This episode  should have been about a place that I did not get to visit – the Mediterranean Film Studios. Resource-challenged Malta offers locations, studios, ans a special effect studios for sea scenes with two sets – one out in the sea, and one in the studios which provided just in the last decade the sets for making films like Munich, Troy, Gladiator, or Pirates of the Caribbean. A special government agency – the Malta Film Commission – is charged with supporting the local film services for the international film industry.

(video source filmmalta)

If we did not get to see the studios I could at least take some pictures in the coffee shop in Mosta of posters of classical films that were filmed on the island – witness to the fact that the history of film making here did not start in the last decade. So I decided to make of this episode a review of the milestones of the Filmed-In-Malta history of cinema.

Malta Story

(video source MaltaflyVideos)

Inspired from the history of the Maltese heroism during World War II, Malta Story made in 1953 and staring Alec Guiness brought up the island – then under British rule – to the attention of movie fans and especially of film makers all over the world. Locations, mild and predictable weather, inexpensive and English and Italian speaking crews made of Malta a location of preference especially for the genre of historical super-productions then emerging in the industry.

Il Colosso di Rodos / Ursus

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMVon3ULHV8

(video source MsNickym1)

I do remember having seen Il Colosso di Rodi when I was a kind, it may have been at the Patria cinema where the first cinemascope screen in Bucharest was installed around 1960, and this may have been the first time I heard about and saw a fim of Sergio Leone, later to become the king of the spaghetti westerns.

The Robe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sZcL1ooHK0

(video source HistoryOfWidescreen)

I do not remember however The Robe, the first in a series of films inspired by the Roman antiquity and filmed in Malta. It was starring young star Richard Burton, and was made in the year I was born.

Spartacus

(video source cinemaart)

But then I could not miss Spartacus – the Stanley Kubrick deep dive in the history of the antiquity starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov. What a feast it was.

The Fall of the Roman Empire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f68U_Ift5No&feature=related

(video source MsNickym1)

As we all know the Roman empire fell eventually, the last great film of the historical super-production era marked the event – Antony Mann’s Fall of the Roman Empire. Alec Guinness was back, and staring by him were Sophia Loren, James Mason and Christopher Plummer. The year was 1964, the year Malta became an independent country, and the year the Mediterranean Film Studios were founded.

If anybody is wondering – no, John Huston’s Maltese Falcon was not filmed in Malta.

——

May 19, 2011

I probably need to make a correction here. It seems that none of ‘The Robe’, ‘Spartacus’, or ‘The Fall of the Roman Empire’ was filmed in Malta. The information was based on the posters on the walls of the coffee-shop in Mosta which I assumed (or maybe was told by the local people, I cannot remember exactly) that they describe movies that were filmed at least in part on the island. However, according to IMDB, Malta was not a filming location for any of these films, neither are they mentioned at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_shot_in_Malta.

Merci, Jean Pierre, for reading and commenting on this.