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Film: Die Welle

"Ihr seid also der Meinung, dass eine Diktatur heute in Deutschland nicht mehr möglich wäre?"
"So, you are of the opinion that a dictatorship would no longer be possible in Germany today?"

Die Welle is the 2008 German remake of The Wave, the fictional version of Ron Jones' 'Third Wave' experiment, directed by Dennis Gansel and relocating the events to a school in present day Germany. The film takes the basic premise and reworks the characters to fit with the German setting and changes the ending to become more dramatic, but remains a disturbingly realistic take on how History Repeats.

The teacher Rainer Wenger is assigned to hold a class on Autocracy, against his wish to talk about Anarchy. Deciding to do the best about the situation he finds out that most of his students just took the class because Wenger is a popular teacher, not because of the subject. Most of the students think that Germany could never be an autocracy like the Third Reich again. Wenger decides to start an experiment with his class to prove the opposite and things start to go horribly wrong...

The films star Jürgen Vogel, Frederick Lau, Max Riemelt and Jennifer Ulrich.

Die Welle provides examples of:

  • Break the Cutie: This happens to Lisa, Karo's best friend, at the end of the film.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: Subverted. The anarchist gang lead by Faust are not violent until they are provoked by the Wave-members putting up their symbol all over town. It becomes Fridge Brilliance when you realise during their first encounter Faust calls the Wave members fascists. Germans would understandably be offended by such an insult.
    • And in fact the English subtitling is even more blatant: he calls them "Nazis".
  • Cool Teacher: Wenger is this, his class being full despite the "boring" topic and usually on a first-name basis with his students.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Tim's mental breakdown and subsequent suicide. Particularly jarring because nothing like that happens in the original film and book.
  • Darker and Edgier: In both the original film and the book, the conflict is resolved when Mr. Ross reveals the true nature of the experiment to his students, and no violence takes place. In this remake, however, the revelation causes one of the students to snap because he fears he will be lonely and bullied as before the experiment and he pulls out a gun and threatens the other students with it and actually shoots one of them, then threatens the teacher before killing himself instead.
  • Dawson Casting: Most of the students are played by actors in their twenties.
  • Death by Adaptation: Tim, counterpart of Robert in the original, commits suicide at the end.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Again, Tim's mental breakdown and suicide.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The salute Bomber invents for the Wave (a hand motion that mimicks a wave) that every member including Wenger eagerly adopts is very reminicent of the fascist salute.
  • Downer Ending
  • Foreign Remake: Towards the original film and book The Wave. Set in the country whose history was the original's inspiration, no less.
  • Foreshadowing: At the very first day of the project week, Tim adapts to the new drill exceptionally well. Guess who goes nuts after the reveal...
  • Gang Of Bullies: Sinan, Bomber and Kevin. Sinan & Bomber reform thanks to the Wave.
  • Gone Horribly Right
  • Heroic BSOD: Wenger, after the shooting.
  • He Who Fights Monsters/Became Their Own Antithesis: Wenger, an anti-fascist anarchist, starts the project to teach his students how easy it is to fall to fascism, but according to his wife, starts to enjoy the leader a bit much.
  • History Repeats: Main point of the film.
  • Hope Spot: Near the end of the film, when Tim threatens everyone else with his gun during his mental breakdown, for a moment it seems as if Wenger manages to bring him back to his senses ... and then Tim shoots himself.
  • Hot Teacher: Rainer's wife.
  • Hypocrite: Karo in subverted form; she only turns against The Wave when she chooses to not wear the uniform (white shirt) everyone in The Wave agreed on wearing, because of a comment from her mother, and thus starts see how The Wave treats non-members. It's likely she would not have turned against them if she had worn the uniform.
  • La Résistance: Karo & Mona.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Subverted. Tim's behavior is caused by him being desperate to not be alone any more.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Marco has one of these after he hits Karo for opposing the Wave.
    • In the final moments of the film Wenger is sitting in the police car and is so tormented by his guilt over creating the Wave he can hardly hold back on his emotions.
  • No Antagonist
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: During the water polo game.
  • Only One Name: Most of the characters.
  • Principles Zealot: Mona, the socialist.
  • Putting on the Reich: Natch.
  • Wham Line: Wenger asks the students whether they would kill Marco if he asked them to.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Marco cheats on Karo, with her best friend!. And she never gets to know.

We Are the NightGerman FilmsThe White Ribbon
War, Inc.Films of 2005 - 2009 Were the World Mine

alternative title(s): Die Welle
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