The soaring majesty of Iceland’s waterfalls and glaciers, and the otherworldly look of its black volcanic landscapes have provided film makers from Christopher Nolan with his hit film Interstellar to Clint Eastwood with both Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers with the perfect backdrops for their movies. The Star Wars prequel, The Force Awakens, was partly filmed in Iceland too.
Although Iceland has been used as a location for films for nearly a hundred years, since the 1920s, the recent boom has meant that 17 production companies have been formed recently in the country to assist in making films there.
“Interstellar was my second time filming in Iceland and it was another worldly experience,” Christopher Nolan told Film In Iceland. “Iceland truly represents the beautiful extremes the nature has to offer.”
The inhospitable landscape was perfect for scenes in Interstellar where the crew lands on a planet which has sub zero temperatures which cannot support human life without special protective clothing. These moments were filmed on top of Svinafellsjokull, the blue ice glacier in the Skaftafell National Park. It is to be found near Iceland’s largest glacier, Vatnajokull, which is another favourite backdrop for film makers.
Fans of Game of Thrones will recognise Thingvellir National Park from Arya’s storyline as it stands in for the North of Westeros in the series, where the battle of the Hound and Brienne took place.
The rise in films and TV series set in the region may be no coincidence: since 1999 Iceland’s government has offered producers 20% reimbursement of their costs when they make use of the country’s locations.
And it seems to be working. Much like the use of New Zealand for locations in the blockbuster Lord of the Rings trilogy prompted many film fans to travel and even move to the country when they were released from 2001 onwards, these new films set in Iceland have seen tourists flock to the locations that they see onscreen.