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Norwegian Disaster Movies:
Fictional & Actual

[1]3,390 words

What is it about disaster movies that we find so fascinating? In real life we do everything we possibly can to avoid being in a disaster, yet we can happily spend an hour or two watching people suffering in the most horrific situations on a screen. But this is also the very reason we love a good disaster movie: They remind us that we live in a broken, fallen world. Some disasters we bring on ourselves, some are inflicted on us by others, and others are what used to be called “acts of God.” Thus, watching a good disaster movie gives us a chance to mentally prepare ourselves for an actual disaster we might face one day. If you’re really engaged with someone in a movie sliding towards certain death and desperately trying to escape, the thought is going to cross your mind: “What would I have done in that situation?”

After reading about Greg Johnson surviving the disaster inflicted by the Norwegian Thought Police, I rewatched two great Norwegian disaster movies: The Wave (2015), directed by Roar Uthaug, and its sequel, The Quake (2018), directed by John Andreas Andersen. Both were written by John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenløw-Eeg, and both star Kristoffer Joner as Kristian Eikjord.

The Wave is set in the stunning Geiranger Fjord – the fjordiest fjord you could possibly imagine. Ask anyone what they picture when you mention Norway and they will probably describe something that looks like a massive lake at the bottom of the Grand Canyon surrounded by forests, mountains, and swirling clouds. Its sides are so insanely steep that it is a wonder that anyone could live in such a hostile landscape, and so the film quickly reveals that the village of Geiranger lies on a small scrap of flat land at the head of the fjord.

It must take an exceptional people to be able to turn someplace so hostile into somewhere that enjoys all the amenities of the twenty-first century and yet retains all its natural beauty. As the ice sheets slowly retreated from northern Europe twenty thousand years ago, the area we know today as the North Sea was an open landscape centered on what archaeologists today call the Dogger Hills. For twelve thousand years or so, the ancestors of all northern Europeans could follow herds of game from the River Rhine in the east, across the Dogger Hills in the middle, and over to the still, dry coastlands one hundred miles off what today is the west coast of Ireland. Then, sometime between 6225 and 6170 BC, about 840 cubic miles (3,500 cubic kilometres) of rock cleaved off a Norwegian mountainside and fell into the sea. This generated a tsunami thirty feet (ten meters) high. It was still fifteen feet (five meters) high when it hit the eastern coast of Scotland. The whole of Doggerland was annihilated, and today the entire area is submerged beneath the North Sea. Fishermen still dredge up deer antlers from Dogger Bank, together with the spearheads our ancestors once used to kill them. What the flood of Noah is to the Bible, the Storegga Slide Flood is to Northern Europeans. It separated us as a common people and gave us our Atlantis. The only people to survived this cataclysm (and the thousands of smaller catastrophes that followed it) were those who learned how to survive a disaster. Perhaps this is why disaster movies are so popular with our people.

The same specter of disaster still looms over Geiranger Fjord today. On one side of the Fjord stands a massive pinnacle of rock cleft from its mountain by the Åkernes crevasse. One day this fissure will crack, and millions of tons of rocks will tumble into the fjord below. The resulting tsunami will be constrained by the sides of the fjord and the waters will be forced to mount up the cliff sides. The wave generated will probably be about one hundred feet (fifty meters) tall. Similar things have happened before. During the early twentieth century, 174 people were killed by three separate tsunamis created by rockslides in Norway’s fjords. When the fissure finally splits, the resulting Åkernes tsunami will take ten minutes to work its way up the fjord to Geiranger – long enough to issue a warning and possibly save hundreds of lives, if the villagers can reach higher ground. This is also the perfect plot device for a great disaster movie.

The Wave opens with geologist Kristian Eikjord (Joner) flying up the fjord by helicopter to the well-staffed Åkernes crevasse monitoring station. The movie has barely started and we are already witnessing a culture that is utterly alien to most of the world. Why?

First, nearly all cultures have some concept of fate, because disasters are experienced by all mankind. Whether it is a Muslim muttering “insha’Allah” as he resigns himself to the unavoidable, or a Hindu or a Buddhist yielding himself to karma, or an African animist submitting himself to a malevolent spirit, most human cultures have evolved some concept of fate as a psychological coping mechanism to deal with living in an environment prone to disaster. Since there is no rational reason why good people perish alongside the evil ones, and since both also survive disasters, fate is inexplicable. Therefore, the wise resign themselves to it. To resist what fate has ordained is hubris.

In the more fertile parts of the world, life is cheap. A catastrophe may kill thousands, but fecundity will replace them within a generation or two. However, in the bleakest, most uninhabitable countries of the world such as Norway, life has always been too precarious to passively resign ourselves to fate. Survival has taught us that disasters can be avoided and acts of God can be defied, because those among our ancestors who didn’t learn this lesson perished before they could pass their genes on to us. To us, the Åkernes monitoring station isn’t a monument to hubris; it is an expression of what we have always tried to do.

Secondly, the world should be amazed at the lavish expense of the Åkernes monitoring station. Norway is a global anomaly. Virtually every country that has been blessed with vast oil reserves has found that blessing to be a curse to its economy and its people. Oil-rich nations like Venezuela and Nigeria ought to be among the wealthiest countries in the world, but most of that oil wealth has been stolen by the governments. Norway is the exception. Norway has consistently invested its oil wealth to benefit its citizens and has built roads and drilled tunnels through some of the most difficult landscape in the world. The Wave begins with the astonishing realisation that Norway is willing to spend millions of dollars every year to fly scientists in to watch a rock, just in case it cracks (and it might not for another two hundred years) so that a couple of hundred lives might be saved if it does. What other nation on Earth would do that?

The Wave then follows the safe path of all good disaster movies. Kristian is about to move to Stavanger with his family, and so visits the Åkernes monitoring station for one last time. As he’s leaving, he becomes worried about some changes in the rocks and water levels, but his boss and his replacement tell him not to worry and enjoy his new job. As his doubts grow, his boss continues to refuse to order the evacuation of the fjord. Tension mounts as more evidence comes in. Finally, at the very last moment, the evacuation order is given. The side of the mountain collapses and only ten minutes are left to evacuate. The special effects depicting the resulting tsunami are spectacular. The rest of the movie follows how people survived the flood and its aftermath.

The Quake takes place three years after The Wave. The opening scene shows Kristian Eikjord psychologically crippled by survivor guilt. He has separated from his wife, who now lives in Oslo, and he lives alone in Geiranger. His daughter Julia has travelled alone from Oslo to visit her father, and we watch her tiny frame walk down the ferry’s gangway to greet him. Both the films are full of mundane but astonishing little details like this, nor do these elements appear to be deliberate choices by the director or the writers. They just seem to assume it is completely ordinary for a pretty, strawberry-blonde 11-year-old girl to take a nine-hour journey all by herself. I can only guess that in Norway, it has been so safe for so long that nobody thought this scene was implausible. As a foreigner watching the movie, I was left awestruck that such a country could still exist in the twenty-first century. My country lost this luxury to cultural enrichment two or three generations ago.

Another example of this kind of mundane detail is when Kristian returns to Oslo. As part of the build-up to the next disaster, another geologist dies while inspecting the Oslofjord Tunnel. On hearing of his death, Kristian opens a letter his deceased colleague wrote to him. It contains evidence showing that Oslo is about to suffer a devastating earthquake. Kristian visits his deceased colleague’s house in Oslo to ask the family if he can look at his papers for further evidence. He knocks on the door and, having waited for an answer and received none, he turns the handle and walks in. “Hello?” he calls, and receives an answer from the daughter in the kitchen. She looks mildly puzzled and she asks who he is. Why am I pointing this out? Where else in the world could walking uninvited into a stranger’s home be considered so banal that it is irrelevant to a film’s plot? Norway must be an amazingly high-trust society if they can take safety like this for granted, because trust like this is one of the scarcest resources in the world. It is also a million times more easy to lose than it is to create. I know, because I’ve lived through its loss in my own country.

The Quake follows a slightly darker path than the previous film. This time, Kristian’s warnings are ignored and explained away by the experts. The boss of the NORSAR seismic research center in Oslo is an obvious political appointee. He doesn’t want to cause panic because it is his role to reassure the public, not warn them of imminent danger or protect them from avoidable harm. He explains away a foreshock that cracks the foundations of Oslo’s postmodernist opera house by blaming it on shoddy construction. Finally, the inevitable comes. The special effects for the earthquake, though brief, are jaw-dropping. As the final scene approaches, Kristian climbs the stairs to the thirty-fourth floor of a hotel to rescue his daughter. As he does so, he climbs over an injured woman. With scarcely a thought, he steps over her and keeps on climbing to reach Julia. You would have to be the worst sort of human being to argue that what he did was wrong. Family always comes first; a point that will become more obvious in the third film.

Both The Wave and The Quake are great disaster movies. Even someone who doesn’t normally watch subtitled movies will enjoy both. But if the writers, John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenløw-Eeg, want to apply the full Hollywood blockbuster formula, they are going to have to write a third installment. And if you’ll forgive a movie reviewer’s conceit for a moment, I want to suggest a concept: The Avalanche. There’s more than enough snow on the mountains of Norway to bury a dozen villages, but that’s not the sort of avalanche my disaster movie will show. Instead, my movie is going to be about another avoidable disaster that will engulf Norway as certainly as the Åkernes crevasse will one day fracture.

The Avalanche will start where The Wave began, except that a new Åkernes crevasse has opened up behind the old one. Twenty years will have passed, and an elderly Kristian returns to retire in Geiranger. He is greeted by a villager who is delighted to see him again, because budget cuts have never allowed a new monitoring station to be built to keep an eye on the new fissure. The next scene will be in Oslo, and we’d be reintroduced to the characters from the previous two movies. Here are some of them:

Mahmoud. You might not have noticed him in The Quake, other than he was the only person of color in either film. He was the hotel receptionist, and was played by Ravdeep Singh Bajwa. Mahmoud’s family originally came from India. His family left behind the poverty of a multi-racial, multi-caste, multi-lingual, multi-religious continent to move to Norway. The people of diversity-is-our-weakness India have inherited a multitude of strategies for coping with diversity, and since there are now over a billion of them, it has proved to be a highly effective one. Most of these revolve around total loyalty to the extended family and a deep suspicion of everyone outside their kinship group. As a result, nobody in India would willingly send their 11-year-old girl on a nine-hour journey by herself. Nobody would walk into a stranger’s house uninvited. A burglary victim in India would be blamed for leaving the door unlocked, and if a daughter was raped because she was alone in the home, the family would be blamed because she should never have been left unprotected. Life in India has always been too precarious to allow such madness. The Indian government would never employ top scientists to keep watch over a rock for the sake of saving a few hundred lives. Life has always been so precarious that it would be madness to waste so much money for the sake of so few. Because Norway has taught Mahmoud that all people are the same, regardless of culture, religion, or race, he believes Norway ought to be just like India. Since it isn’t, and since he, his family, and his ancestors have never experienced a high-trust culture, Norwegian naïveté is simply stupidity to him, and the victim is always to blame. Mahmoud will be the face of the new Norway for The Avalanche.

Marit. The daughter of the geologist who died in the Oslofjord Tunnel has married a Nigerian with extensive ties to politics in Lagos. She has gone into politics herself and built her career on rebuilding Oslo as quickly as possible after the earthquake. She accomplished this by importing as many people from India and Africa as she could. The film would show a political stunt of hers for the media: Burying Norway’s white supremacist past in the rubble of the old Oslo. In private, we’d watch her introduce her husband’s Nigerian politics-of-theft-for-personal-gain to Norway. In public, we’d see her silencing whistleblowers by accusing them of racism – and we’d see the new voters believing her.

Sondre. Kristian and Idun’s son would have spent the last ten years in jail for an innocuous thought crime. A brief montage would quickly cover his ten years in jail. At first, his cell would have all the comforts of the Norwegian rehabilitation system. These features would gradually be ripped out to make room for more and more prisoners. Most of them would be brown and black.

Mia. Sondre’s ex-girlfriend (played by the natural Nordic beauty, Hanna Skogstad) was accused of being racist, so she married Mahmoud to prove that she wasn’t. We’d see her wearing a burqa and taking care of her three average, brown children. Her pale golden hair, her blue eyes, her perfect jawline and cheekbones, and her cute nose will all be lost to these children and their descendants: this highpoint of human beauty, lost to more dominant genes that favor the color brown. We’d see her quickly ditching all her feminism in a desire to make herself fit into her new family and adapt herself to the new Norway. At the dinner table we’d see Mahmoud’s saying something kind to her in Norwegian, and then insulting her to his family in Punjabi. Later, he’d be boasting to his brother in Punjabi about how easy it is to manipulate her by pressing her guilt buttons. One scene would recreate the concept of the scene in The Quake, when Kristian stepped over the injured woman to reach his daughter, only here, we would see how Mahmoud’s family step over the injured mores of Norway to exploit the Nordic obsession with political correctness to enrich themselves.

Julia. As a grown-up, Kristian’s daughter Julie would be accused of being a white supremacist for marrying a native Norwegian. Seeking a break from the constant insults in Oslo, she would return to Geiranger. The scene from The Quake where 11-year-old Julie got off the ferry would be recreated, only this time she and her fearful husband would be trying to protect their frightened daughter from the roving hands of a group of “new Norwegians” as they get off the ferry.

Kristian. There’s a scene in The Quake where 11-year-old Julia is filmed from behind as she stares at a wall that Kristian has covered with press clippings of all the people who died in The Wave. In The Avalanche, I would exactly recreate the same scene, only this time Kristian has covered the same wall with press clippings of all the rapes and murders the “new Norwegians” are committing against the indigenous population. The film would follow his futile efforts to wake up the population about the dangers that this avalanche of immigrants is causing. At every point, he would be rejected with the accusation that he is a white supremacist. The scene in The Quake where Kristian knocked on his deceased colleague’s door would be replayed, only a brown face would peer fearfully around a heavily padlocked door. Rather than being invited in, he would have to flee from the door as the man shouts “racist” at him.

The film would end with snowflakes slowly accumulating on a mountainside. Finally, the snowbank gives way, sliding onto the new Åkernes crevasse, which splits again, triggering another tsunami in Geiranger Fjord. The film ends as we watch Kristian casting the press clippings away as he, Julia, her husband, and their child all run towards the wave rushing down the fjord. As the water engulfs them, the screen fades to black.

Eight thousand years ago, the Storegga Slide Flood annihilated Doggerland. It was irreversible. Other natural disasters are terrible, but they leave survivors, and the survivors can rebuild. After the 1904 earthquake, Oslo was rebuilt. After the 1937 rockslide tsunami, the villages of Fjørå and Tafjord were rebuilt. And so it has been throughout the millennia. After each disaster, the survivors became a little more distinctly Norwegian. The Wave and The Quake are frightening movies, but there were survivors. The Avalanche is a far more frightening movie because it illustrates an irreversible catastrophe. The immigration crisis that is afflicting Norway and every other Western nation is destroying things that are genuinely priceless, things that no amount of money or social engineering could ever buy. What price can be put on blonde hair and blue eyes? How much money would you have to give every citizen so that an 11-year-old girl could travel safely by herself? How much money would a government have to borrow to create a high-trust society where a complete stranger could walk into someone’s house?

One snowflake at a time, that’s all it takes. One SJW, one feminist, one transvestite, one Communist, one liberal, one Nigerian, one Pakistani, one Thai, one Filipino, one Ugandan, one Somali. Slowly, the snowflakes will pile up until they can’t hold their own weight. Then comes the avalanche, devastating everything before it. Irreversible. My plot for The Avalanche will never be filmed as a drama, but after the avalanche, a lone survivor will upload some video of the consequences to YouTube as a public record of the Great Replacement. Two minutes later, an algorithm will spot and delete it. The greatest disaster movie ever filmed will only have one viewer – and he won’t even be able to watch it to the end.

If that sounds too black-pilled for you, remember this: The purpose of disaster movies is to learn from them so that we can avoid disasters in the first place.