The Malta Independent 21 August 2019, Wednesday

New book: Malta on the Silver Screen documents all films ever shot in Malta

Tuesday, 25 November 2014, 13:48 Last update: about 6 years ago

A tourist guide and movie enthusiast has produced a volume that documents every single cinema film fully or partly produced on the Maltese islands. The book will make an ideal Christmas gift for motion picture lovers, collectors of Melitensia as well as the casual reader who will find numerous interesting nuggets of information that Angela Peel's meticulous research has brought to light, writes Colin Fitz.

Malta and Gozo have served as a backdrop in scores of films since the first recorded instance of movie-making on the islands took place in 1925.

Sometimes the islands have played themselves and served an intricate part in the plot, as in the movies 'Malta Story', 'Black Eagle' and 'Mackintosh Man'; other times the wide variety of magnificent architecture, landscapes and beautiful beaches masqueraded as a foreign city, as in the case of 'Munich', 'Eichman' and 'World War Z'.

The islands' magical quality even led to them standing in for fantastic lands in far off fantasy realms or alien planets, as in 'Clash of the Titans', 'Erik the Viking,' 'Inseminoid' and 'Popeye'.

Film makers have also been enticed to the islands thanks to a huge number of other factors - among them magnificent water tanks, perfect for filming scenes set on the ocean; and the availability of many willing, hard working craftsmen and actors well-versed in the language of Hollywood. Nowadays, tax incentives and the presence of local personnel trained in the art of film making have added to the incentive package.

Hundreds of famous American, British, Italian, French, Scandinavian and German actors, producers and directors have worked on this tiny Mediterranean outcrop, from repeat visitors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, to Alec Guinness and Jean Claude van Damme; from Paul Newman to Roger Moore, and Michael Caine to the late, lamented Robin Williams; and from Madonna to Sharon Stone, and Patsy Kensit to Elizabeth Hurley, and special effects legend Ray Harryhausen to director Alan Parker and German pop star Marius Mueller-Westernhagen.

Meanwhile, Maltese actors and extras have graced the fore and backgrounds of many of these films, with the islands' language sometimes used either as itself or as a substitute for various others, in films  such as 'Midnight Express', 'Pulp' and 'Shout at the Devil'.

In a book that can be considered the first of its kind, Angela Peel has collected technical, historical and narrative information about each and every film completely or partly shot on these islands. It is an opus that has taken years of research and interviews with people who participated in the making of these movies, to put together. It is an easy on the eye, detailed and thorough compilation.

As Maltese film maker and actor Mark Doneo says in the book's foreword, Angela's fascination with the 'miraculous' world of film making originated from her close encounters with foreign film crews and mega film stars while on her day to day duties as a tourist guide. Her legitimate curiosity stemmed out of the desire to give 'added value' to the tourists entrusted in her care for the day. And so her 'journey' began.

It was an uphill struggle because information is hard to come by and references are few. However, Angela found the help of individuals who are passionate and seriously knowledgeable about the subject - enthusiasts such as the people behind the 'Filmed in Malta' Facebook page and staff who worked on various films. She also took it upon herself to trawl internet sites such as eBay to build up her own collection of the films with a Malta connection and thus be able to speak about them from first hand experience.

Considering the success of Malta-filmed movies at local cinema complexes, it is surely an understatement to say that Angela Peel's 'Malta on the Silver Screen' is a greatly overdue piece of work to be eagerly welcomed by all who have worked (or who currently do), study or are somehow connected to, or are interested in, the amazing world of film making. 

This book is testament, if ever one was needed, to the worldwide appeal our country has as a filming destination. Production companies from all over the world have brought their stories, talent and crews to our shores and directed their lenses towards our landscape, architecture and people.

The volume also contains a useful reference guide to locally-produced films, a sector that has seen much growth in recent years.

The book will be on sale from bookstores and souvenir shops in the coming days. One can also reserve a copy directly by visiting and liking our Facebook page "Malta on the Silver Screen", or contact the author directly on 00356 2146 1110 or 00356 9982 0624.





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