Road trips are the coolest ways to experience a destination, and driving the twisting route through Morocco in High Atlas country is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. The vistas are astonishing, blue skies, snow-capped mountains, and dusty brown earth. Travel into Morocco’s colossal cities and take a walk through the winding alleys and bustling souks of the medinas. Head to Merzouga and continue into the Sahara Desert on a camel, marvel at the vivid glow as the sun makes its descent on the horizon.
If you can’t travel (because of a pandemic), streaming movies and TV shows are the next best thing. Morocco’s vibrant cities, beautiful landscape and friendly people have inspired producers to shoot on location in Africa’s northern country. The town of Ouarzazate, Morocco’s gateway to the Sahara, is home to Atlas Studios, the largest (by landmass) studio in the world. These five films and one television show have interesting stories that will take you on a journey through Morocco without ever leaving your couch.
1. Gladiator (2000)
Producer Ridley Scott is no stranger to filming in Morocco and has used the country as a backdrop for several movies. Filmed on location in Ouarzazate, the Academy award-winning historical drama, Gladiator is his most iconic. It stars Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix in a story about power, jealousy, and revenge set in Roman times.
Where to Watch it? Gladiator is available on YouTube, Google Play and Amazon Prime for $2.99.
2. The Mummy Returns (2000)
This sequel to The Mummy is an action-adventure that transports you to the breathtaking landscape of the Erg Chebbi Dunes at Merzouga. In The Mummy Returns, an ancient Egyptian curse is unleashed. When an evil mummy is resurrected, supernatural armies from the Underworld battle.
Where to Watch it? The Mummy Returns is available on YouTube, Google Play and Amazon Prime for $3.99.
3. Queen of the Desert (2015)
Though the movie is about the Middle East, it depicts the life and fire of Morocco, beautifully filmed in the cities of Marrakech, Merzouga, Ouarzazate, and Erfoud. The Queen of the Desert is based on the true-story of Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman), a trailblazing British explorer ahead of her time. In her quest to unite people from distinct cultures, she was once considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.
Where to Watch it? Queen of the Desert is available on Amazon Prime for $2.99 and on iTunes for $4.99.
4. Desert Dancer (2014)
Filmed in the desert city of Erfoud and the more metropolitan Casablanca. Desert Dancer is brilliantly choreographed by Akram Khan, the extraordinary choreographer whose work was featured in the London Summer Olympics opening ceremonies. The movie follows the true-story of exiled Iranian dancer Afshin Ghaffarian (Reece Ritchie). In the political climate of 2009 Tehran, the nation banned dance. Ghaffarian spent his childhood secretly attending an art school and later formed an underground dance company. His desert dance scene with actress Freida Pinto is the most stunning poetry of dance, location, and cinematography. Ghaffarian risked his life to become a dancer before fleeing his country.
Where to Watch it? Desert Dancer is available on Amazon Prime, Google Play and YouTube for $3.99.
5. Sex and the City 2 (2010)
It’s a girl’s trip filled with fun, fashion, and laughs. The souks of Marrakech and the Sahara Desert are the backdrop for Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda’s adventure to the Middle East. The Abu Dhabi scenes in the movie are shot on location in Morocco. Ladies bring your squad along on this Sex and the City 2 Moroccan journey, while you Netflix and Chat using Google Chrome’s Netflix Party App.
Where to Watch it? Sex and the City 2 is available on Netflix. Connect through Google Chrome for an interactive experience with friends.
5. Casablanca (1942)
Even though this Academy Award-winning film was entirely shot at Warner Bros. Studios in California, I had to include it in my list. This romantic drama is set during WWII. Nightclub owner, Rick (Humphrey Bogart), must decide whether to help an old flame (Ingrid Bergman) and her husband flee Casablanca from the Germans.
I had the pleasure of eating lunch at Casablanca’s Rick’s Cafe, a replica to the nightclub.
Where to Watch it? Casablanca is available on Hulu with subscription and on YouTube, Amazon Prime, & Google Play for $3.99.
6. Game of Thrones (TV Series)
Game of Thrones was filmed in stunning places throughout Morocco. If you are a fan of HBO’s legendary show you have seen Essaouira, an old Moroccan trade colony, used for the scenes where Daenry recruits her army of Unsullied. The most recognizable set location in Morocco is located several miles from Marrakech, at the magnificent fortified city, the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou. It is at this site where Khaleesi freed the Yunkai
Where to Watch it? Game of Thrones is streaming on Hulu, HBO and Amazon Prime. Please Note: Watch Season 3 for the Morocco scenes.
Viewing these movies inspired me to not only put Morocco on my bucket list but to travel there last year. If you have been to Morocco, it is fun to connect places you’ve visited with the set locations of films or shows you are watching. If you have not made the excursion to this beautiful country, grab a bowl of popcorn, sit back and turn on one of these five movies or watch Season 3 of Game of Thrones. Take the journey and fall in love with Morocco like I did.