Original Title: Die Welle
Directed by Dennis Gansel
German High School teacher Rainer Wenger is less than enthusiastic about being assigned the topic of Autocracy during special project’s week. After students reject the idea of autocracy being a threat to democracy in modern day Germany, Wenger constructs a social experiment to illustrate how easily these ideas can emerge. The experiment spirals out of control and threatens the lives of those participating.
This type of film can only be effective if the audience is able to connect to the story on some emotional level; otherwise, the plot might as well be presented as a lecture. The characters are flawed in the sense that they are human and are susceptible to mistakes.
Jürgen Vogel and Frederick Lau deliver excellent performances as Mr. Wenger and Tim, a seemingly obsessed participant in the experiment, respectively. The dialogue between these two largely builds the basis for emotional involvement from the audience.
Many of the side plots, however, are not as effective. The most prominent of these plots involves a conflict between a love interest and the unity born from the experiment.
The Wave presents an idea that many of us would brush aside as absurd and argues it quite well. By the end of the film, the audience is left with a handful to think about; the film offers a strong dose of political philosophy and social psychology.