🇳🇴 THE WAVE 🇳🇴
(by Gina Meardon)
THE WAVE (2015) is a Norwegian drama-thriller on Amazon Prime UK and Ireland, Hulu US, Hoopla Can, Rent/Buy YouTube Aus. 1 hour 45 minutes. 15 cert U.K. Subtitles available. Languages: Norwegian, some English.
Although anticipated, no-one is really prepared when the mountain pass above the scenic, narrow Norwegian fjord Geiranger collapses and creates an 85-meter-high violent tsunami. A geologist and his family are amongst those caught in the middle of it.
Kristoffer Joner as Kristian Eikjord
Ane Dahl Torp as Idun Karlsen
Jonas Hoff Oftebro as Sondre
Edith Haagenrud-Sande as Julia
Fridtjov Såheim as Arvid Øvrebø
Arthur Berning as Jacob Vikra
Thomas Bo Larsen as Phillip
Director: Roar Uthaug
Cinematographer: John Christian Rosenlund
Writers: John Kåre Raake, Harald Rosenløw-Eng
Music: Magnus Beite
The tag line at the beginning of the film is “it has happened before. It will happen again.” “It” refers to a mountain collapsing into a fjord a century before causing a tidal wave that wiped out the tourist village of Geiranger.
In reality, this DID happen, not to Geiranger but nearby in Tafjord in 1934, when 40 people from 3 villages died when 3 tsunami waves up to 60 feet high sped down the fjord.
The Wave was the first disaster movie made in Norway and Scandinavia.
Filming Locations: Geiranger, Stranda, Møre og Romsdal (Norway). All interior filming Media Pro Studios, Bucharest, Romania.
As disaster movies go, I have to say that this one is really enjoyable. It opens with stunning scenery, perfectly clear skies, majestic mountains framing a picture-postcard fjord, a perfect paradise holiday destination or place to live. Hard to believe a tsunami could happen anywhere else but in an ocean, because mountains don’t collapse, do they?
Kristian Eikjord (Kristoffer Joner) is returning home to his family in Geiranger, he is a geologist who has taken a job in Stavanger working for an oil company. He has spent too long working at the monitoring station in Geiranger watching for any seismic movement that would signal disaster. This is his last day, he is gathering his family and taking them to a new life in Stavanger.
Ane Dahl Torp plays Idun, Kristian’s partner. She is a manager at the local hotel and good at her job, competent, cool, calm and collected. She knows, with guests still staying, it will be a few more days before she can leave but unconcerned, she waves off Kristian and their children, teenager Sondra and young daughter Julia. Thankfully, there is no cute pet dog in this film!
Something happens whilst queuing for the ferry (l won’t say what) that makes Kristian turn back and head to the monitoring station, as a consequence they miss the ferry. Sondra chooses to stay at the hotel with his mother (by the shoreline, of course, where else would the hotel be!) and Julia with her father at their old home further along the valley.
Once a family gets separated you just know that things are going to start happening. One of the strengths of this film is how the sublime cinematography conveys the powerful might of nature. How a mountain can start to shift! The scene inside a cliff face with 2 geologists caught inside when that does indeed happen, is a real hold your breath moment.
Nature is a force that cannot be stopped. When the inevitable happens and the evacuation alarm sounds, the village and surrounding area have 10 minutes to evacuate to safety.
You do feel the fear and tension that builds in this film. It certainly makes you think, what would you do? That is a sobering thought for me as someone who happens to live in a village, in a valley, beside the sea, surrounded by hills and a cliff-face.
The 10-minute countdown is precisely that. Watches are set. For Idun it is a race against time to get her guests and staff on the tourist bus and out to safety, there is only one problem, she can’t find her son. For Kristian he knows he has to outdrive the 85-metre-high wave in less than 10 minutes, along with just about everyone else now clogging up the mountain road… further down the valley he can see the hotel but there is nothing he can do for them.
I don’t want to say much more to avoid spoilers. This is where the film develops 2 storylines of survival. The aftereffects of the wave, with everywhere plunged into darkness, is like a post-apocalyptic scene, an Armageddon, it is truly terrifying.
Ane Dahl Torp never fails to impress me and she certainly doesn’t let me down here, Idun is one gutsy lady! Kristoffer Joner was outstanding as Kristian and won Best Actor at the Kosmorams Trondheim International Film Festival 2016 for the role. He plays him not as a super-hero but as a man fearing for the safety of his family and community – we can all relate to that. This is very much a character-driven film about how people try to survive a catastrophe and it does take time during the first part of the film to develop those characters.
The supporting cast is good, especially the characters at the Monitoring Station who are first to face the horror of what was unfolding. I am thinking here especially of Fridtjov Såheim (who played Arvid Øvrebo) and Arthur Berning (Jacob Vikra). Thomas Bo Larsen has a small but important role as a Danish tourist on holiday with his wife and plays the role in true ‘Bo Larsen’ style. His fans will not be disappointed.
I know I keep enthusing about the cinematography, but this is the film’s over-riding strength. From the stunning vibrant azure blues of sky and water, lush valley greens, and white snow-capped mountains that make up the palette of the early scenes, to the grim overwhelming darkness when the wave hits, the golden lights of the village gone, the dirty grey of tidal water matching the grey slate of the crumbling mountain. Then there are the incredible helicopter shots of the fjord and inside the mountain, absolutely amazing!
To finish, I can definitely recommend this film, although maybe not if you have a fjord cruise booked any time soon and it may be worthwhile to see just how long you can hold your breath underwater!
7 wins and 9 nominations including:
Amanda Award Winner Best Film (2016) Norway
Amanda Award Winner Best Visual Effects (2016) Norway
Kanonprisen Winner Best Male Actor in a Leading Role, Kosmorama Trondheim International Film Festival, Norway, 2016