Alaska’s gorgeous scenery and adventurous atmosphere have led to 75 films being set here since 1914. While most of these movies are filmed elsewhere and several of them are animated, we love winding down a work week with our favorite Alaskan tales. Here are seven must-see movies set in Alaska.
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We’ll begin our list with Grizzly Man, a movie set and filmed in Alaska. Grizzly Man is a riveting documentary about naturalist and wildlife conversation advocate Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell became famous for living alongside grizzly bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park for 13 summers until a bear killed him and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, in 2003. The documentary, directed by Werner Herzog, tells Treadwell’s controversial life and death by using scenes from 100 hours of self-shot footage and interviews with family and friends. The end result is a remarkable story about Alaska, bears, and one of the most controversial wildlife advocates in a generation.
Into the Wild
Into the Wild is another movie filmed and set in Alaska. This biographical film is based on the best-selling book, “Into the Wild,” by Jon Krakauer. The movie and book follow the true story of Christopher McCandless. In 1992, McCandless abandoned his former life, excommunicated himself from family and friends, and then wandered alone into the outskirts of Denali National Park with practically no long-term supplies. His goal was to completely reject a material lifestyle. The movie offers a surreal portrayal of Alaska’s natural beauty and how the allure of a simple lifestyle in the wilderness can be irresistible.
The Grey pits Liam Neeson against the unforgiving Alaskan winter and the creatures who lurk within the tundra. The survival thriller, directed by Joe Carnahan, follows an oil rig crew’s harrowing journey after their plane crashes and they become stranded in the brutal Alaskan wilderness. Neeson, the group’s leader, tries to navigate his crew to safety but they quickly are besieged by a pack of devilishly clever wolves. With territorial wolves on the hunt, will anyone survive?
Enough doom and gloom at the moment. Let’s spice up the list with a ridiculous romantic comedy set in Alaska, The Proposal. The film stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Bullock plays a high-strung and domineering executive whose expired visa is getting her deported. Reynolds plays her employee, who gets bullied into marrying her so she can get a green card. Unfortunately for them both, the authorities aren’t convinced their marriage is legitimate, so the comedic duo must visit Reynolds’ family in Sitka, Alaska, to prove their love. The movie’s plot is absurd, but Bullock and Reynolds’ on-screen chemistry make for a hilarious duo and excellent date night.
Much like Canada, Alaska is mostly known for one sport: Hockey. So let’s introduce Mystery, Alaska, the funniest hockey movie since Slap Shot. The film, directed by Jay Roach, has a star-studded cast featuring Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, and Burt Reynolds. The comedy plays off the drama that surfaces among locals in the fictional Alaskan town, Mystery. The bicker-happy citizens of Mystery are only unified by one thing: an unbridled obsession with hockey. After the town is featured in “Sports Illustrated,” Mystery’s amateur hockey team is chosen to play a televised exhibition match against the New York Rangers. Quickly, the Mysterians put aside their differences and unite to shoot for fame.
Balto is a heartwarming film that blends live action cinematography and animation to deliver a tale loosely based on the true story of Balto, a Siberian husky who saved children from a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska, in 1925. Balto and his crew of fearless sled dogs face the storm of the century during their 600-mile trek from Nenana to Nome. The movie offers a jolt of heroism, adventure, and love, and is worth the watch.
Christopher Nolan has three near masterpiece films: The Prestige, Memento, and Insomnia. You might know the famed director because of his recent blockbusters: Dunkirk, The Dark Knight trilogy, Interstellar, and Inception, but to truly appreciate Nolan’s directorial and scriptwriting genius, you must watch Insomnia. The psychological thriller is set in Nightmute, a tiny fictional Alaska fishing town where two Los Angeles homicide detectives try to solve a gruesome murder investigation while suffering insomnia from Alaska’s famous “midnight sun”. The film is full of twists and turns, and the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat until well after the credits roll. Plus, this thrilling film has a cast that is second to none, starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank. What’s not to love?
That’s our list. If you haven’t watched these movies before, we highly recommend them. And if you have watched them, why not come out to Alaska and see why its beauty inspired so many dramatic and heroic films? Come work for us, and you can explore Denali National Park, watch sled dogs in Fairbanks, and experience Alaska’s “midnight sun” for yourself. Explore our current job openings and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime.