If Walter Mitty visited the real Greenland

Walter Mitty nearly gets eaten by a shark in Greenland waters! Source: Deshi Film

If you’ve been to Nuuk before, you’ll know the differences between reality and the make-believe of Walter Mitty.

This blog post was first published in the Greenland Travel Guide

Stereotypical fun
‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ is a sweet film about a daydreamer who suddenly finds himself on a real-life quest. This adventure takes him to among other places Greenland, Iceland and Afghanistan. The majority of the movie was filmed in the stunning country of Iceland.

The movie makes fun with a lot of stereotypes. Greenland included. There’s a big dose of humour based on the generalisations people might have of the country. That’s saying it nicely. For those that have travelled to Nuuk before, you know that Walter Mitty would probably have been more impressed with the real city.

Here are six creative edits about Greenland from the producers of the movie:

That huge jumbo jet
Walter Mitty flies from the USA to Greenland on a jumbo jet. He arrives in Nuuk, and the plane is so much bigger than the airport building. Two people get out of the plane.

You wouldn’t be able to fly directly to Nuuk on a jumbo jet. The runway is too small and surrounded by mountains for that type of aircraft to land. A common plane people take to arrive in Nuuk is something like a Dash-8-200, which holds 37 passengers. Generally, you’d have to either fly to Iceland or Copenhagen to start your journey to Greenland.

By the way, if you are flying on Air Greenland, watch out for the chocolate chip cookies and sweets they offer on each flight. They are a classic!

The city of Nuuk
The paint on all the buildings are peeling. There is limited sign of life. The city consists of a few buildings, the centerpiece being the pub. Nuuk is portrayed kinda like a backway town in a country western movie that has seen better days.

Nuuk is much more modern, even more cosmopolitan than you think. One thing for sure is that it’s certainly livelier and prettier than portrayed in the movie! The city is positioned right by a fjord, with looming mountains in view. Charming multicoloured houses pepper the landscape. The city might not be New York or Shanghai, but it’s got its own flavour of Arctic cool (excuse the pun).

8 drunk Eskimos live in Greenland
Walter Mitty tries to track down a picture of a ship and a thumb and ends up in Greenland. It’s at the local pub where Walter finds the man who owns the thumb. The man says that Greenland’s one of the better places to find someone, since there are only, like, 8 people who live in the country (about five of them were in the pub).

Truth be told, Greenland has a tiny population. Still, the capital has nearly 16,000 folks, and the country altogether about 57,000 inhabitants. Greenland has its mix of people who have received a wide spectrum of education. So let’s just say Greenland is much more than just eight drunk people living it up in a pub. You’ll also probably find more than eight drunk people ;)

That beer boot!
At the pub, beer is served in a beer boot. Awesome.

The beer boot is largely associated with Germany. Apparently it’s getting big in America. They aren’t popular in Nuuk…yet!

Greenland dogs
In the movie, there are Greenland dogs sitting outside the pub. They are visible around the city.

The Greenland dog is a signature of Greenland, and dog sledding is a really popular tourist activity.  However, you won’t be finding any of those around in Nuuk. The  breed is only allowed to live north of the Arctic circle and in East Greenland.

The red car or blue car?
Walter Mitty goes to rent a car at the airport – he gets the choice of the red one or the blue one.

There are a few places you can rent a car in Nuuk, but you don’t really need one as a tourist. There are plenty of taxis to take you from the airport, and regular buses can take you to most destinations. Fun fact: there’s about 3500 cars here in Nuuk – and you can drive from one side of the city to the other in 15 minutes. =)

Well, that’s all for now. Feel free to list thoughts or more differences below!

Nuuk in Spring time – looking towards the old part of the city. Source: The Fourth Continent

20 thoughts on “If Walter Mitty visited the real Greenland

  1. Pingback: Randomly meeting Korean DJ Morebomb | The Fourth Continent

  2. I finally saw this movie on a plane! And you can ask Andrew – I literally said, “Now I can reply to Tanny’s post!” I wasn’t that into the movie itself, but I stuck it out until I saw the Nuuk bit 🙂

    I found it really curious how the movie made some attempts to be accurate with relation to Greenland while at the same time was willing to be totally inaccurate about other aspects.

    Accurate aspects I noticed:
    * The Air Greenland logo.
    * The Greenlander-speaking-English accent.
    * The airplane/helicopter registration code (OY-xxx).
    * The flag.
    * The language. I think the pub (or else the car rental?!) was called Tuugaalik (Narwhal in Greenlandic).

    I did notice the same bogus points as you noticed, plus a few other silly ones!
    * The sidewalks. In the movie they were clearly defined and raised 8-9 cm from the street level, but in Nuuk this is not the way! I remember the first days being unsure if I was walking on street or sidewalk!? Only the street lamps, where they exist, give a clue.
    * The flag orientation. Even though the flag is correct, I think I remembered it hanging sideways in the movie!

    Well, my life is complete now that I have been able to comment on your blog post! See you!

    • Hi Sarah, It shows how intimately in tune you are with Greenland, considering those things are minute minute details! =D

      The movie was probably not the best, but it was fun in its own way. Funny to see Iceland in so many different settings too!

      Thanks for replying, I’m glad to help bring more meaning to your life 😉


  3. Ah ok! That makes sense that the airport was filmed in Hofn and the centre was in Stikki. I’ve been to Stykkisholmur too, but don’t remember it that well. It also looks much nicer in real life – and that’s a beautiful photo!

  4. It did my head in that he arrives at Nuuk Airport (played by Höfn Airport on Iceland), drives to Nuuk (Stykkishólmur on Iceland) and then later longboards down to Stykkishólmur (Seyðisfjörður on other side of Iceland).

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