Article Overview: Movies about Alaska
Most people have some familiarity with Alaska whether they’ve visited or not, thanks to the state’s popularity with film crews. Many great movies have been shot in Alaska, and even more movies have been made about Alaska. The biggest state in America has proven to be an exciting location for many major blockbusters. Here, we will list some of the best movies about Alaska, including a list of documentaries you won’t want to miss. So grab some popcorn and get ready to start binging these great movies about Alaska.
Why Trust Us Regarding Movies about Alaska
AlaskaExplored is THE DESTINATION for all things Alaska. Whether you’re planning a trip to experience the same majesty you’ve seen in a movie about Alaska or if you’re just curious about the last frontier, we’ve got you covered. Here at AlaskaExplored.com you’ll find expert tips, detailed guides, stunning photographs, and so much more. Together AlaskaExplored has more than twenty years of experience traveling, working, and exploring the beautifully rugged, 49th state. Working in television has taken us all around the world, and no place more than Alaska. During our time here, we’ve documented countless stories from every corner and crevasse of the state. We’ve helped showcase the grandeur of this wild place for National Geographic, Discovery, Disney, Animal Planet, and more. Now, we want to share our knowledge and real-life experiences with you!
Table of Contents: Movies about Alaska
Table of contents
- Why Trust Us Regarding Movies about Alaska
- Movies About Alaska
- Into The Wild (2007)
- White Fang (1991)
- Call of the Wild (2020)
- Firefox (1982)
- Limbo (1999)
- Horror/Thriller Movies About Alaska
- Animated Movies About Alaska
- Documentary Movies about Alaska
- More Movies About Alaska
- Why are there so many Movies and Reality Shows About Alaska?
- Movies about Alaska (Post Summary)
Movies About Alaska
With so many movies about Alaska, we decided to narrow the list down to ten films worth watching. Over the last decade, there have been many sequels and re-makes of Alaskan films, such as Spoiler, which has been remade at least four times, and multiple sequels to both Balto and Brother Bear. Here is a list of our top ten must-see movies about Alaska. While these movies range in genre, they all feature Alaska as one of its main characters.
Into The Wild (2007)
Probably the most famous movie about Alaska, Into the Wild, directed by Sean Penn, tells the remarkable true story of Christopher McCandless. A young man who abandons societal conventions and embarks on a transformative journey into the wilderness. Embodying the spirit of adventure and a quest for self-discovery, Emile Hirsch portrays McCandless, who renounces his material possessions, adopts the alias Alexander Supertramp, and sets out on a cross-country odyssey.
White Fang (1991)
Adapted from Jack London’s classic novel, this movie about Alaska tells the gripping tale of a young gold prospector, Jack Conroy (Ethan Hawke), and his bond with a wild wolf-dog in the rugged Yukon Territory. Directed by Randal Kleiser, the film explores themes of friendship, survival, and the clash between nature and civilization. As Conroy befriends the majestic White Fang, their journey through the untamed wilderness becomes a powerful narrative of loyalty and understanding.
Call of the Wild (2020)
Set against the stunning landscapes of the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush, the film follows Buck, a domestic dog stolen and sold into the brutal life of an Alaskan sled dog. This movie about Alaska stars Harrison Ford as John Thornton, who forms a bond with Buck as they embark on an epic journey of survival and self-discovery.
A high-stakes Cold War thriller. Eastwood stars as Mitchell Gant, a former pilot tasked with a perilous mission – stealing an advanced Soviet fighter jet equipped with a thought-controlled weapons system. Set against the icy backdrop of the Arctic, the Alaska movie combines intense aerial sequences with espionage intrigue. As Gant infiltrates enemy territory, battling both the Russian military and his own inner demons, “Firefox” becomes a gripping tale of technology, espionage, and the relentless pursuit of an edge in the ongoing Cold War tensions.
A suspenseful tale on an Alaskan fishing island. As a diverse group navigates their individual struggles, their lives converge when a mysterious stranger (David Strathairn) washes ashore with a traumatic past. Sayles weaves a tapestry of human connections, exploring love, loss, and redemption against the movies backdrop of Alaska’s rugged beauty. Faced with moral dilemmas and the harsh Alaskan elements, the characters find themselves in a metaphorical limbo, where the pursuit of hope and understanding becomes as challenging as the untamed wilderness that surrounds them.
Horror/Thriller Movies About Alaska
Alaska’s vast and isolated wilderness, marked by extreme weather conditions, sparse population, and unique cultural elements, serves as an ideal backdrop for horror and thriller movies. The harsh landscapes, coupled with the danger of the untamed environment and the potential encounters with wildlife, create an atmosphere of suspense and fear. Here are our favorite horror movies about Alaska.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, this thriller takes place in Nightmute, Alaska. Al Pacino delivers a gripping performance as Detective Will Dormer, a seasoned investigator sent to Alaska to solve the murder of a teenage girl. As the perpetual daylight messes with Dormer’s sense of time and reality, the film delves into the psychological toll of the case on the detective. Partnered with Hap Eckhart (played by Martin Donovan), Dormer finds himself entangled in a web of deception and moral ambiguity. This movie was a big reason I wanted to go to Alaska.
30 Days of Night (2007)
30 Days of Night is a chilling tale of survival as an Alaskan town plunges into darkness for a month, creating the perfect setting for a bloodthirsty horde of vampires. Directed by David Slade, the film unfolds as the sun sets for an extended period, allowing the undead to unleash a reign of terror on the isolated community of Barrow. As the townsfolk confront a seemingly unstoppable enemy, Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) leads a desperate struggle for survival, battling the relentless vampires and the psychological toll of the prolonged night. Personally, this is one of my favorite movies about Alaska.
The Edge (1997)
This movie about Alaska is a gripping survival drama in the Alaskan wilderness. Starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, the film follows two men stranded after a plane crash, forced to confront not only the harsh elements but also each other. As they battle the unforgiving environment and a lurking Kodiak bear, primal instincts and secrets surface, testing their resolve and friendship.
The Last Winter (2006)
Environmental horror in the Arctic tundra is the them of this movie about Alaska. As a team of oil workers, led by Ed Pollack (Ron Perlman), explores for resources, they unleash ancient, malevolent forces. The desolate landscape becomes a haunting backdrop for paranoia and supernatural terror, blurring the lines between reality and hallucination. Fessenden’s film is a chilling exploration of man’s impact on nature, where the eerie silence of the Arctic wilderness becomes a canvas for psychological horror.
Animated Movies About Alaska
An animated adventure directed by Simon Wells, recounts the inspiring true story of a Siberian Husky-Wolf mix in this movie about Alaska. Voiced by Kevin Bacon, Balto takes center stage when a deadly diphtheria outbreak jeopardizes the community. With his wolf instincts and courage, Balto leads a sled dog team across treacherous terrains to deliver essential medicine. This heartwarming Alaska movie of heroism and determination celebrates the indomitable spirit of a half-wolf underdog, proving that courage knows no bounds, even in the harsh Alaskan wilderness.
Documentary Movies about Alaska
While feature films are the go-to for most people’s Netflix evenings, documentaries are the movies to watch if you want a real feel for the Alaskan adventure. Alaska has an endless number of true stories to tell, most of which have all the drama and horror of a Hollywood blockbuster. If you’re not used to watching docs, I can understand the apprehension, but I highly recommend checking these few titles out if you love all things Alaska as we do.
Grizzly Man (2005)
Werner Herzog’ documentary chronicles Timothy Treadwell’s passionate but ill-fated relationship with Alaskan grizzly bears. Armed with a camera and misguided confidence, Treadwell spent thirteen summers living among the bears, capturing their lives until a fatal encounter ended his and his girlfriend’s lives. Herzog weaves Treadwell’s footage with interviews and narration, creating a haunting Alaska movie about the fine line between man and nature.
This Disney documentary follows the journey of a mother brown bear and her two cubs, Amber and Scout. Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, the Alaska movie captures the challenges and triumphs of bear family life in an enchanting yet perilous environment. Through breathtaking cinematography and a compelling narrative, “Bears” offers an intimate portrayal of survival, showcasing the indomitable spirit of these majestic creatures.
Children of the Arctic (2014)
Documentary about the realities of life in the Arctic Circle through the eyes of indigenous youth. The Alaska documentary movie intimately captures the challenges and dreams of these children as they navigate a rapidly changing environment. Against a backdrop of breathtaking landscapes, the film sheds light on cultural preservation, climate change, and the resilience of a generation facing an uncertain future.
More Movies About Alaska
In researching this article, I was able to find over ninety films about or made in Alaska; I’m not going to list them all here, but here are a few more that are worth checking out.
- The Spoilers (1914)
- The Frozen North (1922)
- The Call of the Wild (1923)
- The Silver Horde (1930)
- Klondike (1932)
- Page Miss Glory (1935)
- Klondike Annie (1936)
- Call of the Yukon (1938)
- Lost in Alaska (1952)
- Arctic Flight (1952)
- Sourdough (1982)
- Runaway Train (1985)
- On Deadly Ground (1994)
- To Brave Alaska (1996)
- Mystery Alaska (1999)
- Balto II: Wolf Quest (2002)
- Snow Dogs (2002)
- Brother Bear (2003)
- Balto III: Wings of Change (2004)
- The Big White (2005)
- Brother Bear 2 (2006)
- The Guardian (2006)
- The Simpsons Movie (2007)
- Snow Buddies (2008)
- The Proposal (2008)
- The Fourth Kind (2009)
- Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
- On the Ice (2011)
- The Big Year (2011)
- The Grey (2012)
- Big Miracle (2012)
- The Frozen Ground (2012)
- The Bourne Legacy (2012)
- The Call of the Wild (2020)
Filming Locations for Movies That Aren’t About Alaska
Here are some movies and their filming locations that used Alaska to depict other parts of the world that are cold, inhospitable, and otherworldly. Movie magic baby!
- Valdez – “The Hunt for Red October” (1990): The snowy woodlands depicted as ‘Poljarny Inlet, near Murmansk in the Soviet Union’ in the opening sequence were, in fact, filmed in the port of Valdez.
- Juneau – “The Thing” (1982): While John Carpenters classic creature feature was set in Antartica, some of the movie was actually filmed on refrigerated sets in Juneau, Alaska.
- Knik Glacier – Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (2013): The icy expanses of the penal asteroid ‘Rura Penthe,’ where Kirk and McCoy venture after eluding the shape-shifting alien, are, in reality, the Knik Glacier, situated approximately 50 miles east of Anchorage in Chugach State Park, Alaska.
Why are there so many Movies and Reality Shows About Alaska?
While Alaska offers filmmakers a compelling location to base their stories, another reason so many movies and shows have been filmed in the state may be the lucrative tax incentives. Up until 2015, Alaska offered filmmakers a combination of tax credits and rebates to encourage the industry’s growth within the state. Production companies were able to benefit from a tax credit of up to 30% on qualified expenses incurred during filming in Alaska. This included costs related to hiring Alaskan residents, utilizing local services, and capital expenditures.
That said, the tax credit incentive has been gone for nearly a decade, and dozens of shows are still being produced within the state. HBO’s most recent installment in the True Detective series is based in Alaska and stars Jodie Foster.
My Experience Filming in Alaska
Each of us have spent over a decade lugging tripods across the ice in the frigid Alaskan winters to make TV shows for a slew of different television networks. While we haven’t had the opportunity to work on any movies about Alaska, we still like to watch them.
My time filming in Alaska has allowed me to witness some of the most majestic landscapes, both the beauty and horror of nature, and some of the most intriguing characters. The same extreme elements also make Alaska a fascinating backdrop for filmmakers to tell their stories. While some of the movies we will discuss in the article merely use Alaska as a scenic backdrop, others make the people and places of Alaska a key element in their stories. I hope you enjoy watching their movies as much as I have.
Movies about Alaska (Post Summary)
Across multiple genres and themes, Alaska continues to prove itself to be a fascinating place for screenwriters and documentarians to make their stories. From the thrilling performances of Al Pacino and Robin Williams in Insomnia to the action-packed flight sequences in Firefox with Clint Eastwood, Alaska, and Alaska-themed movies have featured some of the best Actors of our time. I hope you enjoyed this list; if you are stuck at home on a rainy day, why not a movie about Alaska?
- Insomnia (2002)
- Into the Wild (2007)
- 30 Days of Night (2007)
- The Edge (1997)
- White Fang (1991)
- Firefox (1982)
- Call of The Wild (2020)
- Limbo (1999)
- Balto (1995)
- The Last Winter (2006)
Movies about Alaska FAQ’s
The Spoiler (1914). The film is directed by Colin Campbell and is based on the 1904 book of the same name. The movie takes place in Nome, Alaska, and is about the 1898 gold rush.