Movie Review: The Wave / Die Welle

The Wave is actually “Die Welle,” a German movie with English subtitles. It depicts German teenage life at high school age today, some 65 years after the fall of Hitler.

During a classroom discussion about totalitarianism with their history teacher, the students assert that there is no way another dictatorship could arise in Germany now, based on the country’s history, the Zeitgeist and the collective and current level of education on the subject within the last several generations.

The teacher then launches into an experiment with the class. For one week, they are going to form a “play dictatorship” where the teacher is the dictator and the class are the population. Within just a few days, the students start enjoying the new sense of belonging, the open sharing, and the added discipline in their lives. Then, by the third day, patterns of ostracizing outsiders start to develop. The movement becomes violent and destructive quickly and by the end of the week, things are out of control.

The Wave is a study of society that tries to analyze just how it was possible for a handful of thugs in Germany in 1933 to take over a country and cause it to commit unspeakable atrocities and crimes against mankind.

Due to the dialog being entirely in German, and rapid-fire colloquial German to boot, the subtitles often can’t keep up properly with the action. Of course, the viewer not familiar with the language will not notice this but I assume must be missing much of the depth of the story. This is definitely a movie heavily based on dialog and subtleties of language and expression.

Overall, I strongly recommend watching this. There is much to learn here.

Rating: ***

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Wave / Die Welle

  1. vee1987

    Have you read the book? It was an option for the required reading in my high school, it probably still is but im not sure, this was ten years ago. It was based off an actual teachers experiment (wikipedia cheat: Ron Jones, Palo Alto, 1967). Im not entirely sure how the real thing went, but in the book The Wave quickly engulfed the whole school and lasted for what seemed like months. The teacher even started to buy into the experiment. It’s a quick read, again wikipedia cheat, by Todd Strasser, but used the name Morton Rhue

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