The Best Films to Watch and Books to Read During COVID-19 Lockdown

COVID-19 in the World

As the epidemic continues to unravel in Europe and the United States, one-third of the world’s population is now in lockdown, supporting medical workers by staying at home and practicing social distancing. According to John Hopkins University’s COVID-19 pandemic tracker, on April 2nd, the number of people who are infected with coronavirus has reached more than one million. In regions like South Europe and some American states, the situation has been tough. The disruption and distress that COVID-19 has caused are immeasurable.

Meanwhile, we also see determined medical workers fighting on the front-line days in and days out, while most governments do their best to deliver information in earnest. As we remain in lockdown, we help protect the vulnerable and stop spreading the virus.

COVID-19 in Iceland

COVID-19 in Iceland

Compared to fighting over the last toilet roll in some European countries, things are going relatively calmly in Iceland. Our government has raised the alert level to the highest, the maximum attendance for social gatherings has been reduced to 20 and people have been advised to stay at home. Measures are in place to recommend thorough hand-washing, and for those office workers, companies have implemented safety precautions, putting the health of customers and staff as a priority. Deluxe Iceland is no exception.

By April 1st, Iceland had over 1300 confirmed cases, unfortunately including four deaths. The Icelandic government is now actively looking for reliable means of stocking up its medical supply, making sure that the entire nation is protected. So far, from the official data, Iceland is doing an excellent job in testing, and the daily number for new cases has been steady, making the flattening-the-curve as much as possible. Icelanders are optimistic and remain diligent in containing the epidemic.


Filmed in Iceland – Best Movies to Watch During Lockdown

While we are optimistic about normality soon being restored, our fingers are crossed for fast recoveries and good health, we can do our bit by staying inside, avoiding contact with people outside of our households and use the quiet lockdown time to catch up on some good movies filmed and set in Iceland! We have shortlisted several movies with the intention of getting through this difficult time together, and learning about Iceland, the land of ice and fire, as we go!


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller is the stand out performer in his comedy movies. The drama is even more fascinating when he takes his hero and adventures to Iceland!

Released in 2013, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” revolves around an ordinary man with an ordinary day job and an extraordinary daydream. The movie captures the excitement Icelandic nature has to offer, highlights including waterfalls, glaciers, nordic houses, and even the notoriously-hard-to-pronounce Icelandic volcano plays a key part in the plot line of this film! You can listen out for some questionable Icelandic vocabulary from Ben Stiller, but in summary, the movie is a splendid choice for those who dream of Iceland’s vibrant summer colors while staying at home during the lockdown.

Location:

Stykkishólmur – a vibrant harbor town in the famous Snaefellsnes Peninsula, where you can find the best dry fish in Iceland, just ask our guide.

Seyðisfjörður – a charming village in East Iceland where you will travel along the meandering roads with fabulous sceneries alongside.

Vatnajökull National Park – Iceland’s largest glacier and Europe’s most voluminous. The movie’s most icy scene was taken on one of the glacier tongues on Vatnajokull.

Höfn – many visitors also call it lobster town since it’s famous for its North Atlantic lobster dishes. It’s located in the southeast as a popular stop for the Ring Road trip in Iceland.

Prometheus – Dettifoss

Prometheus

Ridley Scott’s Sci-Fi movie takes place on the Prometheus spaceship, with the events taking place in the late 21st century. The futurist wild nature in these epic scenes was purely Icelandic. Many popular destinations were being transformed in the hands of the film editor as if the alien planet does exit with such amazing landscapes.

Location:

Dettifoss Waterfall, North Iceland – Europe’s most powerful waterfall, you will feel dwarfed by its sheer size, grand movement, and massive energy. The scenery in winter is drastically different from that of the summer.

Hekla Volcano, South Iceland – this one is an active volcano located in South Iceland.

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

This three-times Oscar nominated ( Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Cinematography, and Best Motion Picture of the Year) blockbuster starring Brad Pitt & Sean Penn,tells the story of The Tree of Life. The film delves into the origin and meaning of life, with scenes shot in iceland used to represent the “young earth.” There’s no better place than Iceland to set up this impressionistic story.

The most stunning scenes in the movies were filmed in North Iceland, where you will see unbelievable landscapes formed from geothermal activities.

Location:

The Krafla Volcano, North Iceland – 818 meters (feet) above sea level, Krafla is a volcanic crater located in a long fissure north to the Myvatn region. The geothermal area has a lot to see including boiling mud pools and steaming fumaroles.

Námafjall, North Iceland – only a short distance from the Krafla volcano system is Námafjall, a mountainous area surrounded by unforgettable landscapes with spectacular views that are powered by relentless volcanic energy.

Interstellar

Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s Sci-fi hit movie, starring Matthew McConaughey, also took its interplanetary journey via the natural film set that is Iceland. The dramatic landscapes in Iceland can offer sets beyond moviemakers’ imaginations, as seen in this space movie of which there are two vastly different planets. If you want to get a preview of what you are going to see in Iceland while enjoying a fantastic fiction, watch Interstellar.

Location:

Svínafellsjökull glacier, South Iceland – As one of the glacier tongues stretching out of the massive Vatnajokull glacier, Svinafellsjokull is a popular destination for glacier hiking adventures.

Máfabót, South Iceland – it’s likely that we can’t visit this place, but we can enjoy its view in the movie for sure. The movie crew had to use enhanced and adapted trucks to pave roads to transport the filming equipment.

Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World

Marvel’s well-received superhero franchise Thor is another success worth mentioning on our best movies set in Iceland to watch during a lockdown. The film has scenes in many of Iceland’s most stunning attractions. A Norse god, Thor,  Þór – in Icelandic, is the god that represents many powers. He is the guardian of the Realm of Asgard who is the embodiment of the god of thunder. The Icelandic vast volcanic landscapes painted the perfect backdrop for the story.

Location:

Skogafoss waterfall, South Iceland – the magnificent waterfall fueled the inspiration of many filmmakers for its massive cascade and overwhelming presence. There are two ways to see Skogafoss: standing in a distance at the bottom and walking up to the top of the hill.

Fjaðrárgljúfur, Feather Canyon – an icon of Iceland. 9000 years ago, the glacial meltwater kept rushing to the southern shore and taking away softer rocks on its way to the ocean, beautifully carved out the serpentine canyon.

Asbyrgi, North Iceland – Asbyrgi is a glacial canyon located within Iceland’s highlight route “the Diamond Circle.” The dramatic landscape at Asbyrgi is a combination of striking cliffs and lush birch trees. It’s especially spectacular when you fly over on a helicopter.

Landmannalaugar, Central Highlands – there’s no other place in the world where you can see remarkable colors on mountain slopes and hot steams rising from the bottom of the valleys, and so much more. It’s also a hiker’s paradise as the famous Laugavegur hiking trail passes through the highland. A must visit in summer, Landmannalaugar also has a natural hot spring right by the foot of the hill, very popular among locals and tourists.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

We can’t end this list without mentioning the incredibly popular, award-winning, fantasy drama Game of Thrones. With narrative details set on a fictional land, there’s no other setting than Iceland to offer the legendary imagery for filming such an epic story. Across the nine series, the show covers many different locations in and around Iceland, many of which have become a tourist destination as a direct result of the success of the show.

Location:

Thingvellir National Park, the Golden Circle – it’s where the world’s oldest parliament was established in 930AD and it also holds a geological significance as it’s on the edge of the North American and Euroasian tectonic plates as they split apart. Besides sightseeing, you can also experience snorkeling or diving in the clearest water in the world at Silfra Fissure in the park.

Kirkjufell Mountain, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula – Iceland’s most photographed mountain, also an icon, Kirkjufell rises to 463 meters above sea level in the shape of a gigantic cone. The lagoon beneath is a popular location for kayaking, and you might even see seals surfacing from the water in summer.

Grjótagjá Cave with Hot Spring & Dimmuborgir lava rock formation, North Iceland – the romantic scene between Jon Snow and Ygritte in “Kissed by Fire” was taken in Grjotagja cave. Dimmuborgir formations is a location of a series of lava pillars, caves, and rugged rocks formed 2300 years ago. It’s on the east side of the Myvatn lake.

Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War

Captain America is another superhero franchise that has turned to Iceland for its creative inspiration. As a sequel to the last two Capital America movies, Marvel Comics embarked on the superhero’s next journey to an epic action-packed adventure, to which the lowland of South Iceland, backdropped by silver-capped mountains and impressive basalt column formations, seems to be the perfect fit for filming such a fitting story.

Location:

Vik, South Iceland – the seafront village is one of the most charming places in Iceland, with a red-roofed church on top of a hill overlooking the entire place. In summer, the lovely puffins like to come to nest in nearby cliffs, making Vik a very nice place to stay and get ready for bird watching.

Noah

Noah

The filming process for the biblical story Noah required a place where the original, raw nature of our planet still is still present, which led to them exploring Iceland. In this movie, the Icelandic wilderness represents the unflooded world before the fateful event took place. Like many other movies, Iceland’s stunning attractions and landscapes ensure to support the character’s quest with unbelievably convincing storytelling. If you want to know the locations the movie Noah shot in while in Iceland, here is the list:

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, South Iceland – Reynisfjara rises among so many volcanic black sand beaches for its basalt columns and astonishing sea stacks. The waves here are extremely dangerous and we suggest that you visit there with a local guide.

Reykjanes Peninsula – one distinctive feature in Reykjanes Peninsula you will notice immediately is its endless lava field covered in soft moss. There is so much to see and experience, the Blue Lagoon, beautiful lighthouses, the bridge between continents, Gunnuhver geothermal area, Brimketill lava rock formation, pyramid-shaped mountain Keilir, Hafnarberg cliffs, multiple museums. It’s an ideal summer day tour location.

Lake Myvatn, North Iceland – As a highlight in the Diamond Circle route of Iceland, Myvatn is a result of geothermal activities and volcanic eruptions. Nearby is the Myvatn Geothermal Nature Baths, billed as the Blue Lagoon in the north, which is  worth a try.

Oblivion

Oblivion

The film Oblivion features the Hollywood star Tom Cruise, who has, in many other movies, saved the world multiple times over. Oblivion, on the other hand, starts in a post-apocalyptic world, making use of Iceland’s volcanic craters, glistening glaciers, and many other unique combinations of features painted the story’s background explicitly, immediately drawing the audience into the fictional world with a compassionate eye. Tom Cruise’s quick thinking and Iceland’s awe-inspiring nature, Oblivion makes one of the best options for our lockdown movie list.

Location:

Hrossaborg Crater, Northeast Iceland– with a diameter of 500 meters, the crater Hrossaborg is located on an eruptive fissure and was formed around 10,000 years ago. It’s a stunning sight as you can see part of the crater now is destroyed by the glacial flood from Jokulsa River, this is unique to Iceland.

Jarlhettur, Central Highlands– There’s a reason that the movie Oblivion chose Jarlhettur to film, as Tom Cruise sat on top of Jarlhettur’s peak, the view was nothing but magnificent. The mountain ridge is 15 kilometers with 20 peaks in a chain. To visit here, we will need a 4X4 vehicle, and preferably in summer.

Other Movies Shot in Iceland

Other Movies Shot in Iceland

Two James Bond movies were shot partially in Iceland, “A View To Kill,” and “Die Another Day.” They both chose Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, the deepest lake in Iceland. The lagoon is famous for its floating giant icebergs, swimming seals, and chirping birds. Next to it is the Diamond Beach with many ice chunks stranded on the sand as many photographer’s favorite attractions. The movie “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” starring Angelina Jolie also shot scenes at Jokulsarlon.

Superhero series “Batman Begins” took its visual adventure to Vatnajokull glacier in South Iceland. The jagged appearance of the outlet glacier gave the movie something unique. Jules Verne’s 1864 science-fiction movie adaptation “Journey to the Center of the Earth” took place in the Snaefellsjokull National Park in West Iceland, a peninsula nicknamed “Miniature Iceland” as it has many iconic scenes representing the best of Iceland’s geography.


Made in Iceland – Best Icelandic Movies to Watch During Lockdown

While you enjoy the movies that are filmed in Iceland, would you also be interested in some Icelandic movies telling authentic Icelandic tales? 

Under the Tree

Undir trénu (Under the Tree)

Icelandic director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson made this typically Icelandic comedy filled with the depressive, dark, dry humor that will linger on the audience’s minds for a while. We recommend you watch this movie to understand the national characteristic of Icelanders, especially their humor.

Location: Reykjavik

Jóhannes

Jóhannes

This comedy is merrier than the one above. It’s a simple story where a series of events develop in a domino effect. The main character is portrayed by a famous Icelandic comedian who is also a painter. This comedy is perfect for a time like this when we need some light laughter.

Location: Reykjanes Peninsula, Reykjavik, West Iceland

Woman at War

Kona fer í stríð (Woman at War)

This powerful drama tells a touching story of a woman who strives for her faith and hope. Her energy, resilience, and determination are voiced out in a particular way that brings her struggle to life on the big screen. The iconic Icelandic landscape helps tell a powerful story. If you appreciate Icelandic dramas, we highly recommend this movie for your lockdown.

Location: Highlands

Let Me Fall

Lof mér að falla (Let Me Fall)

This intense, powerful drama was a national hit in Iceland and the audience has celebrated the heart-wrenching writing and stand-out performances. The movie plot is based on a real-life event, during a time when drug addiction became a major issue for some young people in Iceland. A serious examination in Icelandic society and a good option if you want to hear Iceland’s film maker’s voice.

Location: Reykjavik


Best Books to Read During Quarantine and Lockdown

Independent People

Independent People

The epic story of Independent People is set in the early 20th century, at a time when economically disadvantaged Icelandic farmers were struggling to survive through the harsh weather on inhospitable soil. The Nobel laureate writer Halldor Laxness delved into the true free spirit of Icelanders and captured their dreams and rebellions in the everlasting theme of independence.

Author: Halldor Kiljan Laxness (1902 – 1998)

Question of Travel – William Morris in Iceland

Question of Travel – William Morris in Iceland

The British textile designer, poet, and novelist William Morris traveled to Iceland in the 1870s, after he befriended an Icelandic theologian Eirikr Magnusson. In his account of the journey through Iceland, Morris’ personal, original views of Iceland left the most fascinating depiction of the island nation, making the book a good one to read to let our minds travel while we stay at home.

Author: William Morris (1834 – 1896), Lavinia Greenlaw

Snowblind: A Thriller (The Dark Iceland Series)

The landscape of Iceland and its remote location to the rest of the world set up a natural atmosphere for some mysterious crime stories. In Snowblind’s compelling storytelling, the characters evolve and develop after the events of two murders on a remote isolated village in North Iceland unfold.

Author: Ragnar Jónasson

The Little Book of the Icelanders

The Little Book of the Icelanders

This funny, quick read is an entertaining book about Icelanders and their quirks. A very traveler-friendly book for anyone who wants to learn something about Iceland and its people, the author provides insights into Icelandic society from a fun perspective.

Author: Alda Sigmundsdottir

Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland

Want to learn about expats living in Iceland? The English academic shared her own experience in this memoir of her life in Iceland teaching at the University of Iceland. The book includes observations of the national character and the big social change during the economic collapse in 2008.

Author: Sarah Moss