40 user 2 critic

The Wave (1981)

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 by), Ron Jones (based on a short story by)
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Bruce Davison ... Ben Ross
Lori Lethin ... Lauree
John Putch 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 ... 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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Jamie Rose's debut. See more »


Robert: Laurie Saunders is a threat. She must be stopped.
Student: Don't worry. David and I will take care of it.
See more »


Remade as The Wave (2008) See more »

User Reviews

I produced The Wave after being told the story by the real teacher.
16 September 2003 | by RamaurasSee all my reviews

The Wave was the first movie I ever made. I pitched the project to ABC and plunged forward. As an After School Special it was done on a very low budget, roughly $250,000 when an average Prime Time hour in those days was done for roughly $1,000,000. All acting and writing was done for scale fees and the number of shooting days were very few to hold down costs, As I remember it shot in 8 days. When ABC saw the final show they took it out of the After School slot and aired it in prime time against 60 Minutes on Sunday night. Needless to say the ratings were very low, but even at that, back in those days about 17 million people saw it in the States. And since then millions more have seen it around the world. I'm proud of the show and the message it delivers. As the years have gone by production styles and social behaviors have shifted, that's just the way it is. So be it, the show still seems to have legs. :>>

103 of 111 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 40 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






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 »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed