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Malta - Hollywood in the Mediterranean

Settembre 2016
Molti non sanno che negli ultimi anni Malta è diventata una delle località più popolari in Europa per set cinematografici e televisivi, tanto da essere soprannominata la "Hollywood del Mediterraneo" dal quotidiano britannico "Times".

di Roger Thompson

Gladiator (2000)
Gladiator (2000)
Today Popeye Village is a theme park
Today Popeye Village is a theme park

Malta has had a good reputation as a film location for several years. In 2002 Daniel Rosenthal wrote an article for the British newspaper The Times under the title "The Island of Everywhere." In it he described Malta as "the Med's mini-Hollywood." He also listed the main reasons for its popularity with directors and producers: excellent climate (plenty of sunshine and clear blue skies, which was what first attracted the film industry to California), proximity to major European cities, an English-speaking population, splendid medieval and Baroque architecture and unspoilt, breathtaking scenery. Since then Malta (which is an archipelago consisting of the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino) has gone from strength to strength as a location, and the Malta Film Commission is as busy as ever.


Movie-makers first came to Malta in the 1930s and since then more than 120 films have been made there. Business took off in the 1970s when British director Alan Parker used the streets of the capital, Valletta, to represent Istanbul in telling the chilling (and true) story of a young American who gets arrested for carrying drugs in Midnight Express. Since then other directors have followed Parker's example. These are just some of the movies that have been made in Malta:

Popeye (1980) was Robin Williams's first major film role (until then he was best known for the TV series Mork and Mindy).  Today the set, in Anchor Bay near Mellieha, is a theme park called Popeye Village or Sweethaven Village.

Gladiator (2000) starred Russell Crowe as Maximus, the Roman general who has to reinvent himself as a gladiator. Ancient Rome was recreated at Fort Ricasoli, where a replica of the Colosseum was built.

Pinocchio (2002):  Malta was also used for Italy in Pinocchio, which starred Roberto Benigni. The film was shot in and around the village of Kalkara.

Swept Away (2002): Guy Ritchie directed his then wife Madonna in this romantic comedy which was shot in Sardinia and on the beaches of Comino.

Troy (2004): Malta's timeless landscape was also perfect for this classical tale, which starred Brad Pitt as Achilles.
It was filmed at Fort Ricasoli, Mellieha and on Comino. Nor was this Pitt's only trip to Malta...

Alexander the Great (2004): Once again Malta was used for the classical world in this Oliver Stone film starring Colin Farrell as the King of Macedonia. 

The Da Vinci Code (2006): Ron Howard directed Tom Hanks in this film adaptation of Dan Brown's best seller. Various locations around the archipelago were used.
World War Z (2013): Brad Pitt came back to Malta for this Marc Forster-directed blockbuster. Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a former United Nations employee who tries to save the world from a zombie invasion. Valletta and the Three Cities (Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua) were the main Maltese locations.

By The Sea (2015): Malta became the French Riviera of the 1970s in this film, which was written and directed by Pitt's wife, Angelina Jolie. It was shot on the island of  Gozo.


Brad and Angelina seem to like Malta a lot. They first got together in 2005, but they didn't get married until 2014. The ceremony was held at Chateau Miravel, their property in the South of France,  but they chose Gozo as their honeymoon destination. This was after falling in love with the place while working on By the Sea.
In recent years Malta and Gozo have been used as a location for the massively successful Game of Thrones TV series. There's even a Game of Thrones tour. This includes Mdina, the ancient capital, which provides the setting for King's Landing, and Verdala Palace in Siggiewi, which is Illyrio's Mansion.

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