For two weeks, 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards in a prison. The "prisoners" have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the "guards" are told to retain order without using physical violence.
Through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a German concentration camp, a forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.
High school teacher, Rainer Wenger, 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
Based on the novel "The Wave" by Todd Strasser (under the pen name Morton Rhue), a fictionalized account of the "Third Wave" teaching experiment by Ron Jones that took place in a Cubberley High School history class in Palo Alto, California in April 1967. See more »
The way the word "Autokratie" is written on the black board changes between shots. See more »
Rainer I don't think you have this under control anymore, not at all.
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Opening and closing credits appear as graffiti. See more »
Die Welle details how a project on autocracy gradually leads to disastrous results. Initially without enthusiasm to teach the topic, Rainer Wegner conducts an unorthodox experiment to demonstrate to his students (equally lukewarm to start with) what life would be like under fascism. Neatly structured by days, the experiment begins with simple disciplines and grows to become an exclusive cult named "the wave" with its own uniform and salute.
Similar to his 2004 film "Before the Fall" which concerns the Nazi's seduction of youth, Dennis Gansel probes the individual psychologies that bring about uncontrollable collective movement, and how personal life is transformed by it. It offers a balanced view on an organisation like "The Wave" by enquiring whether it is a crystallisation of the students' class-free utopia (at the cost of losing individuality) or a community for those in need of belonging and empowerment.
What is frightening is that many (though not all) of them voluntarily follow the conformity through reasoning. Ironically, the mob mentality engulfing the students is what they condemn formerly; even the "anarchist" Rainer finds himself intoxicated with his increasingly idolised status.
An engaging and powerful film with a sense of humour, suspension (terror arises when the light goes off during Karo's anti-Wave poster distribution), twist (Rainer's concluding speech), believable characterisation and excellent acting (Jürgen Vogel, Max Riemelt, and Frederick Lau). Inspired by a true event in California , this intelligent film merits attention particularly because of its non-preaching and humanistic treatment of a heavy subject.
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