The Wave (Norway)
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The Wave (Norway)
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by Taj Bates
Some of us, when we leave a job, we’re like, “biyeee, I’m outtie like an Audi!”
But for Kristian Elkjord, a geologist who’s about to leave the Nordic village of Geiranger for a lucrative job in the big city, it’s not that simple.
For years, he has worked at a governmental Early Warning Center, monitoring geologic activity in and around Åkerneset, a 2,952 foot (900 m) mountain near the popular tourist hamlet of Geiranger, nestled in the fjordlands of western Norway.
For years, he has diligently monitored data readings, geologic gauges and meteorological sensors for the smallest sign of an impending rockslide of disastrous proportion.
For, in the yin and yang of nature, every beautiful destination has a dark side—a natural disaster lying in wait around the bend. A hurricane, earthquake, tornado, wildfire, flood, sandstorm, volcanic eruption . . .
In the fjords of Norway, the big bad wolf comes in the form of a landslide tsunami.
In real life, Åkerneset is one of the most monitored mountains in the world because it has an ominous crack that is 2,296 feet (700 m) long and 98 feet (30 m) wide. As the crack widens and deepens with each passing year, it’s not a question of if it will cause a massive landslide. But when.
Scientists estimate that, when it happens, 150 million tons of rock will crash into the fjord, generating a series of tsunami waves that will rise upwards of 262 feet (80 m) high.
A series of waves so swift and so powerful, it will wipe out Geiranger ten minutes later.
In April 1934, a landslide tsunami devastated the nearby villages of Fjørå and Tafjord (before and after, pictured below). In July 1958, the forests surrounding Alaska’s Lituya Bay. In October 1963, a procession of villages in northern Italy, claiming nearly 2,000 lives.
Such is the life-and-death scenario Kristian is suddenly albatrossed with in The Wave, the moment he realizes Åkerneset is about to heave-ho in the dark of night, giving him less than ten minutes to sound the alarm for townspeople and tourists alike, whilst making sure his own wife and kids get to higher ground and safety. . . before it’s too late.
The Wave is a modest disaster flick with modest special effects that are nothing to write home about.
Yet, what it lacks in mega Hollywood budget, it more than makes up for with panoramic shots of the natural landscape. . . before disaster strikes.
The cinematography in this film is breathtaking. So much so, there’s a good chance it will have you wanderlusting for a scenic drive, helicopter ride and refreshing sail along the fjords of western Norway, stat.
The film was shot on-location in Gieranger (pictured above), which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and Norway’s third largest cruise ship port. The village is home to just 250 residents, but it swells to over 300,000 visitors in summer.
In watching The Wave, it’s easy to see why. This is one gorgeous corner of the world.
Sightseeing highlights include mountain hiking, canyoning, kayaking, fishing, rafting, gorgeous waterfalls and biking or driving on the Trollstigen (the troll’s road), a serpentine, mountain road built in the 1930s where you can bask in soaring peaks, fields of green and calm glacial waters whilst en route to and from Geiranger.
The comforting news for locals and tourists alike is that Åkerneset is so closely monitored, there’s a good chance the government will be able to evacuate the area approximately 72 hours before a life-threatening tsunami is predicted to strike.
Luckily, we live in a day and age when real-life geologists, meteorologists, seismologists and other scientific rock stars are vigilantly keeping watch—as we blissfully plan and enjoy vacations in the world’s most beautiful destinations—ever at the ready to sound the early alarm when the next natural disaster starts to rumble its way around the bend.
The very day he’s about to drive his family to a new life in the city, geologist Kristian Elkjord senses something wrong with the mountain that overlooks his scenic town.
No one wants to believe that this could be the big one, especially with tourist season at its peak, but when a landslide from the mountain sends tons of rock and earth crashing into the sea, everyone has ten minutes to outrace the resulting tsunami to higher ground in this thrilling action spectacular.