3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
How do you relate to an unthinkable heritage?,
This review is from: The Wave (Die Welle) (DVD)
How do you relate to an unthinkable heritage? It is easy enough to embrace and celebrate the heroic struggles that define one's cultural or national identity, but is it enough to label the evils as such in order to safely relegate them to the past?
In Dennis Gansel's film The Wave (Die Welle) a likeable but unorthodox German high school teacher sets out to demonstrate to his students that fascism is still possible, and finds his experiment to be more successful than even he had predicted. Rainer, who had been planning to teach a course on anarchism and punk rock, is assigned to teach a special module on fascism and autocracy. Confronted with the apathy of students who find the topic both irrelevant and done to death, he decides to try another approach: he shows them firsthand just how appealing a regime based on order, unity and discipline can be.
As the students' fascination with dictatorial techniques of social control leads to their enthusiastic participation, the newly established community takes on a life of its own that grows dangerously out of control. The film is based on a true story of a teacher in California who, at the peak of the social upheaval in the 70's, wanted to show his students how Nazi Germany and the horrors of Auschwitz could come to be. The genius of the film - which manages to be thoroughly engaging and fun to watch at the same time as it raises important questions - is in its seamless adaptation of this story to a very different time and place, showing how easily the universal need for acceptance and desire to belong to something important can be perverted into a system that promotes hatred of the nonconformist and of the outsider.