Mad Max causes rage in world’s old­est desert

Lesotho Times - - Entertainment -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — The Namib­ian desert, with its stark, lu­nar land­scape, makes an ideal dra­matic back­drop for a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic movie.

Max Max: Fury Road, which on Sun­day won six Os­cars, was filmed in this desert’s dusty dunes. The pro­duc­tion re­lo­cated to Namibia from Aus­tralia af­ter un­usu­ally heavy rains Down Un­der turned a nor­mally dry land­scape green.

But while parts of Namibia have the look of a waste­land, this rugged ex­te­rior hosts a frag­ile ecosys­tem. Res­i­dents and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have com­plained that the film crew’s work in the Namib Desert caused dam­age to sen­si­tive ar­eas, and po­ten­tially to the small rep­tiles and rare cacti that live there.

Much of the film­ing, which took place in 2012, was based in Dorob Na­tional Park near Swakop­mund, a for­mer Ger­man set­tle­ment and re­sort town on the south­ern At­lantic coast.

A tour guide who works in the area ac­cused the Mad Max crew of film­ing in a sen­si­tive area of the park’s sand dune belt, lo­cal me­dia re­ported at the time.

The crew was also ac­cused of leav­ing tire tracks in pre­vi­ously un­touched ar­eas.

The Namib Desert — the world’s old­est, es­ti­mated at be­tween 50 to 80 mil­lion years old — stretches from north­ern South Africa to An­gola.

The most arid parts of the desert re­ceive less than half an inch of rain a year, mak­ing the plant and an­i­mal life de­pen­dent on fog that rolls in from the ocean.

Tire tracks on the desert’s gravel plains can take decades or more to dis­ap­pear.

“What is worse is the film crew tried to re­move the marks they left them­selves by drag­ging nets over them, rip­ping plants out,” the guide, Tommy Col­lard, told AFP. “One can­not re­ha­bil­i­tate the land­scape of the Namib Desert.”

The draft of an in­de­pen­dent en­vi­ron­men­tal re­port, leaked in 2013, also claimed that sen­si­tive ar­eas had been dam­aged.

The re­port said that pub­lic and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sul­ta­tion prior to the film­ing was in­suf­fi­cient. Ac­cord­ing to the re­searcher, Joh Hen­schel, the film was granted per­mis­sion be­fore new en­vi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion took ef­fect.

But the govern­ment-run Namibia Film Com­mis­sion an­grily de­nied any is­sues with the film­ing, plac­ing a full-page ad in a lo­cal news­pa­per pro­claim­ing that they gave Mad Max: Fury Road a «clean bill.»

In any event, the Academy didn’t take en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact into ac­count dol­ing out its awards. — Globalpost

CRAGGY rocks and bar­ren moun­tain out­crops form a lu­nar land­scape in the namib Desert, the old­est desert in the world. Be­cause of its post-apoc­a­lyp­tic set­ting, the film ‘Mad Max Fury Road’ was shot here.

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