The Wave (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Wave2011

The Wave (2011)



Critic Consensus: Based on a true story, though relocated to Germany, this thought provoking film has an interesting premise, but suffers through a lack of believability.

The Wave Photos

Movie Info

Germany today. During a project week, high school teacher Rainer Wenger (Jurgen Vogel) comes up with an experiment in order to explain to his students how totalitarian governments work. A role-playing game with tragic results begins. Within a few days, what began as harmless notions, like discipline and community, builds into a real movement: The Wave. By the third day, the students start ostracizing and threatening others. When the conflict finally erupts into violence at an intramural water polo game, the teacher decides to break off the experiment. But it's too late. The Wave is out of control... -- (C) IFC

Watch it now


Jürgen Vogel
as Rainer Wenger
Frederick Lau
as Tim Stoltefuss
Christiane Paul
as Anke Wenger
View All

News & Interviews for The Wave

Critic Reviews for The Wave

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (9)

The Wave is top-heavy and light-footed, racing its winning idea-that fascism can still be attractive to some, even in modern Germany-past itself.

June 3, 2011 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

"The Wave" feels overdetermined and ploddingly dramatized.

May 26, 2011 | Rating: 2.5/5

It's a strong film but in the end a rather obvious one.

September 19, 2008 | Rating: 3/5

As it bounds along with its pumping rock playlist, you start to realise that the movie is predictable and slightly scared, and that it doesn't really make sense.

September 19, 2008 | Full Review…

Here is the winner of this week's No Shit Sherlock award: a prime example of the kind of film dead set on telling you what you know already.

September 19, 2008 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

It's an interesting and provocative idea somewhat marred by wretched performances from several of the kids and the same whiff of sanctimony and naivety that made The Edukators, another tiresomely right-on film from Germany, such a trial.

September 19, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Wave

Even if based on real events, it is a bit hard to believe that everything that we see here would happen so fast; still, this is a thought-provoking film about people's terrifying disposition to let themselves be seduced by a fascist-like autocracy that could take root in any society.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Despite its jumpy stylistical choices, which clearly serve to appeal young viewers into the story, it deals with an extremely serious subject matter that will trigger very important social and moral discussions

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer


Based on actual events. Although the actual experiment took place in Palo Alto, California, this film takes place in Germany. A teacher decides to undertake a project in his class where his students believe that a dictatorship can never happen in Germany ever again. For the week, the teacher declares himself dictator, and becomes the ruling leader of his newly established group. Before he knows it, however, his students have taken the project outside of school grounds, and extend fascism into the hands of unwilling participants. The project soon gets out of control. Although greatly exaggerated at times, one has to remember that the film is based from 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. I recommend checking this link out: explains the actual experiment. Really good film here!!

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

The Wave Quotes

News & Features