The Wave (15)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Sep 16 2008Although based on a real-life incident at a California high school in 1967, this story of a classroom experiment assessing the ongoing appeal of fascist ideology gains an extra frisson from being relocated to today’s Germany. When hip teacher Herr Wenger tackles a project on ‘autocracy’ by getting his teenage students to play act in a mini-dictatorship, there’s scepticism at first (‘So the Nazis were bad, we get it,’ chirps one perceptive soul). Yet after Sir breaks up the seating pattern, tightens discipline and insists on an all-white uniform, the kids are rather surprised that a new-found group spirit has expunged previous social divisions. Having given their merry band a new name and a members-only hand signal, after only a few days there’s no telling how far
‘The Wave’ might go…
All this is such an arresting idea for a movie, it’s a bit of a shame it’s not terribly believable. Lacking the no-exit claustrophobia of, say, ‘Das Experiment’ (based on the Stanford Prison Experiment), it struggles to shape the out-of-control logic required to sell us on the insidious allure of unquestioning loyalty and obedience. Peopled with recognisable teen-movie types (predictably, the geeky outsider is the most worryingly enthusiastic participant), it’s a more superficial affair than the heavyweight subject matter might suggest, though Jurgen Vogel’s shaded performance as the grandstanding teacher who realises only too late the beast he’s unleashed certainly stands out. Still, the quicksilver editing and thumping score mean it’s zippily put together, and an undeniable willingness to engage with a youthful audience is admirably inclusive.
Author: Trevor Johnston