Saturday, 6 December 2008

7 Seconds in Marrakech

As you may recall I spent three days in Marrakech back in May to attend a conference. I thought I made pretty good use of my time; attending the conference and seeing the sights. Given the distance to travel it wasn't the cheapest of trips but I think I made the most of it.

Back in August we went to see Mamma Mia! at the cinema and I thought I saw a brief glimpse of the Place Jemma el-Fna in Marrakech during the opening sequence. I dismissed the idea as crazy though given that the film is set in Greece and filmed in Greece and at Pinewood Studios. Now we have the film on DVD I decided to take a closer look at the footage. It seems I wasn't wrong and here is the proof:

On the left is a photo I took showing some of the Place Jemma el-Fna and the entrance into the souk. On the right is a still from the movie showing the same tower and some of the same buildings. Now I recon that the final film includes exactly 7 seconds of footage shot in Marrakech, that is 175 frames or 8 still photos more than I took over three days (ignoring the two short video clips I made). In fact I can only be absolutely sure of about 41 frames -- the rest may have been filmed elsewhere. I'm guessing that they were probably the most expensive frames in the entire movie once you factor in the transportation of the cast and crew. Even if they had wanted to show somewhere in Africa you would think they would have tried to save money by faking it. After all in the same opening sequence we see what is meant to be an architects office in New York. In fact it is the Lloyds building in London with a few yellow cabs parked outside.

I've mentioned before about the strange geography you see on TV and in films and these opening shots of Mamma Mia! are very strange. We are supposed to believe that the quay where the three male leads meet for the first time is not far from the previous shots of Marrakech. In fact the quay is in Volos in Greece which is almost 3000km (around 1800 miles) as the crow flies from Marrakech and given the Mediterranean gets in the way, a lot further by motorbike!

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