Icelandic Language Blog

Beyond the Wall Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in Icelandic culture, Uncategorized

base028The unique nature of the country may be what comes to mind first when people think of Iceland, and this is certainly the case with film makers searching for beautiful, yet easy to access backgrounds. It’s quite well known that the recent Thor: The Dark World movie had parts that were filmed here, especially since Tom Hiddleston tweeted from outside Cafe Loki downtown (link), which went sort of viral on Tumblr (Loki is located right next to Hallgrímskirkja, just in case you’re a fan *wink wink nudge nudge*).

Other movies that were shot partially in Iceland are for example the Bond movies A View to a Kill and Die Another Day, both of which have scenes shot at Jökulsárlón, the same site that’s also been used for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Batman Begins used Vatnajökull, and Prometheus had an even more varying Icelandic landscape being shot near or at the volcano Hekla, the waterfall Dettifoss and the Vatnajökull National Park. The best thing for the fans? All of these locations are easily accessible! For the Thor fans, Skogafoss is located a few hour’s drive to the south along Ring Road 1, as is Vatnajökull National Park and also Jökulsárlón further along the road. For the latter two it might be more comfortable to find a place to stay overnight though, as the drive there and back from Reykjavík takes all day.


Hekla, however, is very close to Reykjavík, something that the media abroad likes to use to spook people with – an active volcano, so close to the capital! Oh no! Except that Hekla is actually considered far less dangerous than f.ex. Katla, or the Eyjafjallajökull area volcanoes, since Hekla is not sub-glacial and does therefore not cause glacier floods which are perhaps the most feared result of a volcanic eruption over here. They wash away whole roads, houses, cars and anyone who  gets in their way, and are largely responsible for the fact that the highlands of Iceland remain barren and lifeless. There may once upon a time have been growth and greenness, but then a catastrophic flood happened and washed away absolutely everything on its way. However, it also carved Dettifoss into existence, which is located up north a bit east of the Mývatn area.

ct196Beyond the Wall in the summertime, in other words Mývatn.

…and that brings me nicely to the next topic: if you thought I wouldn’t mention Game of Thrones you were totally wrong. 😀 Possibly the most well-known use of Icelandic landscapes aside of the Thor movie, using both of the Þingvellir-, Vík- and the Mývatn areas, took place in the early spring and the late summer/early autumn of 2012. This happened for a reason: Mývatn was used for the scenes that happened beyond the wall and needed a good layer of snow, and snow they indeed got aplenty (link). Another important thing that Iceland has to offer for film crews is, well, Icelanders. The very people who can deal with the nature here, know its dangers and what limitations it brings, are used to the elements and are rather good at weather-related practical problem solving! Here’s an Icelandic tv-show’s report on the filming which might interest you – it has both English and Icelandic subtitles (link).


Mývatnssvæði, just like the other locations, is fairly easy to reach although going there may take a while. You can of course head to the filming sites on your own – by taking a bus, or renting a car and driving along the Ring Road 1 until you find them – or get on a guided tour. Iceland Travel (link) is even offering travelers Game of Thrones -tours (link) that last for one whole day. You won’t have to search for the places yourself (Mývatn is a large area, finding the stone columns etc. may take a while), instead you’ll be going straight for the main sites, including the cave where That Scene between Jon Snow and Ygritte happened. 😉 You’ll likely also get to see a few other wonders of Icelandic nature, hear some interesting stories from behind the scenes, learn how Icelanders have survived on this snowy, cold, occasionally hostile but beautiful island since the Age of the Settlement, and finish the day at the Mývatn natural spa. Just for safety’s sake, White Walkers/Others are referred to as “Hina” in Icelandic so if you hear someone shout that – or the three blows of horn – evacuate the area in an orderly manner and let your guide fight them off. I hear they receive special training for it.

More Game of Thrones -related Icelandic right here. 😀

Hulda recommends musichulda078

Tilbury is a fairly new band to me and I cannot help but love their sound. As an additional plus, their video for the song “Tenderloin” is pieced together from the Icelandic cult classic horror movie, Tilbury. The movie will open up a lot better if you know enough of Iceland’s legendary monsters, in particular the tilberi.

Tenderloin (link).
Drama (link).
Slow Motion Fighter (link).


All photos in this entry belong to me.

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About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!