Lanzarote has featured in a number of films, TV and videos over the years. Here’s our list of some of the island’s most famous and memorable appearances.
Mararía is probably the most well-known Spanish-language novel about Lanzarote. Written in 1973 by the Tenerife writer Rafael Arozarena, it tells the tale of a traveller who arrives at the village of Femes in search of a woman known as Mararía. Now old, she has a mysterious and seemingly accursed past behind her.
The novel was adapted for cinema by Antonio José Betancor in 1998, and the film makes the most of the sweeping beauty of the island. It stars the well-respected Spanish actor Carmelo Goméz, Scottish actor Iain Glen and, in her first major film role, Arrecife lass Goya Toledo as the young Mararía.
Unfortunately, the book has not yet been translated into English and the film does not appear to have an English subtitled version, but you can get an idea of the romantic nature of the story from this trailer.
German film makers such as Werner Herzog and Volker Schlöndorff journeyed to the wild landscapes of Lanzarote in their earlier, experimental years, but it was Wolfgang Peterson, who shot to fame with Das Boot and later went to film blockbusters such as Outbreak and The Perfect Storm, who returned to the island to make a big budget feature film.
Enemy Mine is a fascinating film that stars Dennis Quaid and Lou Gosset Jr as two space warriors stranded on a hostile planet. Much of the hostile planet is actually Timanfaya, with many scenes shot in what are now highly protected areas.
Lanzarote has stood in for space several times in film and TV, but this is probably the film that makes the most of the stark, volcanic scenery.
BLACK MIRROR: U.S.S. CALLISTER
Charlie Brooker’s acclaimed Netflix series came to Lanzarote in 2017 to film scenes for its fourth season. Lanzarote locations popped up in more than one of the episodes, but it was the dark Star Trek spoof USS Callister that really made the most of the island.
Two main scenes were used: the Playa de Bermeja in Yaiza, one of the most impressive black sand beaches on the island, with the red Montaña Bermeja rising in the background; and the Rofera de Teseguite – an abandoned quarry in Teguise whose weird, wind-sculpted landscapes have taken many visitors by surprise.
DR. WHO: PLANET ON FIRE
The universe’s most famous Time Lord last turned up on Lanzarote in 2014, when Peter Capaldi’s Doctor was filmed at the Volcán del Cuervo, among other locations.
But the first Doctor to park the Tardis here was Peter Davison in the 1984 series Planet of Fire. Unusually, an island that so often stands in for alien planets or prehistoric landscapes plays the holiday island of Lanzarote in this sci-fi series, in which the Doctor and his assistant Turlough encounter a holidaying American, Peri Brown, who would go on to become one of the Doctor’s favourite assistants.
In this clip we see Peri nearly drown off Papagayo, while the Doctor offers to pay for his drink with space creds in Orzola (we think – let us know if you’ve got a better idea).
THE STONE ROSES – I WANNA BE ADORED/FOOLS GOLD
In 1989 the Stone Roses had already had a moderate UK hit with I Wanna Be Adored, but it was the follow up single Fool’s Gold whose influence would echo through the decade to come and put Manchester at the centre of Britain’s musical map.
Stone Roses guitarist John Squire had holidayed on Lanzarote as a teenager, and his artistic eye had been caught by the island’s strange, volcanic landscapes. So it was at his suggestion that a film crew headed for the island to film videos to promote the new single and the US released of Adored.
Both videos are similar, the band play, walk and throw stones while Ian Brown does a bit of monkey dancing in front of scenes of Timanfaya, all beneath a sky that has been artificially transformed into a purple haze. It’s probably the introduction to Adored that captures Lanzarote’s peaceful beauty.
NAJWA – DONDE RUGEN LOS VOLANES
Najwa Nimri is a Spanish/Jordanian actor and singer who shot to fame in the brutal, brilliant film Salto Al Vacio in 1995. Since then she’s starred in the film Abre Los Ojos (the original version of Tom Cruise thriller Vanilla Sky) and the hugely successful TV series Vis A Vis, as well as making several hit singles in a moody, electro style.
Donde Rugen Los Volcanes (Where’s the Volcanoes Roar) may not be one of her biggest hits, but it’s one of the moodiest, most evocative videos to be shot on Lanzarote, blending everyday sights such as a petrol station and roofs covered with satellite dishes with stunning volcanic scenes and a hotel in Famara.
OMAR SHARIF – MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
This Spanish TV series starring Omar Sharif was later adapted into a film that is often found on late night TV throughout Europe. It’s an entertaining version of Jules Verne;s classic novel about Captain Nemo and his submarine The Nautilus, and it features some stunning footage filmed on Lanzarote.
However, the film isn’t as famous on Lanzarote as the legend it gave rise to, when Sharif arrived on Lanzarote to make the film and fell in love with the LagOmar complex at Nazaret, which he bought. However , despite being one of the top 50 contract bridge players in the world, Sharif is said to have lost the complex in a card game shortly afterwards.
Apart from scenes set at El Golfo and Playa Bermejo, the show also seems to have included footage of the spectacular 1971 eruption of the Teneguia colvano in La Palma, the last land-based volcanic eruption on the Canaries.
ROAD TO SALINA
In 1969 a film crew arrived at the Hotel Lancelot in Arrecife to film a “suspense thriller” on the island. French director Georges Lautner had assembled a cast that included Robert Walker (who had appeared in Easy Rider the year before), and Mimsy Farmer, a young actress who had appeared in biker movies in the US and would go on to appear in several Italian cult films.
The biggest star of all, however, was Rita Hayworth, the most glamorous screen goddess of the 1940s. At the age of 52, however, she was already suffering symptoms of what would be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. It would be her penultimate film.
Lanzarote and Fuerteventura received worldwide coverage when the teaser trailer for the Marvel film Eternals was released in 2021.
The trailer, which has received over 30 million views, shows scenes set in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, where the filmmakers arrived to shoot several scenes from the film. Skeeter Davis’s 1962 hit “The End of the World” adds an apocalyptic touch to the scenes.
On Lanzarote, Salma Hayek posted a selfie of herself drinking a beer and overlooking Playa Dorada in Playa Blanca, where she stayed while filming her scenes for the film. The main Lanzarote location was the Volcán del Cuervo, the volcano with the shark’s fin beside the LZ56 road from Masdache to Mancha Blanca. This little-known tourist attraction is open to the public and is well worth a visit if you haven’t got around to it yet.
ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.
Perhaps the most iconic film that has featured the Lanzarote landscape. Raquel Welch arrived on Lanzarote in the winter of 1965 with the film crew of 1,000,000 Years BC.
The role had been turned down by Ursula Andress, and Welch accepted it because she wanted to film in swinging London. Instead she arrived on an island that was just starting to emerge from decades of poverty to become the tourist hotspot it is today.
Welch had just three lines in the film, and much of her role involved pretending to be attacked by dinosaurs that were later added by special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen. But her stunning beauty and statuesque figure ensured that the film was a big hit.
The famous poster of Raquel Welch in her deerskin bikini also featured in The Shawshank Redemption, where it was used to hide the escape tunnel.
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