTHER WEIRD ALIEN PLANET)
Red sand, bizarre mountains, vast desert … No doubt, Jordan, and especially Wadi Rum, look like a red planet. In 2018, sending 2 pounds in geostationary orbit still costs $ 10 to $ 15,000, and since the average Joe actor weighs around 80 kilos. So, for some reasons, movies producers have decided that it was cheaper to actually simulate the planet Mars on Earth … using the terrestrial deserts, and in particular that of Wadi Rum :-).
6. Mission to Mars (2000), by Brian de Palma
The pitch : In 2020, human exploration begins on Mars, with NASA sending a first team of astronauts to Mars. But shortly after landing, they face what they first believe to be a storm. The communications are cut and they understand that this « storm » is actually caused intentionally by a higher power … but does it have good or bad intentions?
Some say Brian de Palma was completely exhausted because of the film….And to be honest, you can almost see it on the screen as the rythm is, well….rather slow.
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? Wadi Rum, where several general scenes were shot … even though the producers preferred to create a 23 hectare sandy area in Canada studios to manage most of the scenes. (sigh)
7. Prometheus (2010), by Ridley Scott
The pitch : Ridley Scott, previously subscribed to Jordan without having set foot on it (Kingdom of Heaven 2005, Body of Lies, 2008). finally decides to use the potential of Jordan, « for real ».
This movie is a kind of revisited « myth of Prometheus », with a mixture of Alien and 2001 – Space Odyssey. A team of explorers goes on a new planet, having discovered on Earth a decisive index that gives information on the origin of humanity ….
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? Wadi Rum, but with an uneasy and dark atmosphere, totally different from what you actually feel when you go there for real !
8. The Martian (2015) , by Ridley Scott
The pitch : our favorite ! Really, Ridley Scott has obviously fallen in love with Jordan, since this is his fourth film having a direct relationship with this country. In the near future, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left for dead by his teammates, a storm that forced them to take off in emergency. But Mark has survived and is now alone and without a way back on a hostile planet.
He will have to use his intelligence and ingenuity to try to survive and find a way to contact Earth. 225 million kilometers away from him, NASA and scientists around the world are working tirelessly to save him, while his teammates are trying to organize a mission to recover at the risk of their lives …
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? Wadi Rum, in all its authenticity and splendor. We even have the precise location of the movie, but we will not give it so easily! Also, the Rover used in the film is now owned by the Automobile Museum in Amman, a must-do in Amman!
9. Rogue One – a Star Wars story (2016), by Gareth Edwards
The pitch : this film is located chronologically between episodes 3 (Revenge of the Sith) and 4 (New Hope) of the series. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story recounts the theft of the Black Star’s plans, allowing the legendary Star Wars movie of 1977 to begin with these lines:
« Rebel spies have managed to steal the secret plans of the ultimate weapon of the Empire, the Death Star, an armored space station with enough energy to destroy an entire planet».
This movie is not part of the 9 Star Wars series, but includes a well-stocked script, 2 Oscar nominations, and a decent celebrity streak (Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker , James Earl Jones). …). .
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? Wadi Rum, as planet Jedha!
10. And Star Wars 9 ?! reaaaly!!????
#familyinjordan visited Wadi Rum last weekend …. and we saw lots of very weird and very « sci-fi » scenery! 🙂
One thing for sure: all Aqaba hotels are fully packed from early October to mid-November 2019 for an « American movie », and some forums teem with rumors about the bizarre scenery that can be found, while wandering in some secret spots in Wadi Rum ….
#familyinjordan confirms that we have seen exactly the same thing as on this Star Wars fan forum, and even more bizarre stuff! …. 🙂
Global release planned in December 2019 should enlighten this well-kept secret! .
11. Last days on Mars (2013), by Ruairy Robinson
The pitch : March, in the near future… A group of astronauts sent on a mission to the planet will finish in a few hours their 6 months long mission on Mars … But one of them discovers a new type of bacteria in the samples taken … Now here starts the issue…The bacteria will end up contaminating this astronaut, and I’ll let you guess what’s next … As the trailer of the film states:
« the search for life is about to end… ».
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? ? Wadi Rum, as a martian desert full of evil bacterias!
War and regional conflicts:
Jordan has the immense advantage of being stable and secure, while resembling its restless Iraqi, Syrian lebanese neighbors. Unsurprisingly, several films reporting the situation of the Middle East were filmed there.
12. Body of lies (2008) – by Ridley Scott
Le pitch : Ridley Scott decided in 2008 to make a spy film supposed to take place in Jordan. Roger Ferris (Di Caprio) is a former journalist injured during the war in Iraq. Recruited by the CIA, His mission is to track a terrorist based in Jordan. In his work, Ferris will have to rely on two partners who may not want that good: a former CIA, and a senior officer of Jordanian intelligence service …
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? a couple of scenes looking like Moab, this great desert between Madaba and Ma’an.
NB : Trap! Another movie filmed in Morocco! It is possible that the political sensibility of the film (espionage in Jordan), made complicated a filming in the country itself …
13. The Hurt locker (2008), by Kathrin Bigelow
The pitch : in the midst of the second Gulf War, Sergeant James is leading an explosive ordnance disposal team working in Baghdad, rather hostile to the American presence. But, as the film poster says, mine clearance is not really a mass sport:
« You dont have to be a hero to do this job. But it helps ».
With 6 Oscar rewards in 2010, this film is one of those great movies contributing to make a country think about the wars it leads, good or bad. And so is to put in the same category – as « the deer hunter » and other « Platoon », two pieces of art filmed in other circumstances and other moments of history.
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? the film was mostly shot in Amman and its suburbs, representing Baghdad. It’s up to you to recognize places you know!
14. Incendies (2010) by Jacques Villeneuve
The pitch : During the reading their mother’s will, shortly after her death, Jeanne and Simon Marwan are given two envelopes: one for a father whom they thought was dead, and the other for a brother whose existence they did not know.
Jeanne immediately decides to go to the Middle East to understand the past of this family of which she knows nothing … and Marwan, once the shock passed, will join him there. The rest is a succession of more or less difficult moments. This remarkable film simulates a country at war, probably Lebanon of the 80s, in the midst of a confessional war. Exceptional by its scenario, the plot is also very hard … sensitive souls abstain!
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? the mountains of the west of Jordan, on the edge of Wadi Araba. And also, for those who know a little dialect, the inimitable Jordanian accent 🙂
15. From A to B (2015) by Ali F. Mostafa
The pitch : In memory of their deceased friend, 3 former friends who had lost sight, take the decision to start together a road trip from Abu Dhabi (A) to Beirut (B). Obviously, as their paths of life have diverged, they no longer share either the same values or the same passions …. But in the end, they will not forget that:
« To find yourself, you need to get a little lost… »
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? they cross Jordan by car, and some scenes occure in Petra /little Petra.
16. The stoning of Soraya (2008) by Cyrus Nowrasteh
Le pitch : This is the true story of Soraya Manutchehri (1951-1986), a 35-year-old woman, stoned in the small village of Kuhpayeh in Iran. The film was inspired by the book « The Stoned Woman (1990) », written by the French-Iranian writer Freidoune Sahebjam.
Soraya is a brave Iranian woman who realizes that the arranged marriage of which she is a victim is doomed to failure. Her husband, Ghorban-Ali, wants to marry another, younger woman, but hedoesn’t have enough money to support two women …. He then decides to accuse her of adultery, which will cause her to be sentenced to stoning ….
Note that it is the excellent Jim Caviezel who plays the cunning husband …
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? this movie was shot in Jordan.
17. Theeb (2014), by Naji Abu Nuwar
Le pitch (à voir à lire) : Hedjaz, 1916, under British rule. In a Bedouin camp, in the heart of the desert, the young 10-year-old Theeb lives with his older brother Hussein, who passes on the ancestral traditions to him. One night, a British officer invites himself into the community: Hussein agrees to guide him in search of a well, on the road to Mecca. But Theeb refuses to separate from his brother and decides to follow them at a distance …..
What does it have to do with your stay in Jordan? ? very nice views from the South of Jordan, and especially Wadi Rum.
And this short list can very easily be extended over 21 titles, with many more movies :
- Aladdin, with Will Smith (will be issued in spring 2019)
- Passion in the desert (refer wikipedia),
- The queen of the desert (2015), with Nicole Kidman as the british explorer Gertrude Bell,
- Rosewater (2014), by Jon Stewart,
- and countless quality Arab films we do not know very well yet!
- To get specific locations of filming locations and to have more info, please contact us or wait a little bit 😉