MALTA (10)


Today we’re going to the movies!

Malta’s been a popular filming location since 1925! For such a small island, it’s almost impossible to think that more than 117 films were either shot or set in Malta!

A few quick facts:

  • The first movie to be shot in Malta, was a silent movie called Sons of the Sea and was shot in 1925.
  • Nearly half of the 117 films were all from 2000 onwards.
  • The island’s natural beauty and the diverse architecture of Malta’s towns and villages, castles and towers are the main attraction to producers.

You might wonder which movies were shot in Malta … well, let’s just grab a few names from the (growing) list of 117:

  • 1980 – Popeye
  • 1981 – Clash of the Titans
  • 1992 – Christopher Columbus: The Discovery
  • 2000 – Gladiator
  • 2002 – The Count of Monte Cristo
  • 2004 – Troy
  • 2006 – The Da Vinci Code
  • 2010 – Game of Thrones
  • 2017 – Murder on the Orient Express

For this post, we will be focusing on the beautiful Anchor Bay where film-maker Robert Altman built the lovely town of Sweethaven for his 1980 film Popeye.

Popeye’s boat at the entrance of Popeye Village

The 17 painted wooden water’s-edge houses of tumble-down Sweethaven were revived several years ago and is now a great place for kids (and adults) to meet the characters of Popeye and Olive Oyl.

Walking down to Popeye Village
The lovely bay at Popeye Village

It was fascinating to see the little town of Sweethaven! The highly original houses were made by teams of labourers with wood brought all the way from Canada and the Netherlands.

The little town of Sweethaven

And as with any movie, we will entertain you with mostly just pictures in this post … for a few hours we’ve felt like the children in Sweethaven and enjoyed our time tremendously between the little houses and movie characters!

Our first stop – the Watch Post of Sweethaven
A walk to the General Store
Popeye & Olive’s house

To our delight, the characters of Popeye were walking around the village and entertained visitors with a few dances and photo opportunities.

Popeye’s characters performing a dance
We could always see the crystal-clear waters below Sweethaven
Sweethaven’s own Barber shop
Time for a visit to the dentist
Lovely wooden house and porch in Sweethaven
Popeye’s ‘magic potion’ – cans of spinach
Sweethaven’s piano
Memorabilia from the movie Popeye
Information about Robin Williams (Popeye) and Shelley Duvall (Olive Oyl)
Olive, Popeye & little Swee’Pea

According to Wikipedia the film was not the blockbuster that Paramount and Disney had expected, but it still earned more than double the film’s budget – a worldwide total of USD 60 million (sounds pretty decent to me for the year 1980).

The official poster of the movie Popeye
There’s even some clothes on the washing line
Christmas in Sweethaven
Another view of Anchor Bay
The interior of Sweethaven’s restaurant
A last look at the wooden houses of Sweethaven

And then, to add to our fun day at Popeye Village … we’ve met the two main characters of Popeye. Olive Oyl was quite impressed with Berto’s muscles, while I on the other hand, had a chance to get closer to Popeye’s muscles 😄.

Berto strike a pose with Olive Oyl
Even I can say: Popeye’s a very strong man

What a fun day we had here at Popeye Village! We hope you’ve enjoyed this just as much as we did!

In our next post about our visits to Malta, we will be taking the ferry and visit the equally beautiful sister island Gozo. It promises to be a trip with more stunning views, a cathedral and a visit to another ancient temple.

We have done these trips in 2011 & 2013

36 thoughts on “MALTA (10)

  1. The things you find in out of the way places!? There is no way I would have thought of Popeye and Malta in the same sentence! Thanks for the tour and views of that beautiful harbour. How gorgeous would it be to dive into those waters right now? I feel much warmer just looking at them, Thanks for the little bit of escapism, Mel

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly! It was as if we were transferred to another world when seeing Popeye Village – Popeye and Malta just never came to my mind in the same sentence 😄. That lovely bay is part of the entrance fee into Popeye Village and many visitors made use of the cool waters after they’ve walked through the village. I’m happy you could escape for a few minutes 😉.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. My brother had a toy boxing set with Popeye and Bluto as the boxers (and I always had to be Bluto and my brother was Popeye – needless to say that I never won 😄) … and to see this years later, brought back many wonderful childhood memories!

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  2. I’m not really a fan of the film (though I love Robin Williams), but would nevertheless love to stroll around the charming village/set with my camera. The backdrop with the clear turquoise water and the cliffs is enchanting. I am much more aware of what Malta has to offer thanks to your posts. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m also a fan of Robin Williams (Popeye was probably one his more mediocre films), but it was really great to walk around this village … maybe it was so nice because of my childhood memories – my brother and I often played with his Popeye boxing set while watching the cartoon version of Popeye 😊. But you’re right, the clear water and white cliffs did add to the magic of that day!
      Thanks for (still) reading about our Malta trips – in our next posts we’re off to its sister-island Gozo … more beautiful old buildings and stunning views!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I really found Malta to be a beautiful island … maybe because I haven’t been around to many other places, but I was just so amazed at how much history one could find on such a small island! Be warned, Popeye is not the greatest movie, but it sure has its moments … it was after all made in 1980 😄.

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  3. Your shots are amazing, Corna! And I enjoyed getting to see your & hubby’s faces! I’ve never seen the movie Popeye, but now I’m gonna look for it. But I can tell you that Popeye the Sailor Man was my favorite cartoon when I was a kid, and this post brought back so many memories! Thanks for sharing these lovely photos & prompting my nostalgia! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Lisa! My brother and I loved Popeye the Sailor Man when we were kids – so for me this movie set also brought back wonderful childhood memories! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this post … and although we are now 7 years older when those photo’s were taken … I think we still look more or less the same (maybe just with a few extra wrinkles 😉).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Having spent a month on Malta, I had never even heard of this place.

    I knw Malta was a big film location (like Morocco and Tunisia prior to the disastrous “Arab Spring”) and also has a sad piece of film history attached to it. The excellent actor and absolutely legendary hell-raiser Oliver Reed died there during the making of Gladiator. He was 61, the same age I am now and can barely walk and yet, it is reported that on the day of his death he drank eight pints of lager, twelve shots of rum and a few more of cognac with half a bottle of whiskey on top for good measure. He had got himself into a drinking competition with some young, fit British sailors in a bar and had beaten at least five of them in arm-wrestling competitions. All this before 1430 in the afternoon! What a way to go, he died as he had lived. Top man.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We did not know of Popeye Village on our first visit, but as we’ve stayed in Mellieha on our return, we had a look at what was close-by and that’s how we’ve learned of this film location.
      What an extraordinary story about Oliver Reed … gosh, he was a very fit drinking man. I remember him for his role in Gladiator (may I add, one of my all-time favourite films).
      I remember that we’ve missed Brad Pitt with just a day on our first visit to Malta in 2011 – he was working on the movie World War Z at the time … that would have been something to see him in the streets of Malta!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is always amazing what you can find if you look round. I don’t ever read guide books etc. before I go to a place, I just turn up and see what I can find. I know you have read a lot of my nonsense so you probably know this already.

        As for Ollie Reed, ys, he is a hero of mine. A screeching alcoholic (I can relate to that), but still functioned as a superb actor even if he could be a complete asshole. Again, I can relate. ! Guys like him don’t come along too often.

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