Remote, isolated and extremely intriguing and mysterious, Iceland is a land that attracts many people who want to explore raw nature and at the same time witness how such a small country, with no neighbours and borders, can be so successful and powerful. Maybe this is one of the reasons.
But Iceland is well known for its artistic side, as well. Its musicians are famous worldwide and their cinematography has flourished in the last three decades. At times bizarre, often weird and specific, their movies have still found an audience who enjoys them and can’t wait for the new ones to come out. This is the list of the 15 best Icelandic movies of all time.
Set in an isolated Icelandic valley, this emotional drama tells the story of two brothers who share the same land, but haven’t spoken in about forty years. Gummi and Kiddi are farmers, known for being one of the best breeds of sheep in the country and when a dangerous and serious disease infects Kiddi’s sheep, the two brothers will have to forget their issues and try and save their rams and sheep from extinction.
They tried to fight it in their own way, Kiddi with his weapons and Gummi with his smarts, but very soon figured out that this is something much larger than they ever could have imagined. What started as a dramedy, suddenly turned out to be a sad story with a plot with didn’t really imagine.
Life in a Fishbowl Vonarstraeti (2014)
This difficult drama brings three stories about three people that somehow become connected. Eik is a single mother and a pre-school teacher who is barely making ends meet and is forced to turn to prostitution to be able to raise her daughter since her regular job isn’t enough.
Sölvi is an ex-athlete who is trying to do something of his life and Mori is an actor with an addiction problem. Slowly the lives of these three persons intertwine in the most surprising manner and once again we are faced with the fact that everyone has something to hide.
Children of Nature (1991)
One of the most famous and important Icelandic movies is by far this romantic drama about two seniors who decide to spend their mature days away from a home for senior citizens they were brought to. Thorgeir and Stella meet again after decades and, unhappy with their situation far away from their homes, they decide to steal a jeep and travel to Stella’s old home in the countryside of Northwestern Iceland.
This is a road movie that shows how important it is to live your life to the fullest and proves that it is never too late to make your dreams come true and that sometimes a long life doesn’t mean much if you can’t live it as you want.,
Devil’s Island (1996)
This is a memorable comedy-drama about Reykjavik in the years following World War II when the American and British army left their bunkers behind. They became shelters and homes to hundreds of poor citizens who were coming to the country’s capital during those years.
It was a difficult time and this movie portrays it in a fresh, witty, but at the same time serious way, trying to bring the audience closer to these vibrant residents and their everyday struggles and often humorous situations they find themselves in.
This coming-of-age story about two best friends who live in a remote fishing village in Iceland deals with one of the most beloved topics of the last decade. Thor and Christian are teenagers who spent their whole life together but now have found themselves in a new situation.
It will be a summer full of revelations, secrets and adventures they will have to deal with when the harsh Icelandic life prevails in autumn. One boy will develop feelings for his best friend and the other will try and seduce a girl he has started to like.
Let Me Fall (2018)
A heartbreaking biographical drama about the horrors of addiction and all the consequences it leaves on its victims of any kind. This movie follows the story of Stella and Magnea whose teenage years were triggers for the change in their behaviour and the beginning of experimenting with various kinds of drugs.
The movie features numerous interviews with families of addicts and shows us the harrowing destiny of everyone around them who becomes involved in this neverending fight with one of life’s most deceitful enemies.
Cold Fever (1995)
This interesting mystery drama tells the story of Hirata, whose parents were killed seven years ago in an accident in Iceland. There is a Japanese tradition that says that people’s souls will never be at ease if they aren’t properly buried so Hirata embarks on a journey to a river where his parents died.
Cancelling his plans to Hawaii, Hirata starts his road trip on Iceland where he will encounter many unusual people, witness wonderful landscapes and natural phenomena and get in touch with his spiritual side, at the same time honouring his country’s tradition.
101 Reykjavik (2000)
A romantic comedy about a grown-up, thirty-year-old Hlynur who is enjoying his reckless days, still living with his mother and ignoring his adulthood responsibilities. He is spending his days watching porn and drinking, relying on his unemployment checks.
There is a girl in the picture, but Hlynur doesn’t want any kind of commitment and when his mother’s Flamenco teacher moves in with them, he finds himself in a situation he didn’t expect. It turns out Lola is a lesbian but hasn’t got anything against spending nights with young men who Hlynur realises that he and his mother share more than a house.
Noi albinoi (2003)
One of Iceland’s internationally most famous movies is this comedy-drama about a 17-years-old Noi who lives on a remote fjord in Northern Iceland. During winter, he is cut off from the rest of civilization since his fjord is surrounded by tall mountains covered in snow.
Noi dreams of leaving his untouched natural paradise, but also a sort of prison with Iris, a city girl he likes. He makes several unsuccessful attempts to do it and in the end, there is only a natural catastrophe that might help him and open a window that will offer him a completely new world.
Jar City (2006)
It is not difficult to imagine Iceland as a setting for a murder mystery and this crime drama is a perfect example of how this beautiful country can make an ideal place for a movie full of secrets and things to discover and solve.
A detective and his squad, a small town full of corruption and a murder that will open up Pandora’s box with all the mysteries hidden inside, some of which should never have been discovered. It is a premise of this intriguing movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat until its very end.
This is a drama about a 67-year-old Hannes who is about to be retired after 37 years of working as a school caretaker and before that a fisherman in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. He had to move from this archipelago many years ago due to a volcanic eruption and continue to live on the mainland.
Hannes is now a man estranged from his family, especially his children and is not dealing with ease with his retirement. The only person who understands him is his wife Anna, but after her tragic accident, Hannes will start questioning his decisions and behaviour towards his beloved ones and be forced to deal with his emotions that have been buried for a long time.
Of Horses and Men (2013)
This is a lighthearted romantic comedy-drama about a group of people, all with their problems and issues and one thing in common, horses. Kolbeinn and Solveig and their horses Grana and Brunn. Jarpur and Vernhardur and Grimur and Egill. Some are horses and some are men and all of them are pretty complicated.
Everything is connected and everyone all these interesting and quirky stories might have either a happy or a complex ending where love and death will become intertwined with consequences no one has expected.
The Sea (2002)
This is an interesting drama about a man who decides to write about his life but first has to deal with all the suppressed emotions and confessions coming from the members of his family. Thordur is a wealthy patriarch who assembles his family to talk about their future and the future of their family’s fishery.
Through their conversations, many hidden things will come to the surface, such as sibling rivalries, sexual abuse and incestuous connections. It will be a night of rage and long repressed resentments where the past and the future will become connected through the present’s truths.
Woman at War (2018)
This is a story about Halla, a fifty-year-old woman with an ordinary life, behind whose routine there is a passionate environmental activist. She is trying to fight the local aluminium industry and her actions are becoming braver and more complicated, from petty vandalism to direct sabotage. When her attempts seem to end in the boldest operation yet, one single letter will stop all her efforts and force her to completely change her plans.
She receives a letter with the information that her long wanted wish of adopting a child will come true and that there is a little girl in Ukraine waiting for her. Halla is torn between her wish to proceed with the sabotage and the immediate trip to the unknown and she decides to make the final blow to the aluminium industry before taking off.
Virgin Mountain (2015)
A heartwarming drama about Fusi, a 43 year old man who still lives with his mother and leads a life of complete boredom and routine. His monotonous days are disrupted when a happy-go-lucky Sjofn and a young neighbour Hera appear out of nowhere.
Virgin Mountain is a story about this childlike man who doesn’t know how to interact with people, who is too innocent and honest to be able to make it on his own in this cruel world. He is afraid to be hurt and therefore constantly rejects others’ attempts to get closer to him, but in the end, he will have to start opening up more, with the risk of getting hurt.