I have a confession: I am obsessed with Iceland. I’ve only been there once, but I’ve been mesmerized by the place ever since. (Would you like to see my 3500 vacation photos? Seriously, I’d be happy to show you them. All of them. One by one.) So it was not terribly surprising to me that Iceland has become Hollywood location scouts’ darling of late. Being there, you cannot help but to feel that the Earth is a living thing, in constant flux—with thousands of dramatic waterfalls, volcanoes, geysers (in fact, the geyser), and otherworldly landscapes shaped by old and new eruptions, it’s a natural stand-in for both the beginning of time and the ends of the earth.
With Thor: The Dark World —filmed in part in Iceland—opening this weekend, I thought I’d take a look at some other science fiction and fantasy movies that have been shot on this spectacular island…
Game of Thrones
“When the long night comes, north of The Wall becomes the kingdom of the dead.” Special effects and method acting need not apply when filming endless winter in Iceland: in this featurette you can see “Jon Snow” and others discussing the icicles in their beards and the stupendous landscape. (Fun fact! During the filming for season 2, crew members would chip off ice from the ancient glaciers nearby to put in their drinks.)
Remember those innocent days when we were all stoked to see Prometheus? Listening to Ridley Scott’s Comic Con broadcast, I was excited to hear he was using Iceland to represent primordial Earth. I was less excited to realize, after seeing Prometheus, that Iceland was the only truly mind-bendingly awesome thing about the movie, particularly in that first scene revealing the origins of humanity in the dramatic Dettifoss waterfall.
Bruce Wayne learns his Batman-y ways in a Tibetan monastery—except Tibet is Svínafellsjökull, Iceland in this instance. Here Liam Neeson and Christian Bale engage in a classic training sequence on an icy glacier:
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Snæfellsjökull is a glacier-topped volcano on the western edge of the spectacular Sneafellsnes peninsula. Jules Verne made it the entrance to the center of the Earth in his famous novel, so it was a natural fit for the 2008 movie adaptation to be filmed there, as well!
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider seems to have gone all over the world for locations, including Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Incidentally, this location has also been used in at least two James Bond movies.
In Tom Cruise’s Oblivion, Iceland stands in for a post-apocalyptic and largely abandoned Earth. Sadly, like Prometheus, the look of the movie is its only real showstopper.
And now, for my Nordic fixation, two upcoming blockbusters:
Thor: The Dark World
It’s a homecoming of mythic proportions! Thor Two has used Iceland to stand n for the Dark World. Ther are so many reason to be looking forward to this movie, and Iceland IS ONE OF THEM.
Darren Aronofsky has been working on an adaptation of the biblical story of Noah, with Russell Crowe in the title role. The movie is slated for March 2014 and also stars Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, and Jennifer Connelly. Aronofsky has taken to sharing tidbits and shots of Iceland on his Twitter account, for those interested!