More noise than signal

Die Welle

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

Jürgen Vogel’s high school teacher Rainer Wenger hoped to teach a project class about Anarchy, but is instead lumbered with Autocracy. Thinking of a way to spice things up rather than a series of dry lectures, he launches a movement with his class to show that dictatorships are still possible, even in as advanced a society as Germany.

Starting simply with uniforms and discipline, for a lot of the class members it’s having only a positive effect, fostering community and respect. Soon, it starts spiralling out of control, beginning with excluding non-members, and becoming increasingly worrying from there.

It’s based on a real-life experiment carried out in California, and while transplanting it to the Germany makes the comparison with the rise of fascist National Socialism a little cheap, it’s certainly effective.

It’s also the most dynamically edited movie of today’s clutch, propelling along at such a clip that the somewhat thinly drawn nature of many of the students is not as noticeable as it could be. However, the main characters the drama centres on, Jürgen Vogel and Tim, the kid who takes it all too seriously with tragic consequences, are well examined enough to let us know where they’re coming from.

It’s hampered a little by ramping up the drama towards the finale, giving a slightly unbelievable sheen to the rest of the events which are more or less true to the experiment that inspired it, but it’s not enough to dull a very enjoyable film.