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The Wave (2008)
"Die Welle" (original title)

 -  Drama | Thriller  -  27 May 2011 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 62,304 users  
Reviews: 87 user | 90 critic

A high school teacher's unusual 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.

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(short story and original protocols), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Rainer Wenger
...
Tim Stoltefuss
...
Marco
...
Karo
Christiane Paul ...
Anke Wenger
Jacob Matschenz ...
Dennis
Cristina do Rego ...
Lisa
...
Sinan
Maximilian Vollmar ...
Bomber
Max Mauff ...
Kevin (as Maximilian Mauff)
Ferdinand Schmidt-Modrow ...
Ferdi
Tim Oliver Schultz ...
Jens
Amelie Kiefer ...
Mona
Fabian Preger ...
Kaschi
Odine Johne ...
Maja
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

IT WILL THRILL YOU. IT WILL CARRY YOU AWAY. IT WILL CHANGE YOU. IT WILL BREAK YOU See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 May 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Wave  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

€5,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ron Jones, the initiator of the original experiment, attended the film's world premiere at Sundance Film Festival. See more »

Goofs

Although set somewhere in western Germany, all policemen wear insignia of the state of Berlin. See more »

Quotes

Karo: Rainer I don't think you have this under control anymore, not at all.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening and closing credits appear as graffiti. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Crocodiles (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Garden Of Growing Hearts
Music by Empty Trash
Lyrics by Max Buskohl
Performed by Empty Trash
©Empty Trash
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Straight forward filming will captivate audiences, along with a pleasing cast.
26 July 2008 | by (Auckland, New Zealand) – See all my reviews

"Die Welle" is an above average classroom drama with a political voice. Helmed by director Dennis Gansel, film is unforgiving in depicting the youth as a generation without anything to rebel about but loneliness, making them sensitive to any sort of illusion of belonging. Mostly a riveting affair, film lags in its second act as it jumps into Dawson's Creek. Film goes ashore into a memorable finale. Straight forward filming will captivate audiences, along with a pleasing cast.

Project week in a suburban high school entails them to study various forms of government and restriction. Rainer Wenger (Jürgen Vogel), an under-appreciated teacher finds a way in engaging his students. He cleverly manipulates his class to slap them out of apathy and disinterest with tiny minute changes which eventually builds up to a boil. Classroom scenes are stimulating as debates between the students are daring and engrossing – writing mention controversial topics that are usually not spoken with lethargy. Film focuses on a group of smart people, highlighting further that what's bound to happen is even more tragic and rings a bell to what can happen out of celluloid..

Inspired by a 1960's social experiment in California documenting how easy it is to influence individuals, film looses track in its middle section as it begins to refocus on the individual lives of the students. Most characters seem to be run in the mill with general high school romance trouble, which would have been interesting but brings nothing new to the table. Stories work better as a collective rather than individuals, which further add to the intended effect. Some personalities shine though: students who never had any sense of belonging are indeed looked at with much heartbreak here as this false sense of security is embraced by them, motivating them to go a step further in preserving the society.

Finale is spellbinding as even if it diverts a lot from the actual experiment, it still proves as a necessity to further establish a point. Film parallels to the effect of Third Reich within its members and climax reminds audiences of the Bruno Ganz header "Der Untergang", as it clearly parallels the extent of loyalties that may arise in such occasions. From the get go, death of a character is imminent and even with its shock value, it justifies itself as beyond a plot device.

As an ensemble, the acting here is impermeable as they all deliver solid performances. Vogel especially convey solid work as the teacher. He brings gravity and his semi-bald haircut proves ominous. It's a shame that audiences lose connection to him midway though as he suddenly becomes the background to the melodrama.

German setting of the movie elevates the film's status. It creates this palpable undercurrent, that even with a country that already identifies itself as guilty; it still cannot escape the possibility of anarchy. Even if the picture becomes stern with its themes, it still is digestible to the mainstream. Word of mouth can secure a life outside the tills.


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