DIE WELLE (THE WAVE), Dennis Gansel (2008)
Lately, not only I am reviewing films but also following recommendations by friends. This one was compared to Experiment, another German movie I haven’t been able to see yet, apparently quite shocking, focusing on human reactions under certain situations.
The Wave is a clear example of the merging tendency of people into a group in order to acquire identity, many times led by a strong character which can manipulate their will and thoughts easily.
In this case, the approach to this sort of dictatorial example happens at a German high school when Rainer Wenger, the cool teacher who used to praise Anarchy, squatting and punk back in the old days, is forced to teach the subject Autocracy for a whole week to those students who decide to join this class voluntarily.
What he starts is a role play in which he’s the leader and the teenagers his followers. Problems start when some of them take the game really serious believing this experience to be an actual philosophy and excluding and even bullying those not interested in taking part of the society, The Wave, and of course, when this behavior trespasses the school environment affecting private lives.
The essence of the story is actually interesting, although as in many German films, characters are not very remarkable, and performance is very poor. Moreover, the personal circumstances of the characters, although should be relevant, are so lightly depicted they do not contribute to enforce the idea of the creation and quick development of this society .
I can’t help but thinking about The Lord of the Flies, a story of school kids lost in an island after a plane crash, and the way innocence turns into survival and cruelty, prevailing the law of the strongest. The way this society is described is more credible, maybe the Victorian tone suggests it in a more proper way.
The Wave happens in just one week, of course this is a tale about dictatorship, and the fast development of the situation is not to be taken for real, however, again, it’s hard to believe such reactions among teenagers, the atmosphere created super modern and cool is a mistake. No matter the few examples, as previously mentioned, of unhappy kids, starting from the point that Autocracy is brought out from a climate of tension, frustration and despair, and here kids are driving BMW’s, drinking and smoking pot and the centre seems Beverly Junior High.
Anyway, taking the essence of the story, seems that people need to belong to a group in order to reassure their identity, it’s funny because in the last post I wrote, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I was questioning whether a global society in which no class differences and everybody would be treated as equal would be better or worse. The truth is that I don’t have the answer, I’d like to think that everyone is special in some way or another, and has their own opinions, but cannot be 100% sure the way we are manipulated and so our state of mind.
Question is, would you end up supporting a movement that in the end is a hidden dictatorship, and become a puppet managed by some powerful organization you don’t really notice? Sure you say no, but who knows…