It all started with “Airport” (1970). Then there was disaster at sea with “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972). And, of course, chaos on land followed with “Earthquake” and “The Towering Inferno“—both came out in 1974. All cashed in at the box office.
Hollywood’s addiction to disaster movies was born.
Over time, the Tinsel Town formula turned formulaic. Assemble a cast of well-known actors. String together a plot of people in peril. Stir in some stirring special effects. The results have ranged from decent movies like “Twister” (1996) to awful cinematic trash like the recent disaster of a disaster movie “San Andreas” (2015).
Now comes a film that does not follow the formula. “The Wave” (“Bolgen” in Norwegian) is a new movie from Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug. Last year, it was submitted for Oscar consideration as the best foreign film. Inexplicably, the movie didn’t get nominated.
What is at risk from the “wave” in the movie isn’t some metropolis. No—under peril is the picturesque tourist town of Geiranger overlooked by an ominous mountain. Kristian is part of tiny team monitoring the unstable Åkerneset, because when the hillside slides into the narrow adjacent fjord the rock debris will trigger a tsunami. Ten minutes later the wave will wipe out the village. The job of Kristian’s team is to warn the town before the unthinkable (but inevitable) occurs.
Guess what happens on Kristian’s last day on the job?
Everything about the film clicks. It is intense, engrossing, and engaging. And, unlike most disaster films, “The Wave” is incredibly realistic. People act like people really act both before and during disasters (including how to conduct CPR).
What is most frighteningly realistic is the way the movie details how humans contribute to catastrophes. Usually, it is not someone making one big mistake—but the cumulative effect of little errors that add up to big problems. This is how bad things happen to good people in the real world.
Find this film. Watch it.
Then think about being smarter about taking care of yourself and your family.