An experiment in an American High School where students learn how easy it is to be seduced by the same social forces which led to the horrors of Nazi Germany. Based on a true story.


(as Alex Grasshoff)


(teleplay), (short story)
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Johnny Doran ...
Pasha Gray ...
Wesley Pfenning ...
Christy Ross (as Wesley Ann Pfenning)
Marc Copage ...
Robert DeLapp
Matthew Dunn
Frank Lloyd
Danny Marmolejo
Teri Ralston ...
Larry Keith ...


To explain to his students the atmosphere in the 1930's Nazi-Germany, history teacher Burt Ross initiates a daring experiment. He declares himself leader of a new movement, called 'The Wave'. Inspired, he proclaims ideas about Power, Discipline and Superiority. His students are strikingly willing to follow him. Soon the entire school is under the spell of 'The Wave'. Anyone who refuses to be a part of the Movement, faces threats or worse. Ross himself gets carried away by his own experiment. Or has it turned into something more than an experiment? A climax is unavoidable, resulting in a hard lesson for both Ross and his students... Written by Diederik B.A. Rep

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Drama





Release Date:

4 October 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Onda  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Originally produced as an ABC Afterschool Special, the network chose to instead debut this film in prime time as part of its 'ABC Theater for Young Americans' series. See more »


Ben Ross: What you just saw took place in Germany between 1934 and 1945. The situation grew out of the aftermath of World War I; Germany had been defeated, leadership was at a low end, inflation was high, and thousands were homeless, hungry, jobless, and Hitler took advantage of the situation to establish himself and his Third Reich. You all know the rest, the camps, the killings, what resulted was the most efficient death machine ever devised.
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Edited into ABC Afterschool Specials: The Wave (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

The Best Movie EVER!!!
26 May 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

OMG I LOVED THIS MOVIE! Okay, now that I've got that out of my system I just want to say that I keep on doing The Wave "fist punch to the chest then in the air making a "wave" with the hand" thing. Even to people I don't know. I don't follow "The Wave" group, I do this in a satirical manner. And the Ending, wow. I won't give it away or anything but it was SO great. Geez, I loved this movie. We watched it in German class, even though its in English. I liked this a million times better than "Findet Nemo." WATCH THE WAVE! YOU'LL LOVE IT!

Brief Summary: A teacher is teaching his students about Hitler and the Nazis when a student asks how the German people let millions of innocent people die without doing anything. The teacher (Mr. Ross) is stumped and is "saved by the bell" but must deal with her in class the next day. He starts a group called "The Wave" in class whose motto is "Strength through Discipline." The motto grows to become "Strength through discipline. Strength through community. Strength through action." The girl who posed the original question about the Germans starts to oppose the Wave and write articles for the newspaper bashing The Wave. Her boyfriend confronts her about her behavior because he supports The Wave and gets in a physical argument with her. He realizes what The Wave is doing to them, and starts to oppose it with her. They confront their teacher about this, who had just been in a meeting with the principal. I won't give away the ending but it pwnz!

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