This week my seminar class gathered to watch The Wave, also known as Bølgen, which is a Norwegian disaster movie, directed by Roar Uthaug in 2015. The film is based in a Norwegian tourist town, Geiranger, centred on the family of geologist, Kristian Eikjord. The main plot revolves around the discovery and monitoring of a crevasse in the mountains that is contracting, resulting in landslide which creates an 80 meter tsunami, wiping out the town in 10 minutes. This is portrayed with an impressive use of special effects, focusing on the aftermath of the destruction.
The main points of discussion afterwards were about how we found humour in parts where people just stared at the tsunami in awe, rather than running away. However, it struck me that something of that magnitude would be unimaginable and unrecognisable to see, causing the body to go into a state of shock. Within the film, members of the town were depicted to be unsure if the tsunami alarm was real or a practice, suggesting that the people who live in Gerianger never believed that the disaster would happen in their time, otherwise stricter evacuation plans would be in place. This was also emphasised by the hesitancy of the geologists to sound the warning siren, as a result of not wanted to panic people if it was a false alarm, or cutting the tourist season short. This was highly ironic because they would be no tourist season at all if the town was wiped out.
Natural disasters are portrayed in these epic movies with amazing soundscapes and drama of families being reunited at the end. But in reality, many families will not have a happy ending when experiencing a natural disaster. In just under 10 years, from 1994 to 2003, M-DAT recorded 6,873 natural disasters worldwide, claiming approximately 1.35 million lives. As a result of the planet’s unpredictable behaviour, it’s the sort of thing you see on the news and believe that it will never happen to you, yet takes lives in every corner of the world.
Although disaster movies of this sort do not focus on the consequences of human actions, but rather natural disastrous events, the human still has to be at the centre of the film in order for us to understand how they impact our lives. Natural disasters wouldn’t be called disasters if nothing man-made was affected by it. In this instance, the film as an environmental script makes people aware of their physically environment, but does not give solutions or preventative information on how to help the effects.
Pollution solution: Look for locally based charities, rather than big organisations, when donating money in aid of natural disasters
Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters and UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, ‘The human cost of natural disasters 2015: a global perspective’ (2015) Online: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/human-cost-natural-disasters-2015-global-perspective