Based on a German novel for children, “The Wave” tells of an experiment that reconstructs the foundations of a dictatorship
Texture The wave
During the theme week, a teacher from a German high school, Rainer Wenger, finds himself having to face the theme of autocracy, although he preferred that of anarchy, which is closer to his ideals. Students, initially bored with the subject, do not believe it possible that a new dictatorship could be established in modern Germany, as people have learned from the mistakes of the past. The teacher then decides to organize an experiment, in such a way as to demonstrate to the students how the masses can be easily manipulated.The experiment involves the class itself and begins with the choice of a leader, who is identified in the teacher, and the imposition of some basic rules. Wenger to make the class begin to be more united, changes the arrangement of the desks, so that the groups of friends are upset and the less good students can find themselves close to the better ones, helping each other and improving overall class results. Finally, when students want to say something out loud, they should stand up and give short, concise answers. Wenger also shows his students how the effect of marching in unison can make them feel as one entity.The next step after identifying the group is to give it a name, chosen from various proposals from the students and selected by vote. “The Wave” (“Die Welle”) is chosen. A special logo is also created. Each student will then have to wear a sort of uniform, consisting of a white shirt and jeans, in order to remove individual and class distinctions. In addition, a greeting is invented, or the simulation, made with the right arm, of a wave. Two girls, Carol and Mona, do not accept the group’s decisions and abandon the experiment, disgusted by how the class has uncritically embraced the ideals of the Wave. Wave with adhesives and spray cans, even painting the scaffolding that hides the town hall. They also begin to hold parties in which only members of the movement are allowed to participate, opposing and discriminating against all others. A young man in particular, Tim, a boy who since the beginning of the film understands himself to be insecure, submissive to the strongest and even psychologically unstable, begins to identify himself obsessively with the group, since only inside can he finally feel accepted. He even sets out to become Wenger’s bodyguard by obsessing him and his girlfriend.The strength of the Wave is increasingly disruptive and soon the project seems to get out of hand to its creator, who is unable to end it before it leads to tragic consequences and unpleasant episodes of violence; In fact, Wenger, suffering from an inferiority complex compared to other professors, will feel extremely involved in the group as its leader, making himself “blind” to what the group is actually becoming. In the end, when the professor realizes what is happening and decides to dissolve the movement, Tim, seeing the only thing he believed in destroyed, completely loses his mind and, threatening those present with a gun, first shoots in the shoulder. another boy and then he kills himself. The students’ initial conviction on the impossibility of the birth of a new dictatorship in Germany is thus sensationally and painfully denied by the facts. Wenger, responsible for the incident, is arrested by the police.
For more than twenty years, Morton Ruhe’s novel “Die Welle” (The Wave) has been a classic of children’s literature, and a must-read in many German schools. It is a work of fantasy, but inspired by a real fact. The original experiment was conducted in 1967 by Ron Jones, a history teacher at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California, who tried to demonstrate how little was enough to convert peaceful and diligent boys into enthusiastic advocates of a regime of terror.
Together with the well-known German producer Christian Becker (“Uibu – Cowardly Ghost”), the award-winning German director Dennis Gansel (German Film Award and Hamptons International Audience Award for “NaPolA”) has revisited this almost-true story in a modern and credible key. , with the collaboration of Ron Jones himself, who was the undisputed inspirer.
The question is, could such a thing still happen? In today’s democratic and liberal Germany, where a great deal of time is spent talking about Nazism and the Third Reich, would the establishment of a new dictatorship be possible? This is what director Dennis Gansel asks himself; and somehow he gave us an answer. After all, a charismatic leader, whatever the political and social context in which he acts, has the possibility, with the help of well-crafted rhetoric, to ensnare the consciences of his listeners.
If we combine the loss of fundamental values and ideals with extreme ease of conviction, we have created the possibility of re-establishing dictatorial regimes. The extreme individualism that dominates today’s societies would inevitably lead to the belief that that gap and gap between individuals must absolutely be bridged. It is not far from the truth to think that, if there were a strong and extremely authoritarian personality, a dictatorship would not take long to recover.
“The Wave” is a film that places us in front of a sort of awareness, in the hope that in the face of such a horrible possibility, our judgment will somehow be questioned. Repeating such an experiment today would have devastating consequences, therefore discussing certain dynamics is a duty!