The Mandalorian Visits Lake Powell
Posted in: Entertainment on April 3, 2023.
Note: This post contains mild spoilers for The Mandalorian.
This post was originally published March 28th, 2023. It was updated April 3rd, 2023.
A Familiar Location
So we were watching Disney’s very popular space-western, The Mandalorian the other day. And wouldn’t you know it, but some very familiar scenery made an appearance on screen.
This last week’s episode Chapter 20: The Foundling saw the galaxy’s best bounty hunter (wait, is he even a bounty hunter anymore? how is he paying his bills these days?) the galaxy’s best adoptive father (there we go!) hang out with a bunch of fellow Mandalorians. And it seems like the whole enclave has set up shop on a desert planet on the edge of a pretty cool (and kinda dangerous) lake. And guess what… that’s Lake Powell! There are some other famous locations of the American Southwest that the filmmakers have used as backdrops. We’ll look at those too.
Lake Powell… in SPACE!
The real life Lake Powell is a man-made lake in Southern Utah. It’s a fantastic summer location for all sorts of water sports, and we’ve written a bunch about it before. But out in the Star Wars galaxy, it’s the perfect location for hiding out, and for a high-stakes rescue mission! (It’s also not the first time we’ve seen Lake Powell on screen, by the way.)
After scouting out were the little Mandalorian kid was taken to, Bo-Katan Kryze flies back to base with Shiprock in the background. Shiprock is a very famous landmark in New Mexico, near the Four Corners Monument.
The climactic climb to the nest, and the subsequent canyon chase to rescue the kid, are set against the backdrop of one of our favorite places in Southern Utah… Dead Horse Point State Park! We’ve written about that too, here.
See it All Yourself
For us, the coolest part about seeing familiar scenery in the background of our favorite television shows and films, is that we know that we can go see it in real life! So come visit Southern Utah, and pretend that you are hiding out deep in the Outer Rim!
Update: April 3rd, 2023
Ok, since we wrote this post, another episode of The Mandalorian has aired. And in the next chapter, we get some great aerial shots of Lake Powell as Captain Carson Teva flies over in his search for Mando. So we thought we’d add some of those photos too, just so you can admire one of our favorite lakes from above!
Not REALLY On Location
So it should be noted that The Mandalorian didn’t really take its actors on location to Lake Powell, or Dead Horse Point, or Shiprock, or practically anywhere. That’s because the team at Industrial Light and Magic, the company that handles the show’s massive special effects load, constructed a huge sphere of LED panels that the actors work inside. Pre-rendered scenes and destinations are projected onto the massive panels that allow the creatives to work and film like they were out on an alien planet, all while enjoying the benefits of a studio. Here’s a video that shows you how they pull this off:
So, while the actors who play the Mandalorains (and the puppeteers who controll Baby Yoda) never got to hangout in Lake Powell in person, somebody from the Industrial Light and Magic team did come out here and shoot a bunch of footage. That footage was compostited, cleaned-up, and projected into the LED sphere so the actors could move around, and climb cliff walls, like they were really in the deserts of Utah. Pretty cool. And we still get to feel like we’ve seen them really hanging out by the lake!