Norway is always ready for her close-up. Why shouldn’t she be? When a country is as beautiful as this one, it makes total sense that it would make the perfect filming location for any movie—and we’re not just talking about movies like The Snowman, where the location is of specific importance to the story. These well-known films below have used Norway as a canvas in at least one of their scenes—though you would be excused if you hadn’t realized until today.
The Danish Girl
Looks like The Danish Girl, the movie that got Alicia Vikander an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, is not 100% Danish after all. Even though the Danes spent €800,000 in order to get the production moved to Copenhagen and its surrounding areas, director Tom Hooper was just too in love with Norway, and snuck in a shot of his favorite landscape, the Haramsøy Island, in one of the last scenes with Alicia Vikander. Apparently, a Reddit user noticed (as Denmark doesn’t really have mountains the way Norway does) and the whole thing caused quite the stir, with Tom Hooper asking “the nation of Denmark for forgiveness.” Sorry, not sorry.
The Empire Strikes Back
Remember that iconic battle in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back that took place on the ice planet Hoth? Well, it was actually shot in the small Norwegian town of Finse and its nearby glacier Hardangerjøkulen—and you can visit it. The people behind Finse 1222, the hotel that operated as the movie production home-base back in 1979, decided to host an annual three-day Star Wars event every February. It’s basically one of the geekiest things you can do in Norway: you get to stay in the accommodations Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford stayed at, talk with the locals who worked on the film back in the day, visit filming locations, and go on a glacier tour—all while wearing Star Wars T-shirts and hoodies. So, see you on Hoth?
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Scotland may be the home of the Hogwarts Express in real life, but in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the sixth installment of the franchise where our favorite wizard friends get one step closer to understanding Horcruxes) Norway gets a bit of the magical action as well. The scene where the Hogwarts Express rushes through a snowy landscape was filmed around Bjorli, on the Rauma Railway line that runs between Oslo and the Norwegian fjord region. Now, here’s hoping that some of the future Fantastic Beasts films will return to Norway for some wizarding action—after all, it is enchantingly beautiful.
Die Another Day
The final James Bond movie to star Pierce Brosnan as 007 may have been considered by many a flop, but the action scenes are definitely impressive. Like that car chase on ice? That was shot partly in Svalbard and partly in Jostedalsbreen National Park, home of the largest glacier in mainland Europe.
Indie thriller Ex Machina probably creeped you out, but before it did, it probably made you fawn over that amazing house Oscar Isaac’s character was residing and being casually nefarious in. Well, good news: that house is actually a hotel in Norway. Juvet Landscape Hotel is the first landscape hotel in Europe and will make you feel like you’re part of Norwegian nature. If you choose to be nefarious after that, that’s on you.
Sometimes, size does matter; like Matt Damon’s latest movie, for instance. Downsizing is one of those weird hybrids between comedy, sci-fi and dystopia, where people get to shrink themselves to supposedly live better lives (as one does). Thankfully, some scenes remain larger than life, specifically the ones filmed in Trollfjord, in the Lofoten Islands. The spectacular Arctic fjord, with its narrow entrance and steep mountainsides, is definitely a sight to behold, even if Downsizing is, well, not.
The Golden Compass
Okay, this one should come as no surprise, at least to those who’ve read the Philip Pullman books. A large part of The Golden Compass is about polar bears, and thus takes place in their natural environment, which is none other than Svalbard. Sure, real polar bears are not usually armored, CGI-enhanced or voiced by Ian McShane, but they’re still majestic, beautiful and, yes, dangerous creatures. Further proof that Norway is the perfect setting for any movie genre—be it fantasy, thriller, adventure, or a little bit of everything.