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Since the dawn of the age of cinema, filmmakers have gone in search of the Earth’s most dramatic, visually intense landscapes in which to capture their stories, and Iceland filming locations have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Of the many incredible locations on film, perhaps the most suited to the big (and little) screen is Iceland – a surreal, otherworldly expanse of volcanic topography and groaning glaciers.
Iceland and cinema go hand in hand; from fire and brimstone to icy wastes, countless artistic visions have been brought to life in this barren, beautiful world.
Iceland Movie Locations
Thingvellir National Park – A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones is a cultural phenomenon; you’ve almost certainly heard of it by now, even if you’ve yet to see it!
HBO’s sprawling, melodramatic epic fantasy is adapted from a series of books called “A Song of Ice and Fire” – what more fitting location than Iceland, home of lava fields and snowy expanses?
The scenes set in Westeros’ far north, a harsh land of barbarian tribes and macabre undead spectres, are largely shot in Thingveller National Park.
Christopher Nolan’s most recent blockbuster is an extrasolar adventure of mind-bending proportions, taking its characters through a wormhole to far-away planets, where the gravitational effects of a nearby black hole have led to the formation of planets very different from our own.
The alien, ice-cold beauty of Svínafellsjökull in Skaftafell National Park proved ideal, unsurprisingly, for Nolan’s purposes.
Jökulsárlón – Die Another Day
One of England’s biggest cultural exports also got his day in the 24-hour sun; James Bond’s momentous 20th entry (also Brosnan’s last) used the glacial lake Jökulsárlón to film the climactic, adrenaline-fuelled car chase.
Jökulsárlón’s 18km squared of icy water rests beneath a 3,000 feet ice cap, and stretches 250m down into the earth, making it Iceland’s deepest lake.
Vatnajökull National Park – Batman Begins
Vatnajökull National Park
Nolan seems to have a fondness for Iceland – the first entry in his iconic, critically acclaimed Batman trilogy also had scenes filmed here.
This time Vatnajökull National Park was used as a stand-in for Bhutan – the crew built an actual temple in which to shoot Batman’s rigorous training sessions.
Vatnajökull itself is one of the largest glaciers in Europe; it looks incredible on film, and even more so in real life.
Dettifoss – Prometheus
Ridley Scott’s ambitious prequel to Alien, the seminal sci-fi horror series, takes its characters on an odyssey to an alien planet where human life is thought to have originated.
The unforgettable opening shot, featuring a mysterious alien performing some kind of ritual atop a massive, raging waterfall, was shot in Vatnajökull National Park; the waterfall was Dettifoss, thought to be the most powerful in all of Europe.
Dark, turbulent waters plunge over the precipice, evoking the sensation of a truly alien land.
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