Not waving but drowning…
A few days ago, after a lot of fruitless flipping through Netflix, my son and I settled on a Norwegian disaster movie called Bølgen (The Wave). I mean, really, who could resist this?
The film is set in Geiranger Fjord, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the biggest tourist attractions in Norway. According to Wikipedia, one of the mountains is threatening to collapse into the fjord and cause a tsumani that would flood several local towns within ten minutes. Now that’s a scenario that screams disaster movie. The first hour was pretty good at setting the scene with fabulous scenery, happy but oblivious locals, and one nervous scientist set to leave the area the very day the rock hits the water. Unfortunately, after the tsunami strikes, the movie heads into preposterous plot territory and just becomes stupid.
In many ways, the Norwegian flick was a rip-off of 2012’s far superior, The Impossible, a film that chronicled the true story of a family caught in the terrible Indian Ocean tsunami of Boxing Day 2004.
It is not for the squeamish.
The actors deserve awards for enduring the filming, although there is something disquieting about attempting to recapture such an event so soon after it happened. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t do better at the box office. Somehow, one feels that we owe the dead and the survivors their peace.
If you’d prefer what one reviewer called a “thinking man’s Hollywood disaster flick”, why not try Peter Weir’s mystical and strange, The Last Wave (1977)?
Part mystery, part apocalyptic prophecy, part social commentary, The Last Wave will certainly bend your mind. Richard Chamberlain plays a lawyer assigned to defend 5 Aborigines accused of drowning one of their own. Over the course of the movie, Chamberlain’s understanding of reality is pushed to the brink. The final scenes, in which he frantically attempts to escape an endless sewer system, are truly creepy and, of course,
include suitable homage to the Third Man.
In case you are wondering, (spoiler alert) Weir saves the actual wave for the very end of the film.
Doubtless I have omitted other movies, whose plots involve big waves wiping out civilization (or part of it), but this will do for starters. What would you add?