Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Movie: The Wave

Today, while I should have been slaving away at revision, I went over to my friend's house for a 'History-Revision-moviethon' which consisted of one movie not set in Nazi Germany or Prohibition America or just America in general (our topics).

However, we did watch a German movie called The Wave. 

It is based on a true event in California, America in 1967 in which a teacher had to teach a class about autocracy and dictorships. When asked the question 'Would a dictorship happen again in the modern age much like The Third Reich under Hitler?', there was a complete NO answer. So, the teacher embarked on a social experiment to treat the class like Hitler would have treated them, building it up every day with rules, regulations and a proper name, salute and logo. The class started off with 30 people, girls and boys.
They decided to call themselves The Third Wave (ringing any bells?) after the fact that every third wave is always the strongest and the biggest. They believed in discipline, community and leadership.

But the third day, there were 200 students in the class.

By the Thursday, the fourth day, it was starting to get out of hand. People were bulling other pupils who weren't apart of the group, the logos were seen everywhere throughout the local town and the members were starting to do and carry stupid things. On the Friday, he called a meeting to witness an announcement that 'The Third Wave would do national'. They were met with an empty channel on a TV and afterwards, the teacher announced they had been a part of an experiment to show that fascism was possible even in a democracy like America. He showed a film on Nazi Germany and the experiment ended.

Although this may sound like a weird, slightly disturbing (a bit I guess) movie to you, it really puts it into perspective. I hadn't heard of this before, neither had my parents who were alive then but it is such a poignant story really. I mean, a group of teenagers behaving like Nazi Germany in just the space of a week? That is pretty scary. The movie symbolises the steps Hitler took in Germany: intimidating non-believers or those that are different, forcing people to do things, following the leader's every move and feel they have a duty, although they really don't know what that is. It's so scary, well-made and so poignant, it's amazing. One of the best films I have seen.

Me and my friends kept stopping it to discuss how it was like that in Nazi Germany from our knowledge for the exams and how that could possibly happen now. I mean it's unlikely that that will ever happen in this day and age but then, but then well they said that about the genocide of the Jews during that period and well, things like that have happened again all over the world. The same with dictorships e.g. Libya at the moment.

I don't know, it just kind of really hit home for me, it made me understand why no-one stopped Hitler, why no-one wanted it to end, why it happened within a year of Hitler being Chancellor and it made me realise that it can happen again and it's up to my generation to learn from past mistakes and make sure it never happens again. Easier said than done, right?

I would completely recommend this film - it opens your eyes to the world, I guess.


  1. The point that's important is that the teacher didn't per se encourage students to ostracize those who weren't members - it was the members themselves, who elected to behave in this elitist way.

    What did disappoint me was that the free-thinking girl wasn't really free-thinking until she was subjected to said ostracism. Before, she was just a sheep in the herd like everyone else, and she refused to take part based on a FASHION choice. Only after she was being treated unfriendly did her brains start kicking in.

    The end is too violent. It hammers the point home, but so would a less violent ending, I think.

  2. True True. She is also remember the 'popular one' so she may feel she has to follow what everyone else is doing as well as her boyfriend wants to do it too. I must admit I didn't understand how one minute she's trying on a white shirt and then the next, refusing to wear it. Maybe because of the mother's comment?

    The ending for me had lots of tension and to be honest, I didn't see it coming at all. I looked it up on Google later and well, I don't think that actually happened. The meeting yes, although a day earlier than in the movie, but the end event, I don't think it did. I don't think the guy got arrested either.

    I liked it but I understand what you're saying.

  3. Yes, I think it was the mom's comment, and then it was stubbornness. I think she felt like if being part of the assignment was to borrow her mom's blouse, then whatever. She wasn't taking the assignment, the movement, or the motive seriously. It was still a shallow motivation for her to not be a part of this.

    It definitely was a tense ending, and I like the characterization of the victim, until he became desperate like that. Without the death, but the parts preluding it, it would have still been an effective movie I think. The teacher would have still had to face consequences, as posession of weapons in a school is still a grave crime.

    In real life none of that violence happened, you are right. The American version of the film is closer to the truth in that sense, where the movie purportedly ends with many discussions between the victim and the teacher.


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