Iceland - Movie Locations

Iceland has provided the backdrop to many a movie in recent years.
February 15, 2019
Inga Rós Antoníusdóttir

Movies can be a great incentive to decide to visit a country or a specific location, and Iceland has provided the backdrop to many a movie in recent years. Dramatic landscapes with black sands, neon green mountains, snow capped lava fields, volcanoes and glaciers make Iceland the perfect filming location - and Hollywood has made great use of it. The chances are good for you to have seen some of the many movies located in Iceland. Even movies supposed to happen in locations that aren’t in realty based in Iceland, or even part of this world.

The secret life of Walter Mitty”, starring Ben Stiller, was filmed entirely in Iceland. Not only the scenes supposed to happen in Iceland, but also the ones the audience was convinced that were shot in Greenland and Afghanistan. I guess that tells you something about the diversity of Icelandic landscapes.  

Stykkishólmur where Walter MItty was filmed
Stykkisholmur which in Walter Mitty posed as Greenland

The world’s most popular tv-series, Game of Thrones, certainly put Iceland on the tv-map, so to speak. Icelandic landscapes play an important role in the storyline, representing the “Land Beyond The Wall”. Scenes with the Wildlings north of The Wall in seasons two and three were filmed at Svínafellsjökull Glacier and the nearby Skaftafell National Park. Lake Mývatn, in North Iceland, provided the perfect setting for the famous scene where Jon Snow breaks his vow with Ygritte.

James Bond has been filmed not just once, but twice, in Iceland. In 2002 “Die Another Day” featured Pierce Brosnan as 007, in what many have described as the most spectacular car chase on film. Bond driving his Aston Martin and the bad guy’s Jaguar sliding over the surface of the frozen Jökulsárlón lagoon, complete with huge scary icebergs.
Way back in 1985, “A View to Kill”, starring Roger Moore as 007 for the last time, Iceland was chosen as a filming location for political reasons. In this case, Iceland was supposed to be the USSR. It was actually one of the very few times that James Bond has not been filmed in the actual place it is supposed to be happening in. The opening scene was also filmed at Jökulsárlón, which at that point was nowhere as well known outside of Iceland as it was when Agent 007 returned in 2002.

Jökulárlón without James Bond
Jökulsárlón without James Bond

These are not the only epic car chases filmed in Iceland though. The newest Fast and Furious, filmed in 2017, was partly shot in Iceland and includes a magnificent car chase scene on frozen Lake Mývatn in the north of the country. To add some spice to the scene, a Russian submarine joins the chase, blasting through the ice!

Star Wars. As soon as the first footage was released in the “Rogue One” trailers, it was obvious that Icelandic nature would play a leading role in the movie. The iconic black sands and neon green moss mountains were an instant give-away. As earlier mentioned, Iceland often portrays “out of this world” landscapes and this movie is a prime example. In “Rogue One”, Iceland portrays the planet Lah’mu, with most scenes shot on the black and rugged Mýrdalssandur beach, close to Vík. You can get up close and personal with the area by joining one of our South Shore tours.

Vík in the south
Vík in the south

Speaking of different planets. In the movie Interstellar, 2 different locations in Iceland, represented a different planet each. The ever so popular Svínafellsjökull Glacier was one of them and Máfabót, located between the open sea and the river on the South Coast, was the other. Icelandic landscape was also featured heavily in promotional material for the film.

Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima offer two views of the same World War 2 battle in the Pacific, as seen from both sides and shot in 2 very different places of the world. Neither of which are the real locations of the events portrayed. Much of "Flags of Our Fathers" was shot in Iceland, on the Reykjanes Peninsula, while almost all of "Iwo Jima" was filmed in Southern California.

No wonder you might spot a film crew location scouting in Iceland. Every year dozens of film and tv-crews come looking for the most perfect spot for a movie or a single scene, not to mention all the ad-agencies and production companies that choose to shoot their client’s commercials in Iceland. Car commercials in particular, such as for Audi, Land Rover, Porsche and Mercedes Benz,have been shot all over the country.

So, tell us, what is the most perfect film location in Iceland in your opinion?

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