Icelandic Star Wars fans were thrilled to see distinctly familiar landscapes in the opening scenes of Rogue One, on planet Lah’mu, home planet of the protagonist. The “alien landscapes” of Lah’mu were actually not so alien: they belong to Iceland, specifically the north around lake Mývatn and the south coast. What was most surprising to an Icelandic viewer is how rich a part the Icelandic landscape played – in the beginning of the film [SPOILERS AHEAD] young Jyn Erso escapes detection by the Empire by crawling inside of a very Icelandic-looking cave and hiding in a lava-rock-looking bunker. Later on, we see them fly their ship Rogue One in Iceland, to the planet Eadu, where a decisive battle is fought.
This is actually the second Star Wars film to be partly filmed in Iceland, joining The Force Awakens which set some of the snow planet battle scenes there. Rogue One is also joining the ranks of many notable films shot there in recent years including Captain America: Civil War, Interstellar, Prometheus, Star Trek into Darkness, Thor: the Dark World, Tom Cruise sci-fi flick Oblivion, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, The secret life of Walter Mitty, and two different James Bond movies, as well as miniseries Game of Thrones, Sense8 and many, many more. Upcoming films partly shot in Iceland include Furious 8 from the Fast&Furious franchise and the Justice League movie, both to screen next year.
Amazingly, the only unrealistic part of the Icelandic landscape is the grass.
In most cases, Iceland’s unique landscape is used to depict otherworldly or alien landscapes such as alien planets or fantasy lands, or a prehistoric or post-apocalyptic earth, and Rogue One is no exception – The lava rock formations and black sands definitely set the mood that everything is happening on no place on earth. Which is funny because it totally is, and you can totally go there!
To see some of the landscapes of Rogue One’s Lah’mu and Edau, we recommend a jeep tour of the southern highlands as well as of the north, including Mývatn and Krafla. Just don’t forget your lightsaber!