Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Iceland on the silver screen
“I have wanted to shoot in Iceland since I first visited in the 90’s. It is one of the most unique and inspiring landscapes on the planet,” says director Darren Aronofsky, whose epic tale of an ark builder called Noah (2014) was shot in Iceland. But, Aronofsky is hardly the only one. Filmmakers have long been lured to Iceland, inspired by its beauty, long daylight hours, and the varied landscapes that make it possible to create different worlds, all within a short distance.
“I have wanted to shoot in Iceland since I first visited in the 90’s. It is one of the most unique and inspiring landscapes on the planet,”
Many may remember Clint Eastwood’s epic WW II drama, The Flags of Our Fathers (2006), depicting one side of the battle for Iwo Jima, and the men who were eternalized in one of the most iconic war photographs or our times. The film was shot almost entirely Reykjanes peninsula. Another example is Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), which was also shot largely in Iceland, with the country standing in for locations in Greenland, Afghanistan and the Himalayas (and Iceland, of course).
Lara Croft’s adventures in Tomb Raider (2001) were partially set in Siberia, with the Icelandic glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón standing in representing the icy tundra. Later, James Bond was involved in an epic car chase along the ice covered surface of the same lagoon in Die Another Day (2002). Interestingly enough, the very same lagoon was also used to shoot the opening scenes of A View to a Kill (1985), with Bond showing his considerable skiing talent in a wild escape from Russian baddies. In 2005, a ragged Bruce Wayne travelled to Bhutan to train with his mentor and later arch-villain Ra’s al Ghul and League of Shadows, in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. As you may have guessed, these scenes were shot in Iceland, with the big fight shot in the exact same glacial lagoon.
While other superheroes, such as, Judge Dredd (1995) and The Mighty Thor (2013’s Thor: The Dark World) have also been filmed in Iceland, the otherworldly scenery has been used creatively in the sci-fi genre to stand in for both foreign planets, and post-apocalyptic earth. Prometheus (2013), Ridley Scott’s prequel to the Alien franchise, was largely shot in Iceland, with the particularly riveting opening scene shot by the waterfall Dettifoss. In Oblivion, Tom Cruise was also seen racing along the black sands of the Icelandic interior, which served as a version of a New England, following a nuclear war. Scenes from Interstellar (2014) and Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) were also shot in Iceland.
Speaking of otherworldly locations, Iceland has been featured frequently in the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. Scenes taking place North of the Wall are commonly shot in Iceland, but Icelandic nature can also be seen in other parts of
Westeros. And, it’s not only Icelandic nature that has been present on the show. Both Icelandic band Sigur Ros, and World Strongest Man competitor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson have been featured as well.
Interested visitors can travel around the country visiting familiar scenes, which have been marked on a map at www.filminiceland.com.