Explore the Last Frontier from Your Couch with These 16 Films Set in Alaska

Maybe you’re dreaming of moving to Alaska. Maybe you want to sneak in a visit to the Last Frontier from the comfort of your living room. Or maybe you just want to learn more about life in the 49th state.

Whatever your reason, these 16 films set in Alaska will transport you to the Land of the Midnight Sun. You’ll find a little something for everyone in this list: action and adventure, thrillers, tales of dark forces at work, celebrations of Alaskan wildlife, depictions of Alaska Native communities—and even sightings of big stars like Steven Seagal, Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, and Al Pacino. (Just to name a few!)

To help you pick the right film, we’ve included some key details for each movie—and we’ll even show you where to stream them. Let’s get started!

Into the Wild

83% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
2007 – Year Released
Netflix – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, and William Hurt
  • Filmed In: Cantwell, AK
  • Setting: The Stampede Trail near Healy, AK

Based on the book by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild is the true story of Christopher McCandless, who rejected his privileged upbringing and gave away all of his possessions to travel to the Alaskan wilderness. The movie paints a vivid picture of McCandless’s journey, including the incredible sights he takes in, the quirky people he meets, and the hard lessons he learns along the way.

Fun Fact: The bus made famous as the temporary home of McCandless has been removed from the Stampede Trail. It’s currently in the possession of the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks, where it’s undergoing restoration. Bus 142, as it’s known, even has its own livestream so you can monitor its progress.

Insomnia

92% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
2002 – Year Released
HBO Max – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Al Pacino, Hilary Swank, and Robin Williams
  • Filmed In: Valdez and Hyder, AK
  • Setting: Nightmute, a fictional small fishing town in Alaska

A remake of a Norwegian thriller, Insomnia was Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to his breakout movie, Memento. Leveraging the disorienting effect of Alaska’s midnight sun, Insomnia is a twisty thriller in which you never quite know who to trust—and who’s truly on the side of the angels.

Hold the Dark

71% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
2018 – Year Released
Netflix – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) and Macon Blair (Blue Ruin)
  • Filmed In: Canada; no scenes were filmed in Alaska
  • Set Around: The fictional town of Keelut, Alaska

Based on the novel by William Giraldi, Hold the Dark is the story of a mother who hires a wolf tracker to hunt a pack blamed for the disappearance of three children, including her son. However, things are not quite as they seem in Keelut. Tracker Russell Core soon discovers a dark undercurrent at the heart of the happenings in the town.

On the Ice

67% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
2011 – Year Released
Rental – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Mostly unknown actors, some of whom make their film debut in On the Ice
  • Filmed In: Utqiagvik, AK
  • Set Around: Utqiagvik, AK

Three Inupiat teenagers go out seal hunting in the punishing wilderness around Utqiagvik, but only two return—with a story that doesn’t seem to hold up under examination. The incidents of that day set in motion a series of events that rock the lives not just the two teenagers but also those of the residents of Utqiagvik.

Togo

92% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
2019 – Year Released
Disney+ – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Willem Dafoe, Julianne Nicholson, and Zahn McClarnon (Westworld, Longmire).
  • Filmed In: Alberta, Canada
  • Set Around: Nome, AK

Togo chronicles the achievements of the sled dog breeder, trainer, and musher Leonhard Seppala and his extraordinary sled dog, Togo. The duo played a pivotal role in saving a significant number of lives during the 1925 diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska. Seppala’s team, led by Togo, journeyed hundreds of miles to collect life-saving serum as part of a relay team. Another sled dog named Balto would incorrectly be given the majority of the credit for the dangerous run (as well as a statue and an animated film in his honor). However, Togo sets the record straight by telling the true tale of the heroic dog who made the longest run in the relay—and the man who believed in him.

The Grey

79% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
2012 – Year Released
Rental – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Liam Neeson and Dermot Mulroney
  • Filmed In: British Columbia, Canada
  • Set Around: The remote Alaskan wilderness

A plane carrying pipeline workers back to Anchorage crashes in the Alaskan wilderness. As they struggle to find aid, the survivors are dogged by a pack of vicious, bloodthirsty wolves. The Grey tells the tale of the workers’ endurance—and their battle for survival.

The Edge

64% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
1997 – Year Released
Hulu – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, Bart the Bear, and Elle Macpherson
  • Filmed In: Alberta and British Columbia, Canada
  • Set Around: The remote Alaskan wilderness

You may start to notice a pattern here. The Alaska film scene is littered with survival dramas, and The Edge falls neatly into that genre. You might consider this film purely for its star power, but the real breakout performance comes from a relatively unknown actor. Keep your eyes on Bart the Bear, a trained Kodiak bear who also appeared in White Fang, The Bear, and Legends of the Fall. Bart, in character as a murderous bear, is just one of several challenges that a trio of men encounter after a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness. In summary, come for the survival story, stay for the bear.

Mystery, Alaska

37% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
1999 – Year Released
Rental – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Russell Crowe, Bury Reynolds, and Colm Meaney
  • Filmed In: Alberta, Canada
  • Set Around: The fictional town of Mystery, Alaska

If survival dramas are one genre that dominates Alaska films, quirky small-town life is the other. Case in point: Mystery, Alaska, a movie showcasing the eccentric residents of the fictional town of Mystery. In addition to myriad other idiosyncrasies, the townspeople also happen to be obsessed with hockey. A chance article in Sports Illustrated gives the town’s hockey team the chance to play against the New York Rangers, turning the entire town upside down.

Runaway Train

83% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
1985 – Year Released
Hulu – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Jon Voight, Danny Trejo, and Rebecca De Mornay
  • Filmed In: Whittier and Portage, Alaska, as well as locations in Montana
  • Set Around: Remote Alaska

Before you dismiss this one as a hokey ’80s action film, you should know a few things. First, Runaway Train was the was the inspiration for the movie Speed. So, no Runaway Train, no Speed. Second, it was responsible for launching the career of Danny Trejo, who went on to quite a storied career, most notably as the movie villain Machete.

If that’s not enough for you, lead actors Jon Voight and Eric Roberts also received Oscar nominations for their roles in the film. As you might have guessed, the plot revolves around a train hurtling across Alaska on a path to death and destruction. Voight and Roberts play two escaped convicts who had the misfortune of choosing this train as their getaway car.

Fun Fact: Several of the locomotives used in shooting were returned to service in the Alaska Railroad after the movie wrapped. Another is currently on display at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry Museum in Wasilla.

30 Days of Night

51% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
2007 – Year Released
Tubi – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Josh Hartnett and Melissa George
  • Filmed In: New Zealand
  • Set Around: Utqiagvik/Barrow, AK

If a month without sunlight doesn’t already sound tough enough, in 30 Days of Night, a group of vampires seizes this opportunity to attack the town of Barrow (now Utqiagvik). The town, led by its sheriff, resists with true Alaskan ingenuity, using the tools of the Alaska winter—light boxes and snowplows—to fight back.

Big Miracle

75% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
2012 – Year Released
Hulu – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Drew Barrymore, Kristen Bell, and John Krasinski
  • Filmed In: Seward and Anchorage, AK
  • Set Around: Point Barrow, AK

A news reporter and a Greenpeace volunteer overcome their differences to rescue a trio of whales trapped by ice in the Arctic Circle. The movie was inspired by true events, in which three gray whales were trapped in the ice near Barrow, AK in October 1988.

Grizzly Man

92% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
2005 – Year Released
Tubi – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Timothy Treadwell, activist and grizzly bear expert
  • Filmed In: Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska
  • Set Around: Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Werner Herzog’s fascinating, yet unsparing documentary covers the life of Timothy Treadwell, also known as the “Grizzly Man.” By piecing together footage from Treadwell’s own videos, plus interviews with family, friends, and experts, Herzog tells the story of a man who lived in close proximity to grizzly bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Reserve—until he was killed by one of the bears in 2003. It’s a stark look at the power of nature and humanity’s place within it.

On Deadly Ground

12% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
1994 – Year Released
Rental – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Steven Seagal, Michael Caine, and Billy Bob Thornton
  • Filmed In: Valdez and Nome, AK
  • Set Around:

This one might fall under the “so bad, it’s good” banner, but we couldn’t bear to leave it out. To make a long story short, Steven Seagal’s character, Forrest Taft, is the only man who can stop a big oil company from destroying the Alaskan wilderness. The film chronicles his journey through Alaska to right a wrong and save the world. In addition to being Seagal’s directorial debut, the film also features a young Billy Bob Thornton, as well as noted film actors Michael Caine and R. Lee Ermey.

The Proposal

45% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
2009 – Year Released
Peacock – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Ryan Reynolds, Sandra Bullock, and Betty White
  • Filmed In: Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA
  • Set Around: Sitka, Alaska

In full disclosure, this isn’t really a film centered around Alaska, but the town of Sitka does play a pivotal role in the plot. An overbearing executive (Sandra Bullock) strikes a deal to marry her assistant (Ryan Reynolds) in order to avoid deportation to Canada. As part of their bargain, the Bullock’s agrees to fly to Sitka, Alaska to meet his family. Throw in some classically quirky “Alaskans,” and hilarity ensures.

Fun Fact: A house in Manchester-by-the-Sea Massachusetts stood in as the setting for the section of the film set in Sitka.

The Guardian

37% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
2006 – Year Released
Rental – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher
  • Filmed In: Kodiak, AK
  • Set Around: Kodiak, AK

The Guardian follows a young trainee in the United States Coast Guard’s Aviation Survival Technician (AST) Program, which trains elite rescue swimmers. After successfully graduating, he’s assigned to a post in Kodiak, Alaska, where he confronts a challenging rescue with deep consequences.

White Fang

65% – Rotten Tomatoes Rating
1991 – Year Released
Disney+ – Where to Watch

Fast Facts:

  • Top Cast Members: A very young Ethan Hawke and Jed, a wolf-Alaskan Malamute hybrid
  • Filmed In: Haines and Skagway, AK
  • Set Around: Yukon Valley

Based on the novel by Jack London, White Fang follows the voyage of a young man who comes to Alaska in search of gold in the Yukon Valley. Along his journey, he meets a wolfdog named White Fang who saves his life from a vicious grizzly bear. The two form a deep bond that will be tested as both seek to discover their true nature—and their true home.

Fun Fact: Remember Bart the Bear from The Edge? You can also catch his excellent work in White Fang!

Let These Movies Transport You to Alaska

Whether you’re hoping these movies will offer you a taste of Alaska—or some entertainment during a harsh Alaska winter—they’re sure to transport you to a different time, place, or set of circumstances. Either way, they illustrate several of the features people cherish about Alaska: the incredible scenery, the unforgettable wildlife, and the quirky people who populate the state. However, do these movies actually reveal life in Alaska as it truly is? We’ll leave that up to you to decide!

Thinking of moving to Alaska? If watching movies isn’t Alaska-enough for you, we’d be happy to help you get your belongings to the Last Frontier. Just reach out to our experts for a free quote to get started.

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