The Wave (2008 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Dennis Gansel|
|Produced by||Rat Pack Filmproduktion
|Screenplay by||Dennis Gansel
Ron Jones (novel & diary)
|Based on||The Wave by Morton Rhue|
|Music by||Heiko Maile|
|Distributed by||Constantin Film Verleih GmbH|
|Running time||107 minutes|
Die Welle (English: The Wave) is a 2008 German film directed by Dennis Gansel and starring Jürgen Vogel, Frederick Lau, Jennifer Ulrich and Max Riemelt in the leads. It is based on Ron Jones' social experiment The Third Wave. The film was produced by Christian Becker for Rat Pack Filmproduktion. It was successful in German cinemas, and after 10 weeks 2.3 million people had watched the film.
High school teacher Rainer Wenger (Jürgen Vogel) is forced to teach a class on autocracy, despite being an anarchist. When his students, third generation after the Second World War, do not believe that a dictatorship could be established in modern Germany, he starts an experiment to demonstrate how easily the masses can be manipulated. He begins by demanding that all students address him as "Herr Wenger", as opposed to Rainer, and places students with poor grades beside students with good grades – purportedly so they can learn from one another and become better as a whole. When speaking, they must stand and give short, direct answers. Wenger shows his students the effect of marching together in the same rhythm, motivating them by suggesting that they could really annoy the anarchy class, which is below them. Wenger suggests a uniform, to remove class distinction and further unite the group. Mona (Amelie Kiefer) argues it will remove individuality, as well. Karo (Jennifer Ulrich) shows up to class without the uniform and is ostracised. The students decide they need a name, deciding on "Die Welle" (The Wave). Karo suggests another name, which ends up with one single vote cast by herself.
The group is shown to grow closer, and the bully Bomber (Maximilian Vollmar) is shown to reform, protecting a classmate from bullies. He also creates a distinctive salute for the group. Karo and Mona protest the actions of the group, and Mona, disgusted with how her classmates are embracing fascism, leaves the project group. The other classmates don't see the connection with fascism. The members of The Wave begin spray-painting their logo around town, having parties where only Wave members are allowed to attend, and ostracising and tormenting anyone not in their group. Tim (Frederick Lau) becomes very attached to the group, having finally become an accepted member of a social group. He burns his name-brand clothes, after a discussion about how large corporations do not take responsibility for their actions.
A pair of punks start a fight with Tim, but he is saved by Bomber and Sinan (Elyas M'Barek) and starts to bond with them. When Tim and his group of new friends are confronted by a group of angry anarchists (including the punks that Tim faced previously), Tim pulls a Walther PP pistol, causing them to back down. Tim explains to his shocked friends that the pistol only fires blanks. Tim later shows up at Wenger's house, offering to be a bodyguard. Wenger declines his offer but invites Tim in for dinner. This puts further strain on Wenger's already tense relationship with his wife, who thinks the experiment has gone too far. Wenger finally ejects Tim from his house, only to find in the morning that the boy had slept on his doorstep. Wenger's wife, upset, tells him to stop the experiment immediately. He accuses her of being jealous and insults her. Shocked, she leaves him, saying the Wave has made him a worse person.
Karo continues her opposition to the Wave, earning the anger of many in the group, who ask her boyfriend, Marco (Max Riemelt), to do something about it. A water polo competition is due that day, and Wenger asks The Wave to show up in support of the team. Karo and Mona, denied entry to the competition, sneak in another way to distribute anti-Wave fliers. Members of The Wave notice this and scramble to retrieve the papers before anybody reads them. In the chaos, Sinan starts a fight with an opposing team member, the two almost drowning each other. After the match, Marco confronts Karo and accuses her of causing the fight. She replies that the Wave has brainwashed him completely, and he slaps Karo. Unsettled by his own behavior, Marco approaches Wenger and asks him to stop the project. Wenger agrees and calls a meeting of all Wave members for the following day in the school's auditorium.
Once in the meeting, Wenger has the doors locked and begins whipping the students into a fervour. When Marco protests, Wenger calls him a traitor and orders the students to bring him to the stage for punishment. Wenger uses this to force the students to see how extreme the Wave has become. Wenger disbands the Wave, but Dennis (Jacob Matschenz) argues that they should try to salvage the good parts. Wenger points out that there's no way to remove the negative elements from fascism. Tim draws a gun and refuses to accept the Wave is over, fearing that he will once more be lonely and states that the Wave is his life. Bomber claims the gun fires blanks, but is shot by Tim to show he is using live ammunition. Wenger tries to calm Tim but he then points his gun at him. The teacher explains to him the Wave could no longer live if his leader dies, Tim realizes it's actually over and decides to take his own life as there is no meaning for him to keep living without the Wave. Wenger cradles his corpse and looks helplessly at his now traumatised students. The film ends with Wenger being arrested by the police and driven away, Bomber being taken away to the hospital, and Marco and Karo being re-united. The final images show Wenger in the back of a police car, staring into the camera overcome with distress.
- Jürgen Vogel as Rainer Wenger, the teacher who started the experiment with his class.
- Frederick Lau as Tim, an insecure, mentally unstable student who has had problems at school. At the beginning of the film he is pictured as an outsider until The Wave project starts. Then he becomes a committed member and finds new friends.
- Max Riemelt as Marco, a strong boy, who plays in Wenger's water polo team. He is Karo's boyfriend.
- Jennifer Ulrich as Karo, a diligent and intelligent student. She protests against The Wave and because of this, she has intense rows with Marco and her friends.
- Cristina do Rego as Lisa, a shy girl who has never had a boyfriend. She is best friends with Karo, but later they have an argument when Karo protests against The Wave.
- Christiane Paul as Anke Wenger, is the wife of Rainer and teaches in the same school.
- Elyas M'Barek as Sinan, a student of Turkish descent and member of the water-polo team. He is Bomber's best friend. Elyas M'Barek had earlier appeared in Gansel's film Mädchen, Mädchen.
- Maximilian Vollmar as Bomber, a bully who reforms thanks to The Wave and befriends Tim
- Maximilian Mauff as Kevin, an upperclass student who clashes with The Wave at first until he joins the group for social reason as he loses his status
- Jacob Matschenz as Dennis, a student who comes from East Germany. He becomes a member of The Wave, like most of his classmates.
- Ferdinand Schmidt-Modrow as Ferdi
- Tim Oliver Schultz as Jens
- Amelie Kiefer as Mona
- Odine Johne as Maja
- Fabian Preger as Kaschi
- Tino Mewes as Schädel
- Maxwell Richter as Anarchist
- Alexander Held as Tim's father
- Dennis Gansel as Martin
The film was shot in the Marie Curie Gymnasium in Dallgow-Döberitz over 38 days. The filmmakers spent almost a year casting young actors until their class was complete. Some of the young male actors also had to be able to give a credible performance playing water polo. "I was looking for highly charismatic actors who could fill out their roles," says Dennis Gansel. Shooting the water polo scenes turned out to be one of the greatest challenges of the shoot. Temperatures in summer in the indoor pool in Berlin-Reinickendorf easily climbed over 100 degrees fahrenheit. Add to that humidity of 80%, and the water polo games became a real workout for the entire cast and crew. The punishing heat wave was followed by school angst for several cast and crew members: The lion's share of shooting took place in a real high school, which awakened a lot of memories for some: "It was very weird being in school all the time. I really felt I was back in class!" Cristina Do Rego recalls. Max Riemelt felt the same way: "Definitely! As soon as I sat down in the classroom, I started getting drowsy again. You totally fall back into your old rut. I started doodling again right away. That's what I always used to do. And the poor ventilation took care of the rest."
The soundtrack of the film was released on 25 May 2008 through EMI Germany, and contains tracks by The Subways, Kilians, Johnossi, Digitalism and The Hives, as well as a cover version of the classic Ramones' track "Rock 'n' Roll High School" made for the film by the German punk band EL*KE. Jan Plewka wrote and recorded a song for the film, Was Dich So Verändert Hat, in both a German and English version. The German version ended up in the film but the English version is available on an international version of the soundtrack. The title-song "Garden Of Growing Hearts" was performed by Berlin band Empty Trash. The original film score was composed by Heiko Maile, a member of the band Camouflage.
|Soundtrack album by Various|
- "Intro - Jürgen Vogel & Tim Oliver Schultz"
- "Rock'n'Roll Highschool - EL*KE"
- "Rock & Roll Queen (Album Version) - The Subways"
- "Execution Song - Johnossi"
- "Fight The Start - Kilians"
- "Garden Of Growing Hearts (Radio Edit) - Empty Trash"
- "Spending My Time - Orange But Green"
- "Short Life Of Margott - Kilians"
- "Everything Is Under Control - Coldcut"
- "Bored - Ronda Ray featuring Markie J"
- "Homzone - Digitalism"
- "Move It! - Ronda Ray Featuring Trevor Jackson"
- "Nightlite - Bonobo"
- "Was Dich So Verändert Hat - Jan Plewka"
- "Arrested - Heiko Maile"
- "Power Control - Ronda Ray Featuring Trevor Jackson"
- "Climbing Up the Tower - Heiko Maile"
- "Sending Out an SMS - Heiko Maile"
- "Swimming - Heiko Maile"
- "White Shirts - Heiko Maile"
- "Dark School - Heiko Maile"
Differences from the 1981 film
In the 1981 film and its novelization, the action takes place in 1969 in the fictitious Gordon High School, which in turn is based on a series of events at a school in Palo Alto, California. The names were changed to sound German, but the characters are similar. For example, Rainer Wenger, Karo, Marco, Mona, and Tim correspond to Ben Ross, Laurie Saunders, David Collins, Andrea, and Robert Billings. The outsider theme was expanded by introducing three new characters: Sinan who is Turkish, Kevin the aggressive bully, and Dennis from East Germany who is mocked as "Ossi". The 1981 film's ending, where there is no violence and the teacher is not arrested, is much tamer than the ending of Die Welle.
- The students are rehearsing a play, in which only "The Wave" students have roles after Karo is fired. This play is 'Der Besuch der alten Dame' of Friedrich Dürrenmatt, a play actually quite popular with German school theatre groups. In this play, an old woman who was exiled from her village by her fellow inhabitants comes back after years; since she has lost her billionaire husband and inherited his wealth, she has her revenge by leading all the villagers to kill her former lover who didn't help her. One of the themes is the group action and how people lose their personalities in a group. This mirrors the teacher's experience, who lead people into acting and losing personalities.
- Two "date paintings" (works from the Today Series) by Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara grace the wall of Rainer Wenger's fairly modest home.
- The film can be seen as echoing the earlier German film Das Experiment, and also has tones of the Stephen King book (also made into a film), "Apt Pupil".
- Dennis Gansel has stated that he will never make another film about National Socialism again after The Wave as he feels he has said all he has to say about the subject.
- Shot on 35 mm.
- 2008 Bronze Lola
- 2008 Frederick Lau Deutscher Filmpreis for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
- Jeff Dawson ...salutes a hit German film ... Sunday Times 31 Aug 2008
- Frederick Lau at the Internet Movie Database
- Official website
- The Wave at the Internet Movie Database
- The Wave at AllMovie
- The Wave at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Wave Home Website with story history, FAQ, links, etc. by original Wave students
- guardian.co.uk Article