The Wave

May 27th, 2011


The Wave

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A high school teacher's unusual experiment to demonstrate to his students what life is like under a dictatorship spins horribly out of control when he forms a social unit with a life of its own.

Release Year: 2008

Rating: 7.5/10 (24,512 voted)

Director: Dennis Gansel

Stars: Jürgen Vogel, Frederick Lau, Max Riemelt

High school teacher, Rainer Wegner, may be popular with the students, but he's also unorthodox. He's forced to teach autocracy for the school's project week. He's less than enthusiastic at first, but the response of the students is surprising to say the least. He forces the students to become more invested in the prospect of self rule, and soon the class project has its own power and eerily starts to resemble Germany's past. Can Wegner and his class realize what's happening before the horrors start repeating themselves?

Writers: Dennis Gansel, Todd Strasser

Jürgen Vogel - Rainer Wenger
Frederick Lau - Tim Stoltefuss
Max Riemelt - Marco
Jennifer Ulrich - Karo
Christiane Paul - Anke Wenger
Jacob Matschenz - Dennis
Cristina do Rego - Lisa
Elyas M'Barek - Sinan
Maximilian Vollmar - Bomber
Max Mauff - Kevin (as Maximilian Mauff)
Ferdinand Schmidt-Modrow - Ferdi
Tim Oliver Schultz - Jens
Amelie Kiefer - Mona
Fabian Preger - Kaschi
Odine Johne - Maja


Official Website: Official site [Germany] | Official site [France] |

Release Date: 27 May 2011

Filming Locations: Berlin, Germany

Box Office Details

Budget: €5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $3,151,023 (Germany) (16 March 2008) (279 Screens)

Gross: $20,675,948 (Germany) (4 May 2008)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Much like Napola, the film was partly inspired by Gansel's grandfather who Gansel had a lot of fights with when young because the grandfather used to tell him he was supportive of the nazi government when they where in power. It was not until Gansel's grandfather told him about his ambitions of becoming an artist, but because his family was poor he ended up joining the National Political Academy (NAPOLA). Gansel understood that the lure of fascism was all about seduction and psychology. This laid the basis for the film and its themes.

Factual errors: Although set somewhere in western Germany, all policemen wear insignia of the state of Berlin.

User Review

Fascism is Only A Few Missteps Away

Rating: 8/10

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.


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