The Wave (2015 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Wave
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoar Uthaug
Written by
  • John Kåre Raake
  • Harald Rosenløw-Eeg
Produced byAre Heidenstorm
CinematographyJohn Christian Rosenlund
Edited byChristian Siebenherz
Music byMagnus Beite
Distributed byNordisk Filmdistribusjon
Magnolia Pictures
Release date
  • 28 August 2015 (2015-08-28)
Running time
105 minutes[1]
Budget$6 million[2][3]
Box office$12.8 million[4]

The Wave (Norwegian: Bølgen) is a 2015 Norwegian disaster film[5] directed by Roar Uthaug. It was Norway's official submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards but failed to be nominated.[6][7][8] The movie depicts the Åkerneset crevice collapsing in Møre og Romsdal, creating an avalanche resulting in an 80-metre (260 ft) tall tsunami that destroys everything in its path. A sequel titled The Quake (Norwegian: Skjelvet), directed by John Andreas Andersen, was released on 31 August 2018.[9] The third installment The Burning Sea was released 25 February 2022.[10]


Geologist Kristian Eikjord is working his final day in the Norwegian tourist destination Geiranger before moving to Stavanger with his family, when sensors on the mountain indicate groundwater has disappeared at Åkerneset. Later, waiting for the ferry with his children while his wife Idun works a few more days at the town hotel, Kristian has an epiphany and rushes back to the geology center, leaving his children Sondre and Julia in the car. He and his former coworker Jacob investigate the crevice and find that the sensor wires have snapped due to the movements inside the mountain. Kristian's former boss Arvid agrees to enter a higher state of alert, but not to sound the evacuation alarm due to being mid tourist season.

Kristian returns to the car several hours later, but finds that the children have gone to the hotel. Julia wants to say goodbye to their house, so Kristian drives with her to stay there one last night. Sondre books a room at the hotel, but then heads down to the basement with his headphones and skateboard.

Arvid and Jacob check instrument readings and find them as accurate, and not a malfunction. Kristian reviews old documents of the Vajont and Randa avalanches that suggests the readings of contractions in the mountain do in fact indicate an upcoming avalanche. He calls the station and orders the immediate evacuation of Arvid and Jacob from the crevice, and to sound the tsunami alarms for the residents of Geiranger. Arvid and Jacob starts moving, but moments later the avalanche happens. Arvid sacrifices himself when Jacob's foot becomes trapped, linking Jacob to their zip-line and falling to his death shortly after. The alarm is sounded shortly before the rockslide crashes into the fjord, creating a gigantic tsunami 80 metres (260 ft) high, roaring towards Geiranger.

With ten minutes until the tsunami hits Geiranger, Idun and her colleague Vibeke evacuate the hotel guests onto a bus, but Sondre is nowhere to be found. Idun refuses to leave without her son, and the danish tourists Maria and Philip Poulsen help her search. Kristian and Julia, stuck in traffic, realize their altitude is dangerously low. They abandon their car to run uphill on foot, shouting for others to do the same. Their neighbor Anna has her leg trapped by a car. Kristian sends Julia up the mountain with Anna's husband Thomas and daughter Teresa. Anna is unable to move her leg, so she starts limping up the road with Kristians help. The tsunami quickly approaches, and Kristian realizes that they are not going to make it. He seats himself and Anna in a van before the tsunami engulfs the vehicle. Idun finds Sondre in the basement. They return to the hotel lobby, but seeing that the bus is gone and the tsunami has just reached Geiranger, they rush back downstairs to the basement's bomb shelter as they are chased by water. Maria is washed away, but the others make it. Idun and Sondre forcefully close the shelter door while a depressed Philip walks away from it.

Kristian survives but finds Anna next to him dead, impaled by debris. He walks up to Ørnevingen and finds Julia alive. He leaves her with Thomas and Teresa while he heads back to Geiranger in order to find his wife and son. In the now devastated town, Kristian quickly finds the destroyed evacuation bus full of dead passengers, including Vibeke but not Idun and Sondre. Kristian starts moving towards the hotel. Down in the bomb shelter, the water level rises, deforming the door which is blocked by heavy debris. They are also unable to open the door and swim out, as debris out in the corridor is blocking it. Philip has nothing to hold on to, and pushes Sondre underwater while panicking to breathe. To Sondre's horror, Idun drowns Philip to save her son.

Kristian finds Sondre's backpack and concludes that his wife and son are dead. In his grief, he furiously bangs on some pipes. Idun and Sondre are able to hear, and respond in kind. As Kristian finds them and dives, further water floods the refuge. Removing the debris, he reunites with Idun but runs out of air as he returns with Sondre. Idun heads back in a desperate attempt to revive him, drags him thru the water up to the surface, attempts rescue breathing, then CPR. She finally accepts that Kristian has drowned and stops trying. Sondre however gives one last effort, which pays off.

The entire family is reunited at Ørnesvingen, and with a pan-away camera shot, we see that Geiranger has been leveled to the ground. The film closes saying the events are likely to occur in the future, but the date is unpredictable.


  • Kristoffer Joner as Kristian Eikjord, a 40-year-old experienced geologist[2]
  • Ane Dahl Torp as Idun Karlsen, Kristian's wife
  • Jonas Hoff Oftebro as Sondre, Kristian's son
  • Edith Haagenrud-Sande as Julia, Kristian's daughter
  • Thomas Bo Larsen as Phillip Poulsen, a Danish tourist
  • Mette Horn as Maria Poulsen, Phillip's wife
  • Fridtjov Såheim as Arvid Øvrebø, Kristian's former boss
  • Herman Bernhoft as Georg
  • Arthur Berning as Jacob Vikra
  • Silje Breivik as Anna, one of Eikjord's neighbours
  • Laila Goody as Margot Valldal, Arvid's assistant
  • Eili Harboe as Vibeke, Idun's hotel colleague



Filming took place in Geiranger, a small tourist town just below Åkerneset.[11]

Norway is a rockslide prone area (created by the Caledonian orogeny) and The Wave is based on a rock-slide tsunami incident which destroyed the village of Tafjord on 7 April 1934, killing 40 people.[2] Prior to that, a similar incident in 1905 triggered a tsunami killing 60 people, and 31 years later, another 74 lost their lives.[12] Uthaug has always been a fan of Hollywood disaster films such as Twister and Armageddon and had long wanted to make a disaster film in Norway.[2] According to him the challenge was to combine the elements of the American genre film with the reality of the situation in Norway.[2]

All the actors performed their own stunts, something the director said was "utterly nerve-racking." And for a climactic scene, in which Joner tries to rescue his family from a flooded hotel, he trained with free-diving instructors to be able to hold his breath for three minutes underwater.[2]


The Wave had its international premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on 16 September 2015.[13]

Box office[edit]

The film sold around 800,000 tickets in Norway,[2] and grossed a total of US$8.2 million at the Norwegian box office becoming the highest-grossing film of 2015 in Norway.[14]

Awards and accolades[edit]

At the 2016 Amanda Awards, The Wave received the award for Best Norwegian Film in Theatrical Release, as well as the awards for Best Sound Design and Best Visual Effects.[15] In addition, the film was also nominated in the categories of Best Norwegian Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Music.[16]

At the Kanon Awards for 2016, The Wave won for Best Male Actor in a Leading Role (Kristoffer Joner), Best Producer, Best Editing, and Best Production Design (Lina Nordqvist).[17]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise aimed at the performances of the cast (mostly the two protagonists), cinematography, score and visual effects.[18][11] Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "an exotic edge-of-seater [that] plays on the beauty and terror of nature" and "a thrilling ride",[3] while chief international film critic Peter Debruge of Variety described it as "an equally impressive tsunami-peril thriller."[18]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 83% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 108 reviews, with an average rating of 6.64/10. The site's critics consensus states: "Well-acted and blessed with a refreshingly humanistic focus, The Wave is a disaster film that makes uncommonly smart use of disaster film clichés."[19] Metacritic reports a weighted average score of 68 out of 100 based on 26 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[20]

The special effects were lauded by critics, receiving favorable comparison with those of Hollywood.[18] Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter called them "convincingly terrifying and involving."[3] Collider reviewed, "...a major technical achievement that will hopefully make Hollywood reconsider the tendency to go bigger and bigger to the point of excess."[11]

The English-language audio dub, however, was panned by critics. Kelli Marchman of wrote "the voice-over was horrid. The timing was off, and the character's voices were emotionless. It sounded like the lines were being read off of a script by a robot, with no concern of how the characters came across" before recommending the movie only in its original Norwegian.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Wave (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 15 April 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Scott Roxborough (3 December 2015). "Foreign-Language Oscar Spotlight: Norway's Disaster Epic 'The Wave'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Deborah Young (12 September 2015). "'The Wave': TIFF Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  4. ^ "The Wave (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Her kommer monsterbølgen inn mot Geiranger". Dagbladet. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  6. ^ ""Bølgen" er Norges Oscar-kandidat". NRK. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  7. ^ "Norway pins Oscar hopes on 'The Wave'". News in English. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  8. ^ Roxborough, Scott (3 September 2015). "Oscars: Norway Picks 'The Wave' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  9. ^ "The Quake". IMDb Pro. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  10. ^ Gleiberman, Owen. "'The Burning Sea' Review: A Sequel to 'The Wave' and 'The Quake,' This Norwegian Disaster Movie Is Competent in an Overly Familiar Way". Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 2 December 2022.
  11. ^ a b c Perri Nemiroff (17 September 2015). "'The Wave' Review: Puts Hollywood Disaster Movies to Shame". Collider. (Complex). Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  12. ^ David Nikel (2 September 2015). "The Wave: Norway's First Disaster Movie". Life in Norway. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  13. ^ Nancy Tartaglione (16 September 2015). "Magnolia Rides 'The Wave'; Acquires U.S. On Norway's Smash Disaster Pic – Toronto". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  14. ^ Scott Roxborough (22 December 2015). "International Box Office: The Big Local-Language Hits of 2015". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Here Are the 2016 Amanda Winners" (Press release). The Norwegian International Film Festival Haugesund. August 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  16. ^ "The Nominees for Norway's Amanda Awards 2016". Cinema Scandinavia. June 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  17. ^ "The Wave (Bølgen)". Norwegian Film Institute. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  18. ^ a b c Peter Debruge (25 September 2015). "Film Review: 'The Wave'". Variety. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  19. ^ "The Wave (Bolgen) (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  20. ^ "The Wave Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  21. ^ Marchman, Kelli (July 2016). "A Review Of The Wave". Horror Fuel.

External links[edit]