The Wave (Die Welle)
- Tony McKibbin
- 18 September 2008
A slickly produced examination of how fascism can enter everyday life, The Wave is a peer pressure teen drama where much of the heat comes from above, noticeably Jürgen Vogel’s high school teacher who wonders what will happen if he instils in the kids a few lessons from the Nazi past. Most of the kids take to the strict dress code, harsher discipline and the group ethic with the worrying rapidity of the proverbial duck to water. Is there something innate in us that makes such leanings inevitable, or is it the lack of anything innate that leads to our being so easily swayed? Writer/director Dennis Gansel (though based on Todd Strasser’s novel) doesn’t dig too deep, but his well-made youth drama was a hit in Germany and it offers a couple of moments of tension come the denouement.
Gansel has said of the film that: ‘the subject didn’t let go of me. The question was: would we still fall for it?’ but the real strength of his film resides in its savvy exploitation of the theme rather than exploration of it. This is basically an entertaining, sharply made teen thriller with a typically solid central performance from German TV and film star Vogler and consistent with The Edukators, Goodbye, Lenin and Sophie Scholl: The Final Days – all recent attempts by German filmmakers to explore their political past through mainstream narratives.
Selected release on Fri 19 Sep.