Icelandic Language Blog

Movies in Iceland Posted by on Sep 23, 2011 in Icelandic culture

The film festival starts soon. They show movies from all over, mostly with English subtitles (Icelandic movies tend to have no subtitles at all, especially the short films from the film schools) and the venues are likewise all over. There’s movies held in the swimming pool, at the University movie theater, at the Nordic house, and at regular theaters downtown. The movies don’t always come to DVD afterwards.

Here’s an ad for one movie showing at the festival:
Á annan veg:

Here’s a schedule for movies that were showing in the summer:

When at a regular theater (not a part of the film festival) movies usually have an intermission in the middle that lasts for five or ten minutes, like they used to have in other countries.

Usually children’s movies are dubbed in Icelandic, but movies for older people are subtitled. Sometimes they’re not even subtitled – English movies might not have Icelandic subtitles on the official DVD or when showing at the theater, but on television they always will. Icelandic movies on the other hand, almost never seem to have subtitles in Icelandic whether they’re showing on television or released on DVD.

Íslenskt tal – “Icelandic language”, it means this has been dubbed into Icelandic. Often if a movie isn’t specifically Icelandic the store or library will put an Icelandic flag sticker on the DVD case if there’s Icelandic sound or text.
Bíó – movie theater
Bíómynd – movie theater movie
Kvíkmynd – movie
Mynd – picture
“Kvík” is an old word for “alive”, so “kvíkmynd” means “living picture”. Kvíkmynd and mynd seem to be used about the same amount, but bíómynd doesn’t seem to be used as much (just from what I’ve seen).

Probably the most well-known Icelandic kid’s show is Lazy Town (even if you haven’t seen it you’ve heard of it, in Iceland). They’ve dubbed popular cartoons such as the Moomins and Pokémon into Icelandic, and Disney movies are also dubbed. Just because the series aired on television doesn’t mean they ever released tapes or DVDs of it, though.

Iceland also shows the most popular European and American movies in theaters as they come out and the popular tv series air too, although I don’t know what the ratio is between American and European, or of Nordic. If the movies didn’t show in the theater you can certainly find them on DVD in stores, and stores will have 1.000kr sales or even 500kr DVD sales sometimes. Often I notice when I’m in a convenience store that DVDs that came out five or ten years ago are still being sold casually as if they’re new.

Sometimes in Nordic DVDs there will be Icelandic dubs or subs as well. For example, in some of the Swedish DVD releases of the Pokémon movies and for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, they also had Icelandic dubs on the same disk. You can try looking for Nordic-language releases of a cartoon if you’re looking for the Icelandic dub, because it might be easier to find that then to search solely for the Icelandic version.

You might be able to find something in Icelandic or subtitled here:

Look for movie subtitles here in case you need a different language:

Buy movies at these places: (used stuff site – maybe the sellers are willing to ship outside of Iceland, also most speak English well) – pay a few Euros, watch Icelandic movies (some are free). There’s some music too. I recommend Mama Gogo, I watched it at the film festival last year and thought it was good.

If anyone knows where I can get the movie “The Palace / Höllin” about the Reykjavík swimming pool, let me know please.

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About the Author: sequoia

I try to write about two-thirds of the blog topics on cultural aspects and one-third on the language, because there's much more out there already on the language compared to daily life information. I try to stay away from touristy things because there's more of that out there than anything else on Iceland, and I feel like talking about that stuff gives you the wrong impression of Iceland.