Die Welle, or "The Wave" in English, is a 2008 film based on a surprisingly true story. The entire film is in German and is the only film on the subject mentioned below. The reason I am writing a review on this film is to share the incredible impact that devotion can create.
"The Wave" takes place in 1967 at Cubberley High School. A young teacher aims to enlighten his students on the power of a fascist community via a few simple exercises that show how easy it is to lead a group of people uniformly, how group-think takes over and how in-group bias develops. The following week he assigns them a project: their class is now to act as an exclusive society. They are to wear plain white T-shirts and utilize their newly created symbol, the wave, in whatever they do. They are to hang out with only students in the class and to rebuke those unfortunate enough to not be included. This mindset is seen naturally in many high schools, but rarely to this extent and never by assignment. The psudo-nazi class’s slogan is “strength through discipline, strength through community, strength through action.”
Within the following two weeks, the fascist party had grown to around 300 students with an undying loyalty to “the wave” and had already vandalized property, verbally and physically abused other students and even developed entirely new personas in the name of their newborn cult. The actual event was not nearly as violent as the movie portrays, especially near the end, and was blown slightly out of proportion by the film, which initially upset the real-life autocratic professor, Ron Jones.
If German documentary styled films aren’t your style, but you either appreciate or are interested in fascism or psychology (or both), then this is a recommended film for you. The story line is intriguing and easy to follow throughout, but it mostly just makes you think about the repercussions of following the crowd or falling victim to a power scheme.
This movie is particularly enjoyable for those still on a hype from the recent presidential election. Trump has often been compared to the most notorious absolutist in history, Adolph Hitler, and this story actually gives a nice perspective on how bad things aren’t and just how bad they could be.
If you like psychology, politics, or Nazism, then this is a must-see for you. It is far more entertaining than an average documentary and is fairly Hollywoodized to boot.