Die Welle 2008
1h 47min | Drama, Thriller | 18 January 2008 (USA)
High school teacher, Rainer Wegner, may be popular with the students, but he’s also unorthodox. He’s forced to teach autocracy for the school’s project week. He’s less than enthusiastic at first, but the response of the students is surprising to say the least. He forces the students to become more invested in the prospect of self rule, and soon the class project has its own power and eerily starts to resemble Germany’s past. Can Wegner and his class realize what’s happening before the horrors start repeating themselves?
“Die Welle” is an above average classroom drama with a political voice. Helmed by director Dennis Gansel, film is unforgiving in depicting the youth as a generation without anything to rebel about but loneliness, making them sensitive to any sort of illusion of belonging. Mostly a riveting affair, film lags in its second act as it jumps into Dawson’s Creek. Film goes ashore into a memorable finale. Straight forward filming will captivate audiences, along with a pleasing cast.
Project week in a suburban high school entails them to study various forms of government and restriction. Rainer Wenger (Jürgen Vogel), an under-appreciated teacher finds a way in engaging his students. He cleverly manipulates his class to slap them out of apathy and disinterest with tiny minute changes which eventually builds up to a boil. Classroom scenes are stimulating as debates between the students are daring and engrossing – writing mention controversial topics that are usually not spoken with lethargy. Film focuses on a group of smart people, highlighting further that what’s bound to happen is even more tragic and rings a bell to what can happen out of celluloid..
Inspired by a 1960’s social experiment in California documenting how easy it is to influence individuals, film looses track in its middle section as it begins to refocus on the individual lives of the students. Most characters seem to be run in the mill with general high school romance trouble, which would have been interesting but brings nothing new to the table. Stories work better as a collective rather than individuals, which further add to the intended effect. Some personalities shine though: students who never had any sense of belonging are indeed looked at with much heartbreak here as this false sense of security is embraced by them, motivating them to go a step further in preserving the society.
Finale is spellbinding as even if it diverts a lot from the actual experiment, it still proves as a necessity to further establish a point. Film parallels to the effect of Third Reich within its members and climax reminds audiences of the Bruno Ganz header “Der Untergang”, as it clearly parallels the extent of loyalties that may arise in such occasions. From the get go, death of a character is imminent and even with its shock value, it justifies itself as beyond a plot device.
As an ensemble, the acting here is impermeable as they all deliver solid performances. Vogel especially convey solid work as the teacher. He brings gravity and his semi-bald haircut proves ominous. It’s a shame that audiences lose connection to him midway though as he suddenly becomes the background to the melodrama.
German setting of the movie elevates the film’s status. It creates this palpable undercurrent, that even with a country that already identifies itself as guilty; it still cannot escape the possibility of anarchy. Even if the picture becomes stern with its themes, it still is digestible to the mainstream. Word of mouth can secure a life outside the tills.
Director: Dennis Gansel
Writers: Ron Jones (short story and original protocols) (as William Ron Jones), Johnny Dawkins (screenplay)
Stars: Frederick Lau, Max Riemelt, Jennifer Ulrich
Format : Matroska
Format version : Version 1
File size : 4.37 GiB
Duration : 1 h 46 min
Overall bit rate : 5 867 kb/s