Looking for some cultural inspiration for your trip to Greenland? Kick back and enjoy some of our top picks from the Greenlandic movie scene.
What do you picture when you think of Greenland on screen? Ben Stiller standing in an empty airport? A drunken helicopter pilot sipping beer from a boot? Yep, you’re probably thinking of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the 2013 comedy adventure starring Ben Stiller. You’d be surprised how many tourists cite this film as part of their inspiration to travel to Greenland.
But – don’t be fooled! Although it’s a great movie and definitely worth a watch, the main character, Walter, only spends about 20 minutes in Greenland, in scenes which were actually not filmed in Greenland at all! Instead, Icelandic towns pass as Greenland’s capital, Nuuk. And, we know we’re biased, but this film really doesn’t do Greenland justice – Nuuk is actually much more charming than it appears in Walter Mitty!
But there are many films out there that put the real Greenland on screen, and which can be used as great inspiration for those thinking of travelling to Greenland, or even those who simply have a curiosity about the world’s largest island. Here are our top 5 picks of the best films about Greenland, produced by both Greenlandic and international talent.
1. Inuk (2010) | Adventure, Drama | Greenland/France
Inuk is a gritty and at times emotionally intense portrait of a young Greenlander who, after the loss of his father, becomes detached from the traditional ways of his people. Feeling lost within the urban landscape of the city of Nuuk, Inuk is sent to a foster home in the north of Greenland, where he is forced to reconnect with his painful past. A coming-of-age story that approaches many larger questions including the issue of cultural change, Inuk has won multiple awards for its direction, editing and cinematography.
Eksperimentet, which translates as The Experiment, is based on a real life social experiment which occurred in the 1950s. In 1951, a group of young Greenlandic children were relocated to Denmark to be educated and brought up according to Danish culture. Some of these children were later returned to Greenland, where they lived in an orphanage and were intended to act as role models for the Greenlandic community. The Experiment follows Gert, the headmistress of the orphanage, and explores her internal conflict as she becomes aware of the personal and psychological costs to the children she cares for.
Not all films about Greenland are doom and gloom! Journey to Greenland not only presents the lighter side of life in Greenland but also places the viewer in the tourists’ shoes – the perfect watch for prospective visitors to the country. This funny and enchanting film employs a documentary style and follows the ups and downs of two French actors who visit the settlement of Kullorsuaq and discover the warmth and charm of the local people.
The Village At The End Of The World is one of two documentaries in our watchlist. It follows the fortune of Lars, who is the only teenager in the tiny settlement of Niaqornat in northern Greenland. The settlement is one of the few places left in Greenland where trade relies solely on the traditional industries of fishing and hunting. With a declining population, and residents increasingly leaving to seek work in bigger towns, there are worries that the settlement will eventually die out altogether, and the traditional ways of living with it. Despite its rather heavy subject matter, this award-winning documentary is surprisingly witty and ultimately feel-good – and definitely worth a watch.
Our second documentary travels back in time to 1973 and the release of Greenlandic band Sumé’s debut album. This rock album was the first to be recorded in the Greenlandic language, and its political themes resonated deeply with the Greenlandic population at the time. The album is dubbed ‘the sound of a revolution’ since it is credited with setting into motion a revival of Greenlandic culture and identity, and paving the way for the home rule which was instated a few years later in 1979. The release of the movie rekindled this buzz among Greenlanders and was a huge event for Greenlandic society. Through interviews with the band members and other relevant participants, this award-winning film intertwines music, politics and history in an entertaining and moving fashion.
Liz is a member of the Content and International Relations team at Visit Greenland. She has recently completed a Master’s degree in Global Tourism Development, and hopes to continue conducting academic research on cultural tourism in the Arctic.
Greenland is by no means swarming with tourists, wherever you go in the country, but there are particular places where tourists congregate, and there’s a ‘beaten track’ to get off, if that’s your thing.
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