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The Wave ( Die Welle ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import – United Kingdom ]

By Dennis Gansel

The Wave ( Die Welle )  [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import – United Kingdom ]

You can view this movie's Amazon detail page here.


Started Watching:
11th October 2008
Finished watching:
11th October 2008


Rating: 10

Considering today’s headlines, this is an extremely timely movie. The knee-jerk “anti-terrorist” propaganda is no different than anti-Jew, anti-witch, anti-(fill-in-the-blank) propaganda that fueled the Third Reich, and every other totalitarian or witch-hunt experience in history. We are all vulnerable at all times to the blame-game whereby we abdicate personal responsibility and seek out scapegoats. That is the point of this movie and this experiment. As Thomas Jefferson said, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” and the most important vigilance is over our personal reactivity and propensity towards mindless obedience and hate in order to “fit in,” be “special,” or avoid ostracism. The Wave is a fictionalized story based on an actual experiment in a Palo Alto High School, which demonstrates just how easy it is to slip into autocracy, and how dangerous it is to be complacent and think it “could never happen here,” or “I could never be a Nazi.” Of course it could happen, and of course I could participate! The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. While this movie, for the sake of a more dramatic climax, takes the experiment a few steps beyond what actually happened in Palo Alto (and throws in some “Columbinesque” elements), it remains quite believable. It is the “cool” popular teacher, not the obvious despot, who easily maneuvers his students first into enthusiastic obedience, followed by “informing on” and persecuting “outsiders” and rebels. I saw this movie at SIFF, followed by a Q & A with Ron Jones, the original Palo Alto teacher, and two of his former students. He described how easy and seductive it it had been to slip into the role of the despot—even as someone who is committed to staying aware and resisting the forces of totalitarianism! The former students commented on being both devastated and grateful for the experience, as it gave them insights that few are given outside the utter tragedy of the “real thing.” Great movie!

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