Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Wave ( Die Walle )

 This is a film I had seen several years ago at the Centurty Cinema here in Napier. It is a cinema in a museum and it plays all the film-noir, classics and films aimed at a more intellectual audience. I've been going there for twenty years, but unfortunately it has shut as the museum is getting an upgrade and won't re-open until 2012.
 Every year the Century has a film festival about every August/ September annually, and they play about 25 films from around the world.
This is when I saw The Wave in 2008. I wanted to review it as I alluded to it in my review of The White Ribbon. It is one of the few German films I have seen, and the most thought provoking. Downfall was brilliant but the story of Hitler's final days are well known, but I still admire it as a film that  attempts to come with Germany's recent history.
 The Wave is a film based on a real experiment conducted in an American university in the late eighties. At its core is the seduction of fascism and its ultimate ugliness. I found this a brave movie for a German to make considering the Nazi era is so fresh in our collective memories. It is one of a raft of films that has been produced recentley from within Germany dealing with this era. The eighties were a time when American film makers made films on the Vietnam War that attempted to come to terms with that war on America. German film makers are now attempting the same type of thing and they are producing some fine cinema.
 The Wave is one of the best. Even though it is based on an American experiment the message isn't lost in the fact that this is a German film. And surely fascism never reared its ugly head so badly as it did in Nazi Germany? Sure there was Franco's Spain and Mussolini's Italy, but fascist Germany is what people associate most with when they think of fascism.
 It is interesting how a group of students can tell a teacher in his class on autocracy, 'We get it, the Nazi's sucked", and yet fall into the same seduction. It is the very point their teacher was making and yet the students still miss it. But not all. As in Nazi Germany there are dissenters who disagree with what is happening and protest, but they are ignored and swept away in the euporia of feeling better than those who don't join with them.
 And, like Nazi Germany, it starts out so well but then goes tragically wrong. It is so poignant that this is a German made film. In trying to come to terms with its past Germans have had to try and understand one fundamental point. How could it have happened? This film brilliantly exposes how easily it did. But it is not only aimed at Germans but all people. Fascism looks good, but it is in fact is a seductive evil that leaves nothing but a trail of tragedy, destruction and despair.
 I personally can not say enough about this film. It's message is crystal clear and is all the more powerful for being a German film with the German past hovering over it. It is thought provoking in the highest degree and very intelligent in its delivery. This is the sort of film I truely love. Not only because, above any other historical period interesting me more than Nazi Germany's, it delivers a message without compromise and judgement, but issues a warning.
 With German film makers who delve into this dark past of their country the key is to make a film that doesn't point the finger or blame. It is to expalin and enlighten and The Wave is an exceptional film that goes a long way in doing  this.
 Superb in its intelligent delivery of a still touchy subject, and hence unforgettable.
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