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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.
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
Ron Jones, the initiator of the original experiment, attended the film's world premiere at Sundance Film Festival. 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 »
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 »
Entertaining fictional experiment in classroom dictatorship
How does anyone really portray autocracy and/or fascism? In most ways, it can be done in the usual one-dimensional concoction of corruption, evil deeds, extreme delusion and paranoia amongst the ruling elites of the regimes. The Wave ("Die Welle") though looks at the issue from a different angle, examining how it can arise and entrance those it touches, and in the process makes the whole issue look fresh again.
The basic story is that of a school teacher (an anarchist at heart) who has to teach a class about "Autocracy". Failing to get their attention, he decides to create an experiment whereby they are to create their own mini autocracy and rules amongst themselves (named "The Wave"). With such a controversial subject, the whole thing gets out of hand with the pupils succumbing to the autocratic fascist methodology with grave consequences.
One important point that needs to be added is that its a German movie, and for historical reasons the topic is a delicate one, yet seems to add to the whole feel. The film is quite realistically disturbing in many ways, and shows how most of the pupils slowly fall for fascism in quite innocent ways. It will make you think and possibly reassess the important question, as asked in the film, if Autocracy can rear its head again.
The writing, the acting and direction are excellent. Jürgen Vogel as the class teacher is both entertaining and thoughtful in his role, but the cast in general is exceptional especially as in the main they are mostly teenagers.
If you like thoughtful films, and wish to see something that is questioning historical events in the present, then there is little to better this. Deserves to be watched. Its a film that will definitely be spoken about and re watched by many repeatedly for many years to come.
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