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The Wave Movie Analysis


The Wave was a short film created to explain the history of German Nazis, Hitler, and The Holocaust. It is meant to show the threats of dictatorship and peer pressure that can harm society and endanger everyone.

Main Theme and Message:

Alexander Grasshoff tries to grab the attention of his audience with the spectacular nature of the film and how it introduces the concept of peer pressure and autocratic leadership in a new form that is new to the viewers. The central theme is about the fascism existing in Nazi Germany and how most people did not react to the wrongdoings, which can be applied to any generation and any global situation, where people in the pressure of conformity don’t stand against bullying, racism, discrimination, harassment, and terrorism.


I had never seen the movie The Wave (1981) before, even though it is well-known for its excellent cinematography and plot. The film can be considered a thriller for its shocking turns and twists. What I found surprising was the appalling obedience of the high school students. At the beginning of the film, it is expected to take a predictable approach toward the topic.

Mr. Ross, the high school teacher, presents his students with a documentary based on the Hitler holocaust and Nazi Germany. He soon realizes that this isn’t enough material to answer the intelligent questions of his students. Therefore, he initiates an experiment to show his students the power of dictatorship, autocratic leadership, peer pressure, and conformity.

The concept of conformity is explained through how all high school students follow the instructions of their professors in order to avoid being ostracized and left out by their classmates.

He begins by portraying to the students how they can be more disciplined and organized through unity and conformation. He titles his new experiment as “The Wave.” Soon, he realizes that the students follow his instructions as he is loved by most of them while others are threatened to be a part of the campaign. With this theory, the director shows a distinct way of how Hitler and no one directed Nazi Germany stood against the cruel activities that took place.

The short film brilliantly outlines the features of the culture at the time of Nazi Germany and human nature. It also reflects on today’s world and how this attitude towards peer pressure can influence the mindset of many individuals, which can lead to aggressive behaviour towards each other and silence against wrongdoings happening around you.

The Wave teaches a great lesson to its audience through the display of the threat of conformity and the problem with peer pressure. It also shows how dictatorship and autocratic leadership styles can exist in every era if appropriately applied and the damage they can cause to the people.

The concept can be applied to modern-day considering the ignorance against racism, bullying, and terrorism in our society. Students often avoid reporting any form of racism and bullying against them for fear that they will be considered weak and ostracized by their friends.

The Waves used an emotional bond, peer pressure, and pride to exploit the minds of the high school students. It is very effective when it comes to controlling the minds of innocent students. This also shows how a small group can be successful in its aim through effective communication and organized behaviour. The film has adopted many concepts of effective communication, peer pressure, conformity, and leadership styles to convey its message.



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