The Top 5 Movies Set in Alaska

06/01/2011
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The “Last Frontier” of Alaska has captivated humanity’s imagination for centuries. From the Spanish attempts to settle the land in the 18th century, to the wild gold rush era of the late 19th century, people have seemingly always tried to capitalize on Alaska’s riches.

But if there’s anything in the world that knows how to capitalize on something, it’s Hollywood. Indeed, in recent decades Hollywood has used Alaska’s rugged wilderness and secluded Denali National Park to provide a stunning backdrop to several hit movies.

Not all movies are created equal, however. Out of a bounty of Alaska-based movies to choose from, we’ve selected the five best movies to ever be set in the Last Frontier (not to be confused with “the Final Frontier,” which is the setting for all the Star Trek movies). All these films are required viewing for those planning to visit America’s northernmost state.

Best Alaska Movies

5. The Edge (1996)

Sometimes action movies don’t have to be all guns and explosions. In this classic survival film starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as a rich billionaire and Alec Baldwin as a younger photographer, two men find themselves stranded in the remote Alaska wilderness after their plane crashes into a lake. As if the presence of man-eating bears isn’t enough, the two men suspect each other of sleeping with the same woman. There could be worse places for a photographer to be stranded, though. Alaska’s Denali National Park provides a world class setting for capturing the beauty of the immense landscape and unique wildlife.

Embark on your own Alaska wilderness adventure with a stay at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, right at the gateway of Denali National Park.

4. Mystery, Alaska (1999)

This Alaska movie tells the fictional tale of a tiny hockey-loving town named Mystery whose local team gets the chance of a lifetime: to host the New York Rangers for a game on their home ice. This movie captures small-town life in Alaska, as the local community shines under the unexpected national spotlight and gives the Rangers the game of their life. Plus, the movie features a stellar cameo by none other than Little Richard. Alaska, hockey and iconic rock n’ rollers: What more could you ask for?

For the small-town Alaska experience, try a tour based in Talkeetna, the setting for the  1990s TV series “Northern Exposure.”

3. Runaway Train (1985)

Filmed in Whittier, Alaska, this classic mid-80s action movie starring Jon Voight isn’t just about a prison breakout; it’s also about two escaped prisoners who find themselves on a train that cannot be stopped! As the runaway train hurtles through Alaska’s dramatic landscape, the prisoners eventually end up in an epic battle with their ruthless prison warden. Hollywood sure knows how to pull out all the stops, huh?

A stay at the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge is the closest (and most accommodating way) to experience the same Alaska wilderness that sets the backdrop for this intense action film.

2. Into the Wild (2007)

This biographical film follows the true-life story of Christopher McCandless, an idealistic college graduate who makes a solo trek into a remote area of Denali National Park in the hopes of completely rejecting a material lifestyle. The movie provides an intriguing portrayal of the ways in which the aura of Alaska’s natural beauty can instill an irresistible desire to experience its wilderness. While certainly a tragic ending, McCandless’ story will stick with you for years to come. At Denali National Park the slopes and valleys that surround North America’s highest peak and are filled with wildlife such as bears, foxes and caribou. Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is one of the finest riverside accommodations and is located only one mile from the entrance to Denali National Park.

At Denali National Park the slopes and valleys that surround North America’s highest peak and are filled with wildlife such as bears, foxes and caribou. Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is one of the finest riverside accommodations and is located only one mile from the entrance to Denali National Park.

1. Insomnia (2002)

Before Christopher Nolan became a household name for hit movies like The Dark Knight and Inception, he created this awesome psychological thriller set in the tiny Alaska fishing town of Nightmute. A veteran police detective played by Al Pacino is called in to assist with a gruesome murder investigation. The town receives Alaska’s famous 24-hour sunlight during the summer, which exacerbates the detective’s sleeping problems and descends him into a state where he can’t keep his head straight. Both characters and audience are kept guessing through this thrill ride of a film, made memorable by the star-studded cast of Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hillary Swank.

If anything, this list proves that dramatic scenery makes for dramatic stories. Who knows, maybe on your visit up here, you’ll get an idea for the next great Hollywood blockbuster…

Now that you’ve loaded your film queue up with the best Alaska-based movies, why not plan to see the real thing? Head to Alaska and view its cinematic vistas in person with an Alaska train tour, a day-trip adventure starting from one of our Alaska hotels or a full Alaska vacation package.

 

See current specials at Princess Lodges.

Posted in: Alaska Activities