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WAVE, THE (WELLE, DIE)

WAVE, THE
Scene from "The Wave" (photo © Conny Klein/Rat Pack/Constantin Film)

Based on a real event from a Californian high school in 1967 and transposed to Germany today, The Wave is a cautionary tale about the roots of fascism.

The film opens with charismatic teacher Rainer Wegner beginning a week long class on autocracy. To indifferent students, it’s a hard sell, but Wegner gets an idea for an experiment: as their leader he asks the students to call him Mr. Wegner, chooses the motto, creates a logo, decides that everyone wears a white shirt, and names the group, ‘The Wave’ adding a secret sign reminiscent of a Nazi salute. Much to their surprise the students find that they like the power of unity and soon this new found discipline spills over to other school activities and newcomers join the group. The Wave gives the kids something to believe in for a change, until they go too far and The Wave spins out of control.


Dennis Gansel was born in 1973 in Hanover. Following his civil service duty, he studied at the Academy of Television & Film (HFF/M) in Munich. His films include: The Wrong Trip (short, 1995), Living Dead (1996) - a short film with Iris Berben, Im Auftrag des Herrn (short, 1997), The Phantom (TV, 2000), Girls on Top (Maedchen Maedchen, 2001), Napola (2004), and The Wave (Die Welle, 2008).
Genre Thriller
Category Feature
Year of Production 2008
Director Dennis Gansel
Screenplay Peter Thorwarth, Dennis Gansel
Cinematography Torsten Breuer
Ueli Christen
Knut Loewe
Cast Frederick Lau, Jennifer Ulrich, Max Riemelt, Christiane Paul, Jürgen Vogel
Producers Peter Schiller, Nina Maag, Martin Moszkowicz, Christian Becker
Production Company Rat Pack Filmproduktion, in co-production with Constantin Film Produktion
Length 93 min
Format 35 mm, color
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Version English
Sound Technology Dolby SRD
Festivals Sundance 2008, Istanbul 2008 (In Competition), Melbourne 2008, Seattle 2008, Montreal 2008, Cambridge 2008, Ghent 2008, Turin 2008 (In Competition), Sprockets Toronto 2009, BUSTER Copenhagen 2013
Awards German Film Award 2008 (Best Film in Bronze, Best Supporting Actor Frederick Lau)
With backing from German Federal Film Board, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, German Federal Film Fund
German Distributor Constantin Film Verleih

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