Force Majeure is a small, arthouse movie that tells the story of a Swedish family on a ski vacation in the Swiss Alps. On the second day of their trip, a controlled avalanche seems to go out of control, and the protagonist, Tomas, runs away, without attempting to protect his wife or children. Everyone is fine, but the selfish act sets off the story, a family drama about masculinity, infidelity, and cowardice.
It’s an excellent, sharp movie (that was very foolishly snubbed by the Oscars). And it’s not exactly obvious meme material. But the internet will always find a way, so now the avalanche scene has gone viral. It’s a perfect distillation of that feeling of ignoring a disaster until it’s too late to change anything.
Director Ruben Östlund, best-known in the States for his art-world satire The Square, starring Elisabeth Moss, told GQ that he’s often inspired by the internet, particularly YouTube. “Feature filmmaking is so focused on the storytelling, but the moving image has a fantastic ability to capture human behavior,” he said. “You don’t focus on the storytelling, you’re just focusing on a moment or a situation. On the characters, and what they’re doing. So we have to look at them more like we look at animals. I think that the most powerful moving images that I have seen in the last 15 years have been on YouTube.”
The man was born to inspire memes. And the avalanche is rather striking. So here are some of our favorites.