At the Movies: Eco-Disaster, Norwegian Style
There’s a thing about Norwegian Fjords, highly scenic narrow inlets surrounded by tall, steep mountains. If a mountainside should collapse — which they sometimes do — there will be a tsunami which will cross that fjord as a possibly eighty-meter high wave in a very short time. Thus tonight at the Indiana University cinema the screening was the Norwegian film THE WAVE, in which geologist-hero Kristin who works for the local resort community’s warning center is getting ready, with his family, to move on to a new, cushy job with an oil company. Indeed, they’re packed up and will move tomorrow except that Kristin, who has trouble leaving his old gig behind, notices something funny on the sensors that measure the local mountain’s activity. It’s all a bit odd, though — nothing to worry about most likely, except the family is delayed one more night and Mom, in the meantime, what with the tourist season just starting, decides to help out in her just-resigned head night clerk role at the local hotel.
Well, you can probably see what’s coming. These types of movies do have a pattern, but nevertheless it’s well done, especially in the movie’s first half as more anomalous signals come in, geologists in the field gather more data, and one sees the big one gathering steam with the same never-quite-complete vision the characters themselves would have. Until, that is . . . well, the movie has been praised for beautiful mountain photography and, when it starts to let loose. . . .
The family dynamic works nicely in THE WAVE too. The acting is good, though as a writer I did have one qualm. One of the characters acts irresponsibly, although in innocence, but in a way that later may have caused a number of deaths and which therefore gave me trouble rooting for the character to survive. But it brings up a moral question as well which is worth considering: to what extent might one risk other people’s lives in order to try to save one he or she loves?
I don’t think it’s easy, and in this I found THE WAVE more thought provoking than the average disaster flick. Add to that the first part’s suspense as the disaster approaches, plus nice photography in general, plus, when it happens with a warning time of only ten minutes for a whole town to be evacuated, a realization of how many dumb things can just go wrong, and I found it an interesting evening’s viewing.