Vísir 19th January 1980

Movie ‘Out into the unknown’ in Iceland


“Special effects were the most surprising” says Ágúst Baldursson, assistant cameraman.

What struck me, perhaps the most surprising, were the incredible special effects used in the film. The formidable ammunition explosions were really only little bangers and bullet wounds were small blood bombs that ‘victims’ helped trigger by pressing the button they had in the palm of their hand.

said Ágúst Baldursson, the film, ‘Out into the unknown’, was filmed here in the summer of 1978. Ágúst worked as an assistant cameraman and also drove the car for actors in awesome pursuits.

Now we can finally get to see the film adapted from the book by Desmond Bagley. The first part of three will be shown on TV Wednesday.

Several Icelandic actors have roles in the film. Ragnheiður Steindórsdóttir plays Elín, which is one of the leading roles in the film. Then Steindór Hjörleifsson, Flosi Ólafsson and Jón Sigbjörnsson also have roles in the film.

Everyone wants the protagonist dead

The main character of the film is a British intelligence officer who comes to this country. His own colleagues as well as his enemies, who are evil Russians, chase him. Everyone wants him dead. Despite numerous attempts to catch him, the hero escapes intact at all times in the story, which is as it should be. Ágúst said:

One of the first scenes that was filmed in this country was a fight between the main actor Stuart Wilson and Steindór Hjörleifsson who plays a Russian. Although this scene is only two minutes in the film it took about eight hours to get it on film.

Summer house is blown up

One scene was filmed in the summer house in Þingvöllum. There was a big scene, when it came to ‘blow it up into the air’. They constructed a detailed imitation of the big house in front of the actual one. Special bombs were used to blow it to pieces. The ground was peppered with smoke and craters. After this they had to escape from the fire.

Ágúst also said how the protagonist killed the enemy by throwing a knife at him.

The camera was first directed at the enemy as he held the knife, and it looked like the knife had been thrust into his abdomen. Then the knife was thrust into a dummy. A string had previously been tied to the shaft. The camera was directly focused on the dummy when the string was pulled, which pulled the knife out of its abdomen. When this film is shown backwards it looks as if the knife flies out of the protagonist’s hand into the abdomen of the enemy.

Working in the Highlands

There are a few scenes up in the highlands in the film. There is a great chase in the movie, where a plane chases the car used by the British intelligence officer. In the plane, of course, evil Russians, which in this case is none other than Ómar Ragnarsson.

We had all kinds of vehicles, for example in Landmnnalaugum, we tried to cross the river in a truck outside of the ford. As we got further into the river the trip ended in such a way that the jeep was submerged and we couldn’t reach the bank on the other side. The bus that was traveling with us rescued the jeep from the river.

Previously, many people had died following the order from the director. However towards the end, when time was running out, the actors forgot to die in the right places. In many cases it was not possible to reshoot the scenes, but this was edited in the film processing.

‘Standins’ played a major role in the film. They were actually two dummies that were dressed up according to the circumstances; the first was the spy killed in the first scene. The fate of the second was to go over Dettifoss.

– KP

Image titles

From Svaðilför into the highlands (Landmannalaugum). SUV submerged in the river and the bus that recovered it. On the bank stand Ragnheiða Steindórsdóttir and Stuart.

Shooting at Reykjavík Harbour – Pictures Ágúst Baldursson.

Shot of shooting the car’s radiator, and to make it all look it has been hit, smoke is pumped under the hood, so everything looks realistic.

Ágúst Baldursson assisted the filming crew in different ways, e.g. He drove a car in a spectacular chase in the film.

Next: The aircraft, props and vessels used in the tv production


1. Vísir (1980). ‘Að tjaldabaki við kvikmyndn á Út í óvissuna’ (19th January 1980 p. 1,2) © DV ehf.