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Disney choose Iceland for Frozen 2

By October 30, 2019 No Comments
Screenshot of Frozen 2 featuring Anna and Elsa on a projection of a real Icelandic scenario

About six years ago, Disney Frozen took fans to the fictional world of Arendelle, resembling Norway. But Frozen 2 marks a locational shift. To create this wintry saga, Disney sought inspiration from another pristine Nordic country— Iceland.

Iceland is known for its dramatic landscape dotted by famous volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, lava fields, glaciers, and national parks. It may seem like a Nordic island nation with hidden people, but it has a rich Viking history. Not to forget, it is deeply entrenched in ancient folklores and traditional arts.

Frozen 2 Trailer

Earlier this year, Disney rolled out the first trailer of Frozen 2. This is the sequel to Frozen, 2013’s animated musical adventure. The movie’s trailer somehow gives a glimpse of Iceland’s enchanting natural features and superstitious chromosomes.

The initial trailer did not say much about the plot, other than that it marks the return of directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. It was a collection of scenes put together to show the characters of the film striving at various tasks.

In the first title, Elsa finally possessed all her magical abilities. In Disney Frozen 2, these powers prove so alluring for Elsa that she loses herself. Fortunately, that’s what both sisters prevent from happening.

The trailer of Disney Frozen 2 gave the impression that Queen Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) is fleeing from a desolate big island by running across the raging ocean. Besides Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf also make a comeback in the movie, plunging into serious crises of their own. Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven have major roles to play in determining the success or failure of the main characters’ pursuit.

All the scenes in the trailer do give a hint that Frozen 2 has some degree of newness in terms of its location compared to its prequel. It’s still a typical Nordic setting, but trailer showcases aspects of Iceland that makes anyone outside the screen go there to discover mysteries of nature.

What makes the setting so unique?

In the trailer, Elsa is seen combating the raging waves of the ocean from the shore. After a few moments, she is seen taking off her shoes and shawl and running into the ocean. Her magical powers allow her to race atop the ocean and rule over the water beneath.

However, this exact behavior of entering the ocean is what travelers are warned against when they visit Reynisfjara beach Iceland. This Frozen 2 Iceland beach sits beside Vík í Mýrdal village, which is located on the South Coast of the country. only an hours drive from LAVA Centre.

Reynisfjara, although a popular tourist destination, is one of the most dangerous beaches in Iceland. Signs on the Reynisfjara beach clearly warn that strong undercurrents and erratic sneaker waves engulf the entire region.

So, it won’t take long for the sea to sweep away anyone standing too close to it.

Nice panoramic picture of Reynisfjara Black beach in Iceland

The resemblance between Reynisfjara beach Iceland and its animated version show in many scenes of Disney Frozen 2’s trailer. The jet black sand, hexagonal basalt columns, and Reynisdrangar, (appearing like the baleful rock stacks) are apparent aspects that confirm that Reynisfjara black sand beach inspired the setting.

Nonetheless, the director of Frozen 2, Chris Buck, confirmed that the landscapes and the color palette were inspired by Djúpalónssandur. This is the black sand beach sitting on Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Western Iceland, with the beach made of these beautiful soft and rounded black pebbles, as seen in the movie. A few features of Iceland that come to Frozen 2 are:

  • Iceland’s National Mountain called Mt. Herðubreið
  • The vibrant Highlands of Iceland, the famous Mt. Kirkjufell
  • A Jökulhlaup (glacial outburst)
  • A water spirit called the Nokk
  • The Northern Lights

Frozen 2 based on Icelandic Folklore

Frozen 2’s connection with Icelandic folklore

Many clues show that Iceland’s Reynisfjara black sand beach inspired Disney Frozen 2’s setting, and it draws elements from Icelandic folklore.

After looking at the trailer of Frozen 2 Iceland, viewers get a glimpse of Nokk (a water spirit), fairies, giants, and mountain trolls. All of these seem strange, but they are pretty much the essence of Icelandic folklore.

About 60% of Iceland’s population still harbor the belief that the icy cold island is also home to magical creatures. Most of these are deeply entrenched in Iceland’s rich culture, history, and even politics.

Let’s check out some elements that show that Frozen 2 is based on Icelandic folklore:

  1. Nokk: The water-horse in Disney Frozen 2 is Nokk, which is a Nordic water-spirit. Icelandic travelers told the first tales of this creature. It would appear like a black horse with backward hooves, enticing passers to tame it, but would run off into the ocean the second they got on her back.
  2. Black Sand Beach: The Frozen universe is set primarily in Norway. But the trailer of Disney Frozen 2 starts with a scene that reminds of Reynisfjara, a black sand beach in South Iceland. The beach is known for its splendid façade but is also extremely dangerous. The rough sea conditions roil it up most of the time.
  3. Trolls: Icelandic trolls are the most prominent element in Frozen 2 that show its roots in the country. Trolls reside in the hills and mountains and do mischievous acts in places they roll. They are not inherently bad or evil; they are just a little troublesome owing to their naughtiness.
  4. Giants: According to Icelandic folklore, the big island was once under the reign of giants. However, they died off and became stones over time. The country is full of many unexplained landmarks that locales believe are stone-turned giants.
  5. Katla: The final proof that Frozen 2 takes place in Iceland is Katla. This is the most dangerous volcano in the country. It extended Iceland’s coast by five kilometers the last time it erupted. Its sister volcano Hekla erupts quite regularly.
    It’s interesting to note that Katla and Hekla are two extremely popular female names in Iceland. The two volcanoes are looked at as sisters, just like Frozen 2’s Elsa and Anna.

Famous movie locations in Iceland

Tourism in Iceland has make an important growth. One apparent reason for this growth is undoubtedly the spectacular landscapes of the island country. It’s one of the most blissful countries, providing soul-enriching solitude in its undulating roads, splendid mountains, and icy glaciers.

Filmmakers in the past have set the story of their flicks in the country owing to its alluring beauty. Here are a few Icelandic destinations that have made for the perfect movie setting:

Jökulsárlón glacier lake

Iceland became a popular movie location when James Bond was filmed at the famous Jökulsárlón glacier lake. The scenes of ice castles and swift Aston Martins are memorable for many. The lagoon here was a set for two popular flicks: “A view to a kill” (1985) and “Die another day” (2002). Also, Angelina Jolie shot scenes in the lagoon for “Lara Croft – Tomb Raider.”

Lake Mývatn

If you are a die-hard fan of “Game of Thrones,” then you have definitely seen this lake. Anyone driving through Ring Road will pass the lake unless they take a detour and drive on the northern route to Húsavík. A few parts of “Star Wars: Rogue One” was also filmed in the icy setting here.

Svínafellsjökull glacier

Svínafellsjökull glacier has featured in more than just one movie. The most well-known film where this place is seen is “Batman Begins.” The movie has a scene where combat breaks out on a frozen Tibetan lake.
This lake is actually an Icelandic gem. Not to forget, the Sci-Fi movie “Interstellar” was also filmed on this glacier.

Þingvellir National park

Another movie setting for “Game of Thrones” was Þingvellir national park, amongst Lake Mývatn and Dimmuborgir. The gripping scene where the Wildlings unleash an attack on a village was shot in this national park. Also, scenes of Arya and the hound and the combat between Brienne and the hound are filmed here.

Skógafoss waterfall

The gorgeous Skógafoss waterfall is an offbeat movie location, which is accessible by driving the southern flank of the Ring Road, 40 mintues drive from LAVA Centre. It hasn’t been featured in many films, but it managed to garner some recognition after it was the setting for the Marvel movie, “Thor: The dark world.” The best part- one can reach the Skógafoss waterfall driving the smallest of cars.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Frozen 2

The setting of Frozen 2

The film industry has always relied on location research trips to create different worlds on screen. The same is the case even when they are creating an animated movie. The makers of Frozen 2 hopped on a northern voyage to a couple of countries. However, the striking beauty of Iceland touched their hearts, making them settle down for it instantly.

The trailer of Disney’s Frozen 2 shows that the overall tone of the film has dramatically shifted. In the new trailer of the movie, Elsa is seen on a black sand beach, tackling the wrath of the sea and weather. Anna, on the other hand, is alone in the dark. Progress through the trailer, and it might seem to you that all of Elsa’s powers will get into a serious rally with the autumnal season.

The black sand beach in South Iceland is located close to the peaceful town of Vík, an hours drive from LAVA Centre. Here, you can see a strong resemblance between the black sand beach in the Frozen 2 trailer and Reynisfjara.

The foreground of Frozen 2’s trailer shows something like the famous basalt columns on Reynisfjara beach Iceland. The background behind Elsa features a colossal cliff, which is something similar to the one near Dyrhólaey on the rear tip of Reynisfjara black sand beach.

Where is Reynisfjara?

Although counted amongst the most beautiful beaches in the world, Reynisfjara in South Iceland is also an equally dangerous one. Tour guides can find it extremely challenging when visitors do not pay attention to warnings about the dangers of the beach. The Reynisfjara beach is situated beside Vík í Mýrdal village on the South Coast of Iceland. A perfect daytrip would be to start at LAVA Centre exhibition and learn about the forces of nature that created the Icelandic landscape, then drive past Seljalandsfoss and Skógarfoss, see the retreating crawling glacier Sólheimajökull and then finish at the Reynisfjara also known as the Black Sand Beach.

Signs on the Reynisfjara black sand beach clearly state that the area faces strong undercurrents and powerful, sudden sneaker waves. These natural phenomena, sometimes lasting 24 hours or more, can roil up the beach’s sands and sweep away anyone standing too close to the water.

The reason why Reynisfjara beach Iceland does not have white sand, but black, is because it is formed from heavily eroded volcanic rocks, which are black. The blackness of these rocks is because they have developed after volcanic lava turned them into black and hard substances after cooling down.

Frozen 2 is set for release on November 22. Fans of the movie can’t wait to explore the wintry and stunning landscapes of the Nordic country. To get a clear idea of the film’s location, you can check out the Reynisfjara beach map here:

Free Art Map of the popular Reynisfjara Black beach in Iceland

Frozen 2 Iceland Location

The Nordic influence of Frozen 2’s setting

The writers of Frozen, the first movie in the series, confirmed that it took place in Arendelle, Norway. However, many of the locations shown in the Disney Frozen 2 trailer do not appear native to the country. Let’s dig deeper into this here.

Beaches with black sand and pebbles and maple leaves are not something you find in Norway. The beach shown in the first scene of the Frozen 2 trailer is actually in Iceland. To be more specific, it’s reminiscent of Reynisfjara black sand beach in Iceland and Djúpilónssandur in Snæfellsnes. So, the filmmakers have moved a little west from Norway to create the landscapes of Frozen 2.

Interestingly, the maple leaves shown in the Disney Frozen 2 trailer belong to a specific type of maple tree growing in the easternmost part of Canada. So, Disney creates Frozen 2 by taking bits and pieces of natural beauty from all over the North Atlantic Region.

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