In 60 AD, the Maltese natives saved St Paul from a watery grave. In return, he gave them Christianity. In 2016 AD, the Maltese gave Tom Cruise a set for The Mummy remake. In return, Tom Cruise tried to give us Scientology. We politely refused over a round of pastizzi.
That’s my hypothetical vision of the future anyway. Nonetheless, it’s always a pleasure to hear about great projects opting for our islands as their backdrop. What’s particularly entertaining for us locals is being able to point out all the actors and extras we know personally. We feel very proud to be able to offer our services to the industry of cinema. As our land is rich in history, so is our 90-year long portfolio, which showcases a number of memorable historical dramas which were shot in Malta, featuring Maltese extras and local actors.
“What we do in life echoes in eternity.” (Maximus Decimus Meridius)
Malta’s film industry will forever be marked by Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. This film put us on the map, and the production brought with it an outstanding cast, including the late Oliver Reed, who spent his final hours at The Pub in Valletta. Alongside this stellar team that boasts the names of Richard Harris, Russell Crowe and Omid Djalili, minor roles were assigned to home grown talent, not to mention the many extras and familiar faces that can be spotted in several scenes. One can even recognise a hint of the Maltese accent when the crowd calls for Maximus to “live, live, live…”. Fort Ricasoli was recreated to represent Rome in 180 AD, and many a Maltese portrayed Roman citizens in this iconic movie.
Incidentally, we’ve been role-playing Romans in Easter processions for ages. Maybe Ridley Scott lent us some of the costumes… Hmm.
This was the film where everybody, and I do mean everybody, showed up. I spent the whole film going, “Ara Alan! Ara Charles! Ara Polly! Ara Manuel!” (Oh look it’s…) This production boasts the collaboration of Malta’s finest talent with Hollywood’s Rachel Weisz and Oscar Isaac, and is a historical drama set in Alexandria under the Roman Empire. Yes, we do Roman Empire very well; it’s one of our specialities.
Troy marked the beginning of a love story betwixt Malta and Brad Pitt. Following this production, Mr Pitt returned to film World War Z and By The Sea. Again, we come across across a few familiar faces, including Manuel Cauchi. Fort Ricasoli, Mellieħa and Comino were the main locations, and Orlando Bloom and Brad were even spotted in Paceville… not filming of course. You can’t really fit Burger King and Plush into a Spartan plot line.
And here’s a shot of Brad, intensely looking away from the camera, pondering whether he likes Twistees or not.
Helen of Troy (2003)
What is it with Malta and the Hellennistic period? This mini series captured the time when a film crew buried Malcolm Galea alive all the way up to his neck and made him beg in Maltese. This excellent series also features Manuel Cauchi, Paul Portelli, Edward Mercieca and Colin Willis. Like I said, everybody shows up. It also stars John Rhys-Davies, who is a regular of our island as an actor, and the whole series was entirely shot in Malta.
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
Guess what. Malcolm shows up again. Mr Galea was the body double for Jim Caviezel, who plays Edmond Dantes in this adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas classic. Richard Harris also makes another appearance, and I hate to break this to you, ladies… but Henry Cavill was present on our islands whilst filming this production. He was here and we didn’t know it. Admittedly, he hadn’t really shot to fame at this point, so we’re forgiven for not paying our respects.
So this is why Filfla is off limits! It’s protecting the Monte Cristo treasure. Incidentally, I wonder if the character in the story owned a zoo…
What other films shot in Malta have you enjoyed? Let us know in the comment section below!