Last week actress Annabelle Wallis shared a snap of her and Tom Cruise on location in Namibia. Together with Jake Johnson and Courtney B Vance, they look delighted to be filming the The Mummy sequel – and they’re not the first to have fallen for the southern African country sandwiched between South Africa, Botswana and Angola.
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The original location for the shoot was rumoured to be Malta, but instead the crew jetted off to Namibia to film close to the coastal city of Swakopmund.
Swakopmund boasts colonial German architecture and awesome sand dunes, which the cast could surf down if they weren’t getting enough adventure on set. 30 kilometres south of the city lies the Walvis Bay Lagoon, a massive stretch of wetland along Africa’s east coast that is home to hundreds of pink flamingos. Filming started in July and in the middle of Namibia’s dry season in August, so any dusty sandstorms in the film could be totally (super) natural.
The Mummy is by no means the first movie to take advantage of Namibia’s jaw-dropping landscape…
2001: A Space Odyssey
Bushman’s Paradise Cave, Spitzkoppe mountains
Whilst most of this groundbreaking movie was shot in a studio, the ambitious “The Dawn of Man” opening sequence was filmed in Namibia. Being in the world’s top ten most sparsely populated countries in the world, Namibia’s eerie deserts perfectly captured Cenozoic-era Africa. The sequence was shot in the Spitzkoppe mountains, a range of bare granite peaks that rise dramatically out of the flat surrounding plains. Director Stanley Kubrick pioneered front projection for the sequence, using a 100 x 40 feet-long screen to keep the primates in shadows against the fierce Namibian sunlight.
Full moon near the Sesriem Canyon
Another film that took advantage of Namibia’s prehistoric landscape was Roland Emmerich’s 2008 film 10,000 BC. It follows the adventures of a young mammoth hunter as he navigates his way through alien and new territory to secure the future of his tribe. Whilst critics have pulled the film up on its historical inaccuracies and questioned the use of CGI, many admit that the scenery, including the rolling pans over the Namib desert, make the film a worthwhile watch.
The Young Black Stallion
Released in 2003, The Young Black Stallion was one of the first films released by Disney specifically for IMAX. The 50-minute film follows Neera, a young girl who is saved by a wild and mysterious black colt after being separated from her father in the Arabian desert.
The eponymous black colt and his mother in Namibia
Since she was four, the actress who played Neera, Biana Tamimi, had been a keen horse rider. Biana got the part in the film after her friend spotted the casting call and made a video of Biana during her riding lesson! The New York Post said the short movie was a “visual treat” thanks to its wide-angle shots and the impressive Namibian backdrop. The film soaks up the country’s most impressive sights, including the Skeleton Coast and the Spitzkoppe mountains, as well as neighbouring South Africa’s Drakensberg mountain range.
The B2 road between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay
One of Angelina’s lesser known films, Beyond Boarders is filmed in Namibia as well as Canada and Thailand. It’s about an American socialite whose eyes are opened to poverty after she meets a doctor and helps support his work in refugee camps. Reflecting Jolie’s personal interest in humanitarian relief, the film used Namibia as a stand-in for Ethiopia as the producer said they needed “terrain that is dry, rocky and semi-desert”. Angelina has returned to Namibia many times since shooting Beyond Boarders, famously giving birth to her daughter Shiloh in the country, before setting up the Shiloh Jolie-Pitt Foundation in 2006 to help develop projects with the N/a’an Ku Se Lodge and Wildlife Sanctuary.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Sand dunes at Sossusvlei
The most recent film to be shot in Namibia is the third instalment of the Mad Max franchise: Fury Road. Starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, the film won a clutch of awards for its cinematography and production design. The stark sand dunes of Namibia were a very convincing post-apocalyptic backdrop to the high-octane vehicle chases. The majority of the filming took place at Dorob National Park, which has long been popular with travellers in search of extreme adventure and some areas are now protected to help the land recover from the overuse of quad bikes. If you don’t want to recreate the fuel-guzzling antics of Mad Max for yourself, the park offers plenty of other adrenaline-pumping activities, including windsurfing, kayaking with dolphins and sky diving. More Mad Max in Namibia locations