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A timeline of your favourite films shot in Malta
A timeline of your favourite films shot in Malta
With a 92-year-long history of producing top-tier international film and TV productions, we thought it fitting to compile a list of all your favourite films, which have been filmed on the Maltese Islands, starting from the 1950s and ending with a much more recent production. Which of them have you seen?
Malta Story (1953)
It’s 1942 and the island of Malta is fighting to survive. The threat of invasion by Axis forces is increasing as air raids wear down its defence. The historical-drama was directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and was filmed in and around the Lascaris War Bunker, an impressive underground complex of tunnels and chambers in Valletta.
A Twist of Sand (1968)
A former British Naval Officer makes his living by smuggling goods around the Mediterranean and after being forced to dump his cargo after nearly being caught by the authorities in Malta, he’s eager to recoup his losses. Don Chaffey directed the 1968 movie and chose the Grand Harbour, the Barrakka Lift, the Upper Barakka Gardens in Valletta and Delimara point as his filming locations.
Midnight Express (1978)
While on vacation in Istanbul, Turkey in 1970, American college student Billy Hayes straps 2kg of hashish bricks to his chest. As he and his girlfriend are about to board a plane back to the US, Billy is detained by the Turkish police. The film was directed by Alan Parker and filmed almost entirely at the grand Fort St Elmo in Valletta, after permission to film in Istanbul was denied!
Looking for the father who deserted him as a child, a sailor named Popeye journeys to the port town of Sweethaven. He befriends an assortment of eccentrics and falls in love with Olive Oyl. He also discovers an abandoned baby, Swee’Pea, whom he raises as his own. The famous 1980 film was directed by Robert Altman and stars Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall. It was also filmed, as you can imagine, at Popeye Village near Anchor Bay in Mellieħa, which was built specifically for this movie!
Gladiator revolves around a former Roman General, who sets out to exact vengeance against the corrupt emperor who murdered his family and sent him into slavery. The epic film was directed by Ridley Scott and stars the likes of Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix. Not to mention that it was filmed primarily at Fort Ricasoli, a large fortification in the south of Malta, in Kalkara.
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
An adaptation of the Alexander Dumas tale by the same name, the Count of Monte Cristo follows a sailor named Dantes, who is falsely accused of treason by his best friend. He is imprisoned on the island prison of Chateau d’If for 13 years, where he plots revenge. The 2002 film was directed by Kevin Reynolds, stars Guy Pearce and Jim Caviezel and was filmed at the Santa Marija Watchtower in Comino, as well as all over the capital city.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
In an alternative Victorian Age world, a group of famous contemporary fantasy, science fiction and adventure characters team up on a secret mission. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, directed by Stephen Norrington and starring Sean Connery, Stuart Townsend and Peta Wilson was filmed in water tanks, as well as on Xlendi Cliffs in Gozo.
An adaptation of Homer’s great epic, the 2004 film Troy follows the assault on Troy by the united Greek forces and chronicles the fates of the men involved. The film was directed by Wolfgang Petersen and stars Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom. The highly-acclaimed movie was filmed in Kalkara’s Fort Ricasoli, which acted as the impenetrable city of Troy, as well as the Blue Lagoon in Comino.
After the Black September capture and massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, five men are chosen to eliminate the people responsible for that fateful day. Munich was directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Eric Bana, Daniel Craig and Marie-Josee Croze. Standing in for scenes in Tel Aviv promenade is the town of Sliema and the Olympic Hotel in the town of Buġibba.
A historical drama set in Roman Egypt concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hope of pursuing freedom while falling in love with his mistress, the philosophy and maths professor Hypatia of Alexandria. Directed by Alejandro Amenabar and starring Rachel Weisz and Max Minghella, the film was mainly shot at a purpose-buiolt set at Fort Ricasoli, as well as Marsaxlokk, Valletta, Mdina and Victoria Lines!
World War Z (2013)
Former United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop a zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatens to destroy humanity itself. Directed by Marc Foster and starring Brad Pitt, Mirielle Enos and Daniella Kertesz, World War Z was filmed at the Malta International Airport, Marsa, Pinto Wharf, Wine Wharf and other locations in Valletta.
Captain Phillips (2013)
The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in 200 years. Captain Phillips was directed by Paul Greengrass and stars Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi and Barkad Adbirahman. It was filmed in two of Malta’s biggest harbours, the Grand Harbour in Senglea and the Freeport Terminals in Birżebbuġa and Marsaxlokk.
By the Sea (2015)
Set in the 1960s in France, an American couple who are barely on speaking terms, travel to a coastal hotel in the European country, in an effort to repair their failing marriage. The film was written and directed by Angelina Jolie, who also stars in the movie, alongside Brad Pitt and Melanie Laurent. By the Sea was filmed across nine weeks in the idyllic bay of Mġarr Ix-Xini in Gozo.
Assassin’s Creed (2016)
Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha and gains the skills of a master assassin, before taking on the secret Templar society. The film was directed by Justin Kurzel and stars Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons and was filmed primarily in Valletta. More specifically, at the beautiful Fort Manoel, the Grand Master’s Palace, the National Library and St Augustine Church, just to name a few.
Wrongfully convicted for murder, Henri Charriere forms an unlikely relationship with fellow inmate and quirky convicted counterfeiter Louis Dega, in an attempt to escape from the notorious penal colony on Devil’s Island. Papillon was directed by Michael Noer and stars Charlie Hunnam, Damijan Oklopdzic and Christopher Fairbank. It was filmed in the water tanks in Kalkara, as well as on Mtaħleb Cliffs in Rabat.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
When a murder occurs on the train called the Orient Express on which he is travelling, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case and every single person on the train is a suspect. The movie was directed by Kenneth Branagh and stars Branagh himself, as well as Penelope Cruz and Willem Dafoe. Murder on the Orient Express was filmed in Valletta, with the boat departing from the old customs house near Lascaris Bastion!