- Fascism is Only A Few Missteps Away 1/19/2008 12:00:00 AM by sampotter25
An amiable German social sciences teacher has to teach his children about an autocratic government. The children at first seem bored, not wanting to hear any more about The Third Reich and Nazism. The teacher is surprised. "We're too knowledgeable to ever fall into something like that again," say the students. The teacher then decides to show the children what it's like to live in an autocracy, and sets up a simple experiment in class. They elect a leader (him) and he begins to instill in them (merely as an example) the virtues and practices that accompany an autocracy ("Strength through discipline", "Work as one"). The students take to it, and become obsessed with it. Soon, what was a simple classroom experiment grows to a social entity all it's own, with the teacher not sure if he can reverse the effects.
The film was very well acted and written, and was seriously creepy. It showed how - easily a society could fall into fascism, if presented to the society in the correct way. Watching the film, I understood why the students enjoyed the new system, but was also privy to the horrors that come with it. A shocking and powerful film. The way the different children reacted and how such a seemingly innocent experiment profoundly affected their lives was incredible and horrifying. Vogel gives a powerful performance as an idealistic teacher who isn't aware of the influence he has on others. Worth seeing.
- Fascism is still possible and alive 9/29/2008 12:00:00 AM by pei_yin_lin
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.
- A wonderful and moving film that had me gripped throughout. Absolutely brilliant. 9/19/2008 12:00:00 AM by geoffgee
This is a wonderful film with a superb screenplay and direction and great acting from its mainly young cast. I felt myself being drawn into the film in the same way as Mr Wenger's students were being drawn into his 'experiment'. The drama unfolds relatively slowly at first, but with gathering momentum and consequences. There is also a very moving portrayal of some of the tensions produced within some of the romantic pairings as well as the extreme anguish caused in one student by his heightened susceptibility. I think the depth to which personal relationships and social groupings are explored make this into much more of a fascinating drama than an exercise in the condemning of fascism. Please don't be put off by the subtitles. I can't recommend this film too highly.
- A Clever, Ironic Account of Fascist Autocracy 2/25/2008 12:00:00 AM by sesmallz
Die Welle (The Wave) is truly a brilliant tale that lures viewers into its cleverly developed plot just as Herr Wenger lures his unsuspecting students into a sense of fascism. When Wenger, an affable schoolteacher who seems to be rebellious towards traditional instruction, gets selected to teach a class on autocracy, he is upset. However, he soon devises a plan with which to teach the students a valuable lesson on the sheer dangers of fascism and the ease with which one can be lured into it.
His class starts out simple and nonthreatening. The students choose Wenger as their leader and are instructed to wear a uniform and create a name for themselves (the students choose Die Welle "The Wave"). But, this club slowly turns into a sort of fascist regime. The unsuspecting students think they are participating in some sort of fun club, but they are really being shown how easily impressionable people can be attracted by autocracy.
The biting irony of this film is that at the beginning of the autocracy class, Wenger touched on the subject of Hitler's reign, and the students almost instinctively spit out answers about how Germany would never fall into that trap again knowing what they know now. But, the children soon eat their words when they become members of a much less disturbing, yet frighteningly similar clique.
There is a glimmer of this fact when two students who aren't members of "The Wave" pick on a student who is. Two other members come to the rescue of the victim. Though many may view this as a positive aspect of this sort of togetherness, the point is that fascism has developed and can easily become corrupt.
I highly recommend this to any potential viewer who either holds the same views as the students at the beginning of the film or simply wants to be entertained by the ironic theme of the film (so long as you don't mind the subtitles).
- Entertaining fictional experiment in classroom dictatorship 11/9/2008 12:00:00 AM by joebloggscity
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.