The Wave (15)

Film

Drama

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Sep 16 2008

Although 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.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Sep 19, 2008

Duration:

107 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Dennis Gansel

Screenwriter:

Dennis Gansel

Cast:

Jürgen Vogel, Frederick Lau, Jennifer Ulrich, Christiane Paul

Cinematography:

Torsten Breuer

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

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Paul Scales

It is often forgotten that the pre WW2 fascist movements drew their support from young people. The British ambassador to Nazi Germany, Sir Nevile Henderson, drew attention to this in his book "Failure of a Mission". This film shows how the desire to be part of a group, which is particularly evident among young people, can be turned into something sinister. It also shows how fascism could have appeared attractive, something which cannot be easily demonstrated through history lessons and exposure to 1930s newsreel clips.

Paul Scales

It is often forgotten that the pre WW2 fascist movements drew their support from young people. The British ambassador to Nazi Germany, Sir Nevile Henderson, drew attention to this in his book "Failure of a Mission". This film shows how the desire to be part of a group, which is particularly evident among young people, can be turned into something sinister. It also shows how fascism could have appeared attractive, something which cannot be easily demonstrated through history lessons and exposure to 1930s newsreel clips.

L. Stone

This film, predominantly a psychological thriller, demonstrates the startling possibility that the youth of today are just as susceptible to fascist movements as in the 1930s. Although some might note that the hidden meanings can be slightly heavy-handed - for example, when Herr Wenger, in the last moments of the film, stares at the camera in horror at what he has unleashed, as if to state that the general public are capable of such actions - its intentions are excellent, and the plot nonetheless engrossing. This film is to be recommended to all. At the very least, it is an excellent example of just how attractive the Nazi movement would have been at the time. At its best, however, this film is both a thrilling and terrifying insight into human nature.

S. Whitaker

The spectacle of how a group can become aroused and inflamed under the control of an authority figure, of their collective frenzy and destructiveness, needs to be demonstrated like this, in a way that is plausible and even infectious. Given the background of these adolescents, sufficiently close to those viewers who will rely on the subtitles for help, yet distant enough to make the action entirely plausible, the film should provide the salutary shock and warning that many irrationally passionate groups need for a safeguard against damaging, and even (as here) tragic consequences. The lesson is particularly forceful, coming from Germany, Could the teacher, who wanted to teach the opposite of the "autocracy project" that was imposed on him, have hoped for a more effective lesson than the one it turned out to be? All, even the authoritarian headmistress, were properly aghast at the outcome, and enlightened.

Paul Norris

I saw The Wave last night and while I completely applaud its motives, its heavy-handedness negates much of what was good about it. The film offers an Animal Farm-style allegory and it's clear what's going to happen to almost every character from the outset, right down to the last scene. An important point it missed was its failure to show the way in which fascists have used identifiable minorities to vilify as a means of uniting a disparate group (Nazis and the Jews/gypsies etc) - far more relevant today with the media's attitudes towards Moslems, Poles, asylum seekers et al. I don't think that old-wave fascism is a very likely prospect in the West but I do think that turning us against oppressed minorities is and I wish the film had addressed it. In spite of all that, a perfectly good film that makes many very good points and whose intentions are totally honourable. Worth seeing.