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The Wave (2008)

Die Welle (original title)
A high school teacher's experiment to demonstrate to his students what life is like under a dictatorship spins horribly out of control when he forms a social unit with a life of its own.



(short story and original protocols) (as William Ron Jones), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
3,949 ( 222)

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8 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rainer Wenger
Tim Stoltefuss
Christiane Paul ...
Anke Wenger
Jacob Matschenz ...
Cristina do Rego ...
Maximilian Vollmar ...
Kevin (as Maximilian Mauff)
Ferdinand Schmidt-Modrow ...
Tim Oliver Schultz ...
Amelie Kiefer ...
Fabian Preger ...
Odine Johne ...


High school teacher, Rainer Wegner, may be popular with the students, but he's also unorthodox. He's forced to teach autocracy for the school's project week. He's less than enthusiastic at first, but the response of the students is surprising to say the least. He forces the students to become more invested in the prospect of self rule, and soon the class project has its own power and eerily starts to resemble Germany's past. Can Wegner and his class realize what's happening before the horrors start repeating themselves? Written by napierslogs

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Evil is something that you learn [Sweden] See more »


Drama | Thriller


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Release Date:

27 May 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Wave  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


€5,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director Cameo: [Dennis Gansel] The guy Dennis (Jacob Matschenz) talks to at the bar, who is later seen making out with Marco's mother. See more »


(at around 15 mins) The teacher is formally called Rainer Wenger, although informally he uses his first name is Rainer, among his students initially and later his surname during the project, Wenger. One might think the principal would use his first name when talking to him, but in Germany when adult colleagues speak to each other, they use their last name when talking to each other, i.e. Herr Wenger. See more »


Dennis: What our generation lacks is a common goal that hold us together.
Hängengebliebener: That's what it is like today. Look around you. You know what the most goggled thing is? Paris fucking Hilton!
Dennis: [laughing] Oh, shit
Hängengebliebener: It is true!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening and closing credits appear as graffiti. See more »


Referenced in Kill La Kill: If Only I Had Thorns Like a Thistle (2013) See more »


Was dich so verändert hat
Written by Jan Plewka
Performed by Jan Plewka
Produced by Manfred Faust
©Constantin Music Verlag / Rat Pack
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User Reviews

Fascism is Only A Few Missteps Away
19 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An amiable German social sciences teacher has to teach his children about an autocratic government. The children at first seem bored, not wanting to hear any more about The Third Reich and Nazism. The teacher is surprised. "We're too knowledgeable to ever fall into something like that again," say the students. The teacher then decides to show the children what it's like to live in an autocracy, and sets up a simple experiment in class. They elect a leader (him) and he begins to instill in them (merely as an example) the virtues and practices that accompany an autocracy ("Strength through discipline", "Work as one"). The students take to it, and become obsessed with it. Soon, what was a simple classroom experiment grows to a social entity all it's own, with the teacher not sure if he can reverse the effects.

The film was very well acted and written, and was seriously creepy. It showed how - easily a society could fall into fascism, if presented to the society in the correct way. Watching the film, I understood why the students enjoyed the new system, but was also privy to the horrors that come with it. A shocking and powerful film. The way the different children reacted and how such a seemingly innocent experiment profoundly affected their lives was incredible and horrifying. Vogel gives a powerful performance as an idealistic teacher who isn't aware of the influence he has on others. Worth seeing.

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Why was 'the wave' so bad? donquigleone
Closeup of Mr. Wenger's face at the movie's finale Friedrich von Glower
Improbability of the ending Stormhierta
12 december 1979 karl_lanc
Where is this showing in the UK? Hades88
What was the wave about? quendino
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