The Wave (15)

Written and directed by Dennis Gansel
Based on a novel by Todd Strasser
Screening at FACT from 3rd October 2008

Reviewed by Anthony Swords

Based on the real events at a Californian high school in the late 1960s, The Wave is a German remake of the 1981 US TV movie and novelisation of the same name, in which a school teacher creates an experiment with his pupils to demonstrate how easily a civilised society can succumb to fascist ideals.

With the action now transplanted to contemporary Germany, the students’ dismissal of Nazi history and the firm belief that a country such as Germany could never again make the same mistake, this film holds greater resonance for modern western attitudes of apathy in our current climate.

The Wave certainly lacks the power or inventiveness of Peter Watkins' look at society’s propensity for fascism in Punishment Park (1971), but is clearly aimed at a younger audience. Had this film been made in Britain it may have been subject to scenes of sex and drug taking to take advantage of the current Skins generation, but this would miss its demographic and instead remains focused on more widespread teenage concerns of acceptance and identity.

However, the film would have benefitted from a more revealing look at Herr Wenger’s character as he seems more ignorant to his pupils’ extra-curricular activities than caught up in the wave himself as is suggested.

B+ for effort, must try harder.

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