Fans of Ridley Scott’s historical Roman epic, charting the rise, fall, rise and death of wronged General Maximus Decimus Meridius (played by Russell Crowe) will be interested to hear that the scenes of Ancient Rome and the Colosseum were actually shot in neither. Instead, a million dollar replica of the city and its illustrious fighting stadium were constructed and filmed in Malta’s Fort Ricasoli. The film, which dominated the 73rd Academy Awards, included some brilliant scenes of Rusty doing somersaults while battling tigers.
Starring Brad Pitt and Australia’s own Eric Bana, Wolfgang Peterson’s loose adaptation of Homer’s Iliad was shot almost exclusively in Malta’s Mellieha, Fort Ricasoli and on Malta’s sister island Comino. An epic tale of wanton murder and betrayal, fuelled by an illicit royal affair, the film was purportedly produced on a budget of approximately $175 million – making it one of the most expensive ever made. In a damning demonstration that people learn nothing from history, the Turkish town of Canakkale accepted Pitt's gifting of the giant Trojan Horse maquette used in the film.
3. World War Z
When a zombie outbreak threatens the planet’s very existence, United Nations worker Gerry Lane (played by Malta-crazy Brad Pitt) decides to step in. Citing inspiration from All the President’s Men and The Bourne Identity, this 'politically-penetrating apocalyptic horror film' featured scenes shot in Malta’s Valletta, Cospicua, Vittoriosa and Senglea.
4. Orca - The Killer Whale
A captivating piece of 70s filmmaking wizardry, Orca: The Killer Whale tells the tale of a great white shark hunt gone horribly wrong. Captain Nolan, a salty Irish seadog looking to return to the country of his birth, accepts one last job to catch a great white shark for a local aquarium. But just as he is about to catch the shark, which is about to kill a canoeing scientist named Ken, a killer whale appears out of nowhere and kills the shark. Infuriated, Nolan harpoons the whale, but hits the wrong one – the whale's pregnant whale girlfriend! Understandably irate, the canny Orca bachelor now sets out laying waste to the entire fishing village; sinking boats, exploding the community’s fuel reserves, and chomping Nolan’s friend’s leg off when he attacks their seaside dwelling.The final, nail-biting scene, in which the Killer Orca lures Nolan out to the remote polar region of Labrador and sinks his boat by knocking an iceberg into it, was fabricated and filmed off the coast of Malta.
5. Swept Away
Popularly lauded as one of the worst movies ever made, Guy Ritchie’s Swept Away – starring his then-wife Madonna – marked the director’s filmmaking nadir. A right box-office disaster, the film scooped the 2002 Raspberry Awards and was the only movie ever to have won both Worst Picture and Worst remake or Sequel. What the film does have going for it is the setting, with Blue Lagoon, Vittoriosa and Mdina all featuring prominently as the stunning backdrop to the mismatched couple’s shipwrecked shenanigans.