The Wave


The Wave (2011)



Critic Consensus: Based on a true story, though relocated to Germany, this thought provoking film has an interesting premise, but suffers through a lack of believability.


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Germany today. During a project week, high school teacher Rainer Wenger (Jurgen Vogel) comes up with an experiment in order to explain to his students how totalitarian governments work. A role-playing game with tragic results begins. Within a few days, what began as harmless notions, like discipline and community, builds into a real movement: The Wave. By the third day, the students start ostracizing and threatening others. When the conflict finally erupts into violence at an intramural water polo game, the teacher decides to break off the experiment. But it's too late. The Wave is out of control... -- (C) IFC

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Critic Reviews for The Wave

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (3)

"The Wave" feels overdetermined and ploddingly dramatized.

May 26, 2011 | Rating: 2.5/5

Still, the quicksilver editing and thumping score mean it's zippily put together, and an undeniable willingness to engage with a youthful audience is admirably inclusive.

Sep 19, 2008 | Rating: 3/6 | Full Review…

Seductive and horrifying at the same time...The film opens with a rush of energy and doesn't let up.

Jan 30, 2008

The inclusion of an engrossing (yet expected) finale ensures that The Wave ends on an exceedingly positive note...

Dec 9, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The Wave is top-heavy and light-footed, racing its winning idea-that fascism can still be attractive to some, even in modern Germany-past itself.

Jun 3, 2011 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

The Wave forces a confrontation with the seductive potential in all of us to abuse and be abused by the exercise of singular power in the name of good.

May 27, 2011 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Wave

Even if based on real events, it is a bit hard to believe that everything that we see here would happen so fast; still, this is a thought-provoking film about people's terrifying disposition to let themselves be seduced by a fascist-like autocracy that could take root in any society.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Despite its jumpy stylistical choices, which clearly serve to appeal young viewers into the story, it deals with an extremely serious subject matter that will trigger very important social and moral discussions

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer


Based on actual events. Although the actual experiment took place in Palo Alto, California, this film takes place in Germany. A teacher decides to undertake a project in his class where his students believe that a dictatorship can never happen in Germany ever again. For the week, the teacher declares himself dictator, and becomes the ruling leader of his newly established group. Before he knows it, however, his students have taken the project outside of school grounds, and extend fascism into the hands of unwilling participants. The project soon gets out of control. Although greatly exaggerated at times, one has to remember that the film is based from real events, and that is what makes the film powerful. The Wave is a study on how one charismatic leader can motivate a populus into doing his will. It is dictatorship on a very small scale, but the haunting part is that dictatorships always start from a small group of mind-washed individuals. I recommend checking this link out: explains the actual experiment. Really good film here!!

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

This German drama about a teacher's project of showing his class how easily people fall into fascism traps starts out somewhat slow, taking its time to establish the characters. And even once the experiments starts to get more and more out of hand, the drama is never taken too far and stays realistic. Only the ending feels a bit too over the top. The open minded viewer can certainly appreciate this cautionary tale, yet at the same time question the fact that the voice of reason against The Wave remains somewhat small. The acting and good direction make for an entertaining and important piece of film, that doesn't get too preachy. Still, I expected a little more, somehow.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

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