Future Travel

Iceland is one big movie set

2 Comments 27 March 2012


I watched a promo clip for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus the other day and immediately suspected some of it must have been shot in Iceland. A few clicks later my suspicions were confirmed. Apparently he filmed about 12-15 minutes of his Alien prequel on location near the “Hekla” volcano on the south coast of Iceland. The scenes involve the ‘creation of the world’ that his intrepid crew visit, which for visitors to this wild and beautiful island will come as no great surprise since much of its landscape looks like a another planet and one in its early stages at that.

Of course he’s not the first director to fall in love with Iceland’s unique geology which got me researching the top movies filmed there.

Perhaps the most famous is Batman Begins where Christopher Nolan shot the remote ‘Tibetan Himalayas’ scenes at Öræfasveit, Vatnajökulsand and Svínafellsjökuls. Funnily enough I never made the connection with Iceland although I clearly remember Bruce Wayne’s long trek to seek counsel with the mysterious ninja leader Ra’s Al Ghul. Apparently the swordfight between Wayne and Ducard really was also filmed on the location’s glacial ice.

Iceland has also hosted two Bond movies. Rogers Moore’s last outing as 007 in a View to a Kill saw the pre-credits ‘Siberia’ teaser shot at Glacier Lake, on the southeast tip of the huge Vatnajökull Glacier and the tiny hamlet of Höfn on the southeast coast of Iceland. You can visit the glacier though be warned, the Vatnajökull volcano erupted under the ice-sheet in 1996! In Die another Day, Graves’s ice palace was located in Iceland, with the ice chase filmed on the frozen Lake Jokulsarlon, near Hofn.

More recently HBOs Game of Thrones decamp to Iceland on a regular basis and with good reason. Based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, the books are set ‘in a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime’. Sounds familiar. And this coming summer sees Tom Cruise (no less) head to Iceland to film Oblivion, Universal’s new movie about a soldier sent to earth to destroy an evil alien creature. In the movie, the desolate landscapes in Iceland will represent earth in the future after it has become uninhabitable.

I’m sure you’re beginning to spot a pattern here; ‘the creation of the world’, ‘remote’, ‘a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime’, ‘earth in the future after it has become uninhabitable’. It paints a grim picture. Iceland’s geology is all of these but importantly it is also a hauntingly beautiful and peaceful place and I like many others before me have fallen in love with it.

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2 Comments so far

  1. I did not know of many movies filmed in Iceland (except 007) because unfortunately I have not visited! I proposed to go in August with my family, but my wife was worried about the cold so we opted for Mexico.

    • O.C. Heaton says:

      Hi Brian – its a great country. We went in August. We had no problems with the cold. Just the light! At that time of year it is virtually constant 24/7. Very surreal but also very moving. A truely unique experience and I can’t recommend it highly enough particularly REykjavik and the Blue Lagoon.

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