Opening 13 Mar 2008
To combat the complacency of his high school students to their new week-long seminar on “Autocracy”, the popular teacher, Rainer Wegner (Jürgen Vogel), tries an innovative approach. Unbeknownst to the classroom participants, he “creates” an autocracy with them, with himself as the leader, which evolves quickly and out of his control. Without the fascist label, most students are attracted to the new social order and power of unity offered by Wegner’s new group, The Wave. The film provides insights into extreme obedience to authority, how easily it can be induced (easier when there is a void in the person’s life – harder when the person is in a position of power in the "old" order) and how it gets out of hand.
Writer/director Dennis Gansel adapted his screenplay from the novel The Wave by Tom Strasser, based on a true story regarding teacher Ron Jones
who conducted the experiment The Third Wave at a Palo Alto, California, high school in 1967. Jones started with 30 students and by the end of the week had
300! Gansel’s film is set in present-day Germany. Fine performances are given, especially by Jürgen Vogel and Frederick Lau, who plays the deeply troubled student Tim. My only critique would be the ending, which left the blame on a “bad” teacher, who is carted away before he could finish the most important part of the lesson. (Nancy Tilitz)