Monday, April 6, 2015

The Wave (2011)

Autocracy – a system of government by one person with absolute power or unlimited authority over others

It took a mere week for the heavens and earth to be created …the same amount of time for a high school experiment to begin as a classroom project to an out-of-control social movement with dangerous repercussions, blogspot readers.

That’s the premise of this intense psychological drama in a German film titled “The Wave”, based on an actual experiment created by Ron Jones. This move takes the viewer within the ideals and thoughts behind the seeds of fascism during one week when a popular teacher (Jurgen Vogel as Rainer Wenger) abandons his usual unorthodox methods for a project about “autocracy”. The subject itself might be unpopular to him but for the students, it instantly gets them interested …soaking up the information like sponges each day. They take those ideals (such as strength in unity, discipline and action is power, and the notion of working as one team) to heart, blogspot readers, thus they soon call themselves (and the project) The Wave.

Yet, it soon becomes more than just a classroom project. The feeling and movement spreads beyond the classroom …and spills into the open as the students “recruit” new members to join. The gradual process of The Wave changing into the social movement is frightening since it also separates as well as divides friendships and relationships when free-thinking ideals are not welcomed within the group. Besides the change effecting the students of this project, it also changes the Rainer as well. He’s no longer the unorthodox, rock-n-roll rebel wearing Ramones or The Clash tee and radical amongst the teaching staff as we first see him at the beginning of the project but soon an autocratic leader of a growing Wave movement. In a way, think of the rise of Adolf Hilter and the Third Reich.

Scary, huh, blogspot readers?  Even Rainer questions the class “…so you don’t think there could be another dictatorship in Germany…” to which a student named Jens replies “…No, we are too enlightened now…” Still this project proved even under an “enlightened” society seeds of fascism or autocratic thinking can sprout from a thought or idea. The Wave society soon have their own insignia, uniform code (white shirts and jeans), salute and communal thinking as one. The project is successful however it begins to go too far …gets out of control especially when one student (Tim portrayed by Frederick Lau) who’s somewhat the class loner but gradually emerges as a leader  thus not wanting the project to end.

No spoilers here, blogspot readers, but SouthSide highly recommends checking out The Wave in which writer/director Dennis Gansel wonderfully exposes the human psyche and seduction that comes with fascist thinking and ideals. Visibly, you watched the effects this project has on the students and others around them each day budding at a gradual pace towards something powerfully dangerous. SouthSide liked how this progression was quite subtle and sneaky rather than leaping out to smack you in the face. And, yes, there was that swell of national pride of being a part of The Wave (even this reviewer felt as the project reached its height at the latter part of the week) but you’ll also feel the fear of what happens to those not part of The Wave when the group starts viewing themselves being better than the rest. You sort of get the sense Rainer is blind to what’s happening but he’s not totally oblivious either because he too fears (towards the end of the movie) the potential danger where the project’s heading.

The Wave (shown in German with English subtitles) also has a couple of bonus features that SouthSide recommends viewing to get a better (and deeper) perspective about the movie. This reviewer highly recommends watching the interview with Ron Jones (history teacher and creator of The Third Wave experiment) who explains why and how the German populace could accept the actions of the Nazi regime during World War II and then view the “behind the scenes” which went into making The Wave.

SouthSide gives The Wave her 4 ½ thumbs up.

Until next time, support your local scene,


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