While much of George Lucas’ mythic Star Wars films were filmed in studio lots or in preexisting structures, a number of their exterior sets, especially for the desert planet Tatooine, were purpose built for the films and simply abandoned to the sands and the fans when filming was over.
While the most famous left over Star Wars set may be the Hotel Sidi Driss, a Tunisian hotel which was used as the interior of the Lars moisture farm, Luke Skywalker’s teenage home, many more structures were built just for the production such as the Lars farm exterior and most of the city of Mos Espa.
In Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace the spaceport of Mos Espa is shown as a bustling frontier town where young Anakin Skywalker lives and works as a slave. Many of the bulbous structures were filled in using CGI, but much of the first stories of the buildings were built practically and still stand as a squat beige town square that looks as though it was shaved cleanly off at the top. The facades are not actually buildings, but fronts built for filming, yet visitors can still mill about the exteriors as though they were on that far flung desert planet. There are also some iconic “moisture vaperators” also left on the site.
It turns out the fictitious European town in which Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotelwas set isn’t so fictitious after all.
Hidden amidst the Brandenburg forest 15 kilometers (9.32 miles) north of Berlin are buildings seemingly lost in time and built in such grandiose socialist-classicism style, you wouldn’t be surprised if a concierge named Gustave greeted you at the door or a “Boy With Apple” painting adorned the walls. Winding back the clock a few decades to the Cold War era, it was within these very four walls that the German Democratic Republic (GDR) brainwashed young people and officials from all around the world with propaganda about the ideals of socialism and the evils of the capitalist West.
From 1951 to 1990, the FDJ (Freie Deutsche Jugend) youth academy was the top-secret educational facility for the official communist youth movement of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, occupying a vast 43 000 square meters at Bogensee near Wandlitz. Today, despite being relinquished and left to decay for over two decades, these buildings haven’t lost their majestic, otherworldly charms.