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


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?


Based on the real experience of a high school class in Palo Alto, California in April 1969. See more »


Laurie: Amy, read this article I wrote.
[hands Amy a paper]
Amy: [reads it] What're you going to do with it?
Laurie: I'm submitting it to the school paper.
Amy: You can't say these things about the Wave.
Laurie: Well why not? They're true. Amy, the Wave has become an obsession with everyone. No one's thinking for themselves anymore.
Amy: Come on, you're just upset, you're letting your argument with David get to you.
Laurie: But the Wave is hurting people. Everyone's going along with it like a flock of sheep.
Amy: Laurie, please don't submit this.
Laurie: ...
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Remade as The Wave (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting Short
30 January 2003 | by (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

I just watched this in my Social Psychology class and I was impressed even though the film is a bit melo-dramatic. Great if you want to see how easy it is to influence young people, those without friends and to see how easy it was for German's to grow under the influence of Nazi Germany.

This kind of thing can happen at any time, and the movie shows just how easy it is.

Doing a study for psychology, then this is a good film to watch

18 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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