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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.


Alexander Grasshoff (as Alex Grasshoff)


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


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Cast overview:
Bruce Davison ... Ben Ross
Lori Lethin ... Lauree
John Putch ... David
Johnny Doran Johnny Doran ... Robert
Pasha Gray Pasha Gray ... Amy
Wesley Pfenning Wesley Pfenning ... Christy Ross (as Wesley Ann Pfenning)
Marc Copage Marc Copage ... Eric
Robert DeLapp Robert DeLapp
Matthew Dunn Matthew Dunn
Frank Lloyd Frank Lloyd
Danny Marmolejo Danny Marmolejo
Michael Pasternak ... Peter
Teri Ralston Teri Ralston ... Mrs. Saunders
Jamie Rose ... Andrea
Larry Keith 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

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TV-G | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 October 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Wave See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Based on the real experience of a high school class in Palo Alto, California in April 1967. 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

Horrifying! Educational, but horrifying!
28 August 2002 | by jccw27See all my reviews

I normally try to avoid TV movies. I certainly would not have watched this one if it wasn't for the fact that it was for a class and that I'm probably going to be tested on it in a couple of weeks. I've just gotten back from my Social Problems class, the professor had us watch this movie. As soon as it was over I had to come back here and comment on it. The movie may have been at B-level but the impact was pretty solid. It was rather shocking how quickly the students in that class conformed over to the Wave and how they began acting like the people of Germany when Hitler was in power, but probably what shocked me the most was at the end when they said that it was based on a true story! I have to admit I did learn from this movie. I learned how easily history can repeat itself, how not to just follow anybody, and to be an individual and not just go along with everybody else.

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