A Piffany About Hollywood Finding My Safe Houses In Norway
When you absolutely, positively have to get away from it all: Visit Norway!
People who love to watch the end credits of movies do so for their own reasons.
Some to find out who portrayed a certain character. Some to find out the title of a song they heard during a pivotal scene. Some to make sure there’s no sneaky mid-credits or post-credits scene tagged onto the end of the film as a postscript or a “stinger” of a tease to a potential or actual sequel.
Me? I enjoy sitting for all of those reasons, but also love to discover where they filmed the movie, especially when the locations were strikingly beautiful — I’d love to go where they once went. Or perhaps more accurately, not there exactly, but somewhere near there, because I don’t want to become just another trapped tourist, gawking and pointing as if I were the Leonardo DiCaprio meme come to life.
I became fascinated with small Italian hillside towns after watching George Clooney hide out in one during The American. Subsequently over the past decade, I suddenly began noticing more and more whenever Hollywood ventured to the Amalfi coast, Capri and even Rome. I finally made the trek to Italy in 2019, and found my own private cliffside enchantments in a less-visited beach paradise in Calabria, far away from any of the more popular destinations for tourists. I cannot wait to go back when it’s safe to once more. Seeing No Time to Die’s scenes in Matera certainly reminded me of just what gems exist and remain largely untampered with in Southern Italy.
When I finally went back to see my ancestral homes in Ireland firsthand, I tried to time the trip for a boat trip out to Skellig Michael, aka The Last Jedi island off the coast of Ireland where Luke Skywalker self-quarantined from the rest of the universe.
This was as close as I could get. Despite the seemingly sunny disposition, waters proved too choppy, cancelling my boat trip out to Skellig Michael. I meant to spend all of my travels that week in and around the Ring of Kerry, but upon further recommendations from fellow friends who’d travelled before me, I wound up ringing my way around the entire country, even into the North, just so I could see some of the Game of Thrones sites for myself, including the real-life Winterfell (even without all of the CGI enhancements, the house of Stark remains quite homey).
I flew Norwegian Airlines for that trip, and yet somehow, it never dawned on me either in 2017 or in the years since, to fly to Norway. So imagine my surprise, and then outright amusement, to find time and time again — and most especially this year — the place Hollywood most entices me to go is…checks notes…NORWAY?!? So many big-budget spectaculars have taken time to go on location to Scandinavia’s Westernmost and Northernmost nation, and though they filmed mostly from 2017-2019, their appearances on the big screens in 2020 and 2021 have struck an indelible chord within me. Suddenly Norway’s vast vistas and lush landscapes call out to me. This is the social distancing I seek.
Not that Norway wants Americans visiting these days.
So I’m left watching Norwegian splendor splayed before me on movie screens, beckoning me as if in a dream. Kinda like Dune, in reverse?
No spoilers, but as someone unfamiliar with the Dune books or previous film adaptations, I had no idea that the House Atreides lived so far from the desert in the first place.
Them thar waters, beaches and mountains? That’s North-West Norway.
Back in the summer, for all of the action past and present taking place in America or Mother Russia, my favorite aspects of Black Widow came early, watching Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff camping out in this trailer in the middle of nowhere, Norway, driving into town to pick up sundries and watching Bond flicks.
Watching her on the MF Goma ferry, amid the grandeur of the Hjørundfjorden, or even just the little Joker grocery in Sæbø in Ørsta, that seemed like living the good life, especially in this pandemic.
No Time To Die
Speaking of Bond flicks, this last entry in the Daniel Craig era found me jonesing to drive The Atlantic Road, whether or not baddies wanted to chase me along it.
Even with Rami Malek playing Phantom Of The 007 Opera, showing up at this not-so-safe house every 30 years or so.
But Bond has nothing on Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and the Mission: Impossible franchise these days…
Mission: Impossible — Fallout
Take me to church! Or even better than Hozier, take me to the Pulpit! Take me to Preikestolen! With a sheer cliff 604 meters above the fjords inland from Stavanger, it’s holy land, whether you’re fighting off Superman Henry Cavill or just enjoying the view. This clip below features the director and crew describing the lengths they had to go to just to get all of this majesty, plus an insane fight scene, on camera.
After all of that action, I need to sit down and catch my breath. Much like Odin and his son, Thor, and his adopted son, Loki, it might be nice to gaze upon the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway. Even if they needed to add the scenery in post.
And if the rough country proves too rough, it’s nice knowing I can stop time and go backward, a la Tenet, and venture into the big city of Oslo and take in some fine art at the most finest of Opera Houses.
At least this house is a sanctuary I can visit — the Juvet Landscape Hotel, in Vandall, far from any of the Norwegian cities. Robots not included.
Of course, when I can actually visit remains up in the air.