Alaska remains a popular setting upon which writers and directors can project their fantasies. Oddly, despite the many new movies and television programs about Alaska, few are actually produced here.
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London (1903): Classic tale of the Klondike gold rush from the point of view of a dog sent to pull a sled. London published it just 5 years after giving up on the gold rush himself after suffering scurvy in a Yukon cabin (Aladdin).
Coming into the Country, by John McPhee (1976): A gifted nonfiction writer captures the spirit of Alaska during the years of transition that marked the end of the frontier. McPhee's vivid portraits of backcountry personalities portray the motivations of the sort of odd people you may yet encounter (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).
The Last Light Breaking: Living Among Alaska's Inupiat Eskimos, by Nick Jans (2007): This collection of meticulously crafted essays by a man who lived in the villages of Northwest Alaska for years provides a vivid picture of the lives of rural Alaskans (Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company).
Ordinary Wolves, by Seth Kantner (2004): This harrowing autobiographical novel is a compelling and realistic account of life in the Alaska Bush, in all its beauty and hardship. Kantner grew up in a sod hut before his rough introduction to the urban world, and many say this is the best novel to come out of Alaska (Milkweed Editions).
A Cold Day for Murder (1993): This is the first of Edgar Award winner Dana Stabenow's wildly popular Kate Shugak mystery series. A former investigator for the Anchorage District Attorney's office, Native Alaskan Shugak solves crimes all over the state. Stabenow is the most successful of Alaska's mystery writers, which include John Straley and Sue Henry (Poisoned Pen Press).
Mystery, Alaska (1999): A pond hockey team from small-town Alaska gets to play the New York Rangers. Some found the film heartwarming, but more were disappointed by the clichés and lack of substance. Weekend pond hockey is a real tradition in some of Alaska's rural communities.
Insomnia (2002): A gritty police thriller set in a small town in Alaska during the summer, when the sun never sets. Al Pacino gives a brilliant performance as an ethically stained detective who can't get to sleep.
Grizzly Man (2005): Probably the best movie yet made about Alaska, Werner Herzog's documentary explores humanity's relation to nature using film shot by a misguided animal lover who ultimately was eaten by the bears he befriended.
Into the Wild (2007): Director Sean Penn's dramatization of the true story of a young wanderer who died in the Alaska wilderness, the movie is packed with spectacular scenery and was filmed on location.
The Simpsons Movie (2007): The summer blockbuster cut uncomfortably close to home with its portrayal of greedy Alaskans eager to destroy the environment. Homer seemed so darned at home here, a place where "you can never be too fat or too drunk."
Northern Exposure (1990-95): The comedy series about a spoiled New York doctor forced to practice medicine in an eccentric Alaskan town remains the most perceptive screen portrayal of such places (despite the fact that it was filmed in Roslyn, Washington). It sometimes shows in reruns and is available on DVD.
Deadliest Catch: Crab Fishing in Alaska (2005-present): This surprise hit records the real-life hazards and conflicts of hard-driving fishermen as they battle the notoriously bad weather of the Bering Sea (Discovery Channel).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.