It seems that all things epic and exotic in the Middle East could unfold in the souks of Marrakesh and all the imagination of Hollywood find fodder for drama in its surrounding landscape. It’s not too surprising that many films that claim to be shot in Egypt, Afghanistan, or even Abu Dhabi actually find their location in Morocco. Thanks to its ancient cities, and spectacularly diverse landscape of mountains, deserts, and sea, along with a more stable political environment compared to its neighbors, there are a wealth of films shot throughout Morocco and specifically in Marrakesh. At the time of writing, Tom Cruise was seen racing a beamer and the Marrakesh stadium was closed for two days in order to film Mission Impossible 5. And soon, undoubtedly, Daniel Craig will be spotted ambling along a Moroccan beach clad in a euro-speedo in preparation for James Bond 24.
Here is a list of 5 epic films shot in Marrakesh with their locations.
The Man Who Knew Too Much (Mamounia Hotel)
Alfred Hitchcock’s spy thriller opens in the heart of Marrakesh, the Jemaa el Fna, teaming with snake charmers, food stalls, and storytellers. Here, James Stewart and Doris Day are to spend their seemingly pleasant holiday in the lavish Mamounia hotel before being entangled in assassination attempt of an ambassador.
Gladiator (Ait Benhaddou)
A short drive from Marrakech, there is an impressive fortified kasbah, called Ait Benhaddou. This is where Maximus, played by Russell Crowe, is taken as a slave to train as a gladiator. Numerous scenes of slavery and desert travel were shot in this spectacular location.
Sex and the City 2 (Taj Palace)
Though the story takes place in Abu Dhabi, this film was almost entirely shot in Morocco. Despite the film’s iffy reception, you can’t help but enjoy vicariously the luxuries of Marrakesh as this fashionable group of girls enjoy cocktails at sumptuous hotels.
Mission Impossible 5 (Marrakesh Stadium & Selman Hotel)
As I write, Tom Cruise is staying at the uber-posh Selman hotel and filming has already begun for his fifth Mission Impossible movie. We can only wait in anticipation to see Marrakesh once again on the big screen. Scheduled for release Christmas, 2015.
Hideous Kinky (Le Foundouk, No. 192 on Rue Moussine)
Kate Winslet stars in the film adaptation of this autobiographical novel. As the characters attempt to adjust to Marrakesh’s culture and people, viewers get a good idea of the city’s sounds and scenery. This movie serves as a genuine gateway into the ambiance of the Red City.