The Wave / Die Welle (2008) Film Review

One of my favorite films of the 2008 Seattle International Film Festival, The Wave is based off of a true story. Although the actual story takes place in Palo Alto, California, the film takes place in Germany.Teacher Rainier Wenger receives “autocracy” for his project week theme, instead of “anarchy,” as he previously wanted. A generally unconventional character, Wenger decides to undergo a project in his class when his students declare that they think a dictatorship can never happen in Germany again. For the week, Wenger declares himself dictator and becomes the ruling leader of his newly established autocracy.Before he knows it, however, his students, newly dubbed The Wave, have taken the project outside of school grounds. They extend fascism into the hands of unwilling participants and the project soon swings out of control.

Although greatly unrealistic and exaggerated at times, one has to remember that the film is based off of 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.

Dennis Gansel


Christina Becker, Nina Maag, David Groenewold


Ueli Christen


Dennis Gansel, Peter Thorwart, based on the novel by Todd Strasser


Torsten Breuer

Heiko Maile


Principal Cast:

Jürgen Vogel, Frederick Lau, Max Riemelt, Jennifer Ulrich, Christiane Paul, Elyas M’Barek

Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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