The Wave: a flood of political and social questions
I’m getting used to this critiquing thing. I’ve made a rule for myself: I cannot start another film until I’ve critiqued the last. It’s effective. And demanding, I must admit. But you know what they say about habits, and all that.
This is the third film I’ve critiqued. This is day two. I’m looking forward to what the future holds in store. The Film?
Die Welle (2008), or in English, “The Wave.”
Not many German films have been brought to my attention, but I haven’t been looking. The Wave takes the concept of what Americans tend to see Germany as — a Fascism — and throws it in the audience’s face, all in a high school setting. A social experiment gone overboard, The Wave is captivating, intriguing, and intense, to say the least; an unnerving ride on a social tsunami, one that, from the outside, is clearly nothing but “nerving.”
I am not a surfer. But I have given a shot at the sport, multiple times. There is nothing more absolute, more enduring than catching a wave. And this is coming from a musician. A musician who has played in front of modestly sizable crowds. Which, don’t get me wrong, is a delightful feeling of its own sort, but, I’m serious. If you’ve never surfed, go. Catch a wave. You’ll love it. I loved it. Everybody will love it.
Oh, did I mention what it feels like to be crushed by a wave? Again, and again, and again, and etc.? It hurts like hell. Maybe not the first time. But the thirty-first time. And the seventy-first time. And I’m talking about little 3-6 foot waves. Now imagine a 20 ft wave. Can you? A thirty foot wave?
Thankfully, I’ve never been bold enough, or suicidal enough to put myself in front of an enormous wave.
The Wave, which is not only the name of the film, but also the name of the group the students are involved in, is a ride of a lifetime. If you’re in, you’re in. And included are all the perks of a members-only club, or cult: protection, a sense of belonging, an excuse to vandalize and belittle outsiders. All in the name of The Wave.
At the group’s conception (a social experiment for a government class’ “project week,” on the subject of Authoritarian government), we see immediate benefits: the students are required to sit up straight and stand when speaking, both of which increase their blood flow and ability to think. They are also required to help one another; copying is encouraged. The film certainly raises some questions regarding rules, leadership, and community.
It also, as the group’s momentum increases, with vandalism and other gang related activity, shows the psychological phenomenon known as groupthink, which, if you are unfamiliar with the term, I recommend this article (after you finish mine of course). If you are familiar, then you know that group think has, on countless occasions, caused people to behave in ways they would never have done if they were alone. The article I mentioned refers to many cases in which someone who was thinking about jumping from a bridge, ends up jumping at the insistence of the crowd below. “Jump, jump, jump!” they shouted, until the person jumped. Afterwards, individuals were reported as saying they didn’t know what came over them. They were “riding the wave,” if you will. One that would crush a poor person’s soul enough to influence them to remove themselves from life.
And that’s exactly what happened in The Wave. One of the boys, a troubled victim of we-don’t-even-know-what, let’s the wave get the best of him. I’ll admit, it ended just as I suspected it would. But I wouldn’t have ended it any other way. The teacher — dictator — realizes the trouble he has started, and puts an end to it in the smartest way he could. But for a soul like the boy aforementioned, the wave offered the only thing he ever wanted in life: friends. “The wave is my life!” He shouts, as he points the gun at the room full of students. His life was over, as far as he was concerned. And so, what started as a social experiment, designed to teach students the dangers of an Authoritarian government, became a double homicide, or single homicide and suicide, whichever way you choose to look at it. Either way, it totally sucked, and fortunately wasn’t a blood bath.
So is democracy, with all its flaws, worth keeping alive?
I dare say it is! Perhaps we don’t have a “pure” democracy anywhere today, but what is a pure Democracy, really? Demos are people, and people, thank God, are flawed. A pure Democracy is a contradiction of terms.
Fellow people, if you are reading this you have more freedoms then you may realize. If you think something should change, then take action, in whatever sphere of influence you have. Say something! Say anything! I’m thrilled at the ability to publish my thoughts! My heart jumps when I get a notification about someone liking my post.
So thank you. And remember, it’s cool to love your country.
Respond! Call me a fool! Or a Prophet! Say something clever! Or crack a wise ass remark! I’m all ears.