Saturday, 27 June 2009

Die Welle (The Wave- 2008)

The German film, based on the 1981 American TV series, based on the American novel, based on an actual 1967 American school project/experiment. Probably much more terrifying set in a German classroom. Though I don't know... the whole idea is terrifyingly possible- well, it IS possible! It's based on a true story! I think if I'd seen an American film version I would have just dismissed it as "Dumb Americans, they would conform to the idea of fascism without questioning it!" (Ha! I'm such a racist!) So seeing German kids do it was more appalling not just because of history but because German ideals and English ideals seem similar to me, obviously there's a lot of shame involved in being German- I'm serious. But there's shame in being English too! That's why I'm so glad I have my Scottish heritage to fall back on! Whilst on a train last year with Norwegian, Irish and English pals Norway asked; "Aren't you proud of your country?" Ireland was thrilled with herself, fellow Englander and I exchanged glances and then tried to explain the shame in being English. We're warmongers. It must be great to be Irish and be so hard-done-by and wonderful to be innocent and Norwegian, but to be English and have all that history of blood... in Norway you can fly the flag, over here if you fly the flag it's a statement, you're probably a skinhead BNP member, I avoid the Union Jack like the fucking plague!!
Why was I talking about that? Oh yeah, there was a bit in the film where the very liberal girls talk about how awful it was during the world cup having all the German flags up, I just identified with this shame (though I have to say shamed though I feel to be English, I am certainly relieved I am not German!!). Anyway, I was horrified at the film because I did think that if that experiment had started at my school when I was fifteen or whatever, on the first day I probably would have gone along with it too. But Fuck! Already by Tuesday (The story took place day by day over one week) I would have gone home and asked my mum if I could go to a new school!!!
If you don't know about this film (The original 1967 project was called The Third Wave) it is very interesting but very very scary- a mindfuck I mean, there was no violence, just political-horror... As a weeklong project to educate a class of students on the subject of autocracy a teacher decides to stage a small dictatorship within the classroom. It starts off ok-ish, well, not pure Nazism, just more rules than the laid-back schoolroom had before, but as the days go by it very quickly becomes a fucking Neo-Nazi nightmare- the biggest fright being that out of fifty students only two notice that it shouldn't be like this!
The kids like the community, the direction, the pride of being a unit. I mean, I liked that we wore a uniform at my school but not (as the girls in the film sighed:) "because it's such a hassle choosing what to wear every morning," because I was a fat poor kid who only had one pair of trousers and like two tshirts!! And I certainly didn't like my uniform because it made me feel like I was in a strong group that would soon overthrow the rest of Germany! ARGH!
I kept thinking while watching it 'This is why people are in gangs.' Because the kids who got really into it were the kids who didn't have any friends or direction before The Wave and were then part of a bigger group, a community where everyone looked out for each other- but seriously, surely you'd realize 'hey this ain't so great!' when your fellow Wavers (whatever) started to censor anything bad written about them or started to kick the crap out of people who weren't wearing white shirts!! Man, it was one terrifying film, but really really good.
The question at the beginning of the project was "Could a dictatorship ever be established in Germany again?" the kids rolled their eyes, of course not, how ridiculous, we've learned. Yeah, well, in FIVE days you all went fucking nuts you fascists! How far would you as a fifteen year old stay in The Wave?
I'd be out by day two that's for friggin' sure. I look terrible in white.

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