Reminder: Spiritual Cinema This Saturday – The Wave

How evil are you? What are you capable of when under pressure from authority?

Please join us for Spiritual Cinema on Saturday, November17 at 7:00 PM. We will watch the motion picture, “Die Welle (The Wave)” (2008). The movie is 107 minutes and will be followed by a short discussion of some of the topics raised by the movie. This month we will be screening the movie in Fessendon Hall. Please RSVP to Dan at [email protected].

Please consider reading the following related article written by Ron Jones, the teacher who conducted the real-world social experiment in 1967 prior to the movie night:

The third wave, 1967: an account – Ron Jones

Comments by Dan:

Our next movie will examine a very difficult question, “How could the German populace claim ignorance of the slaughter of the Jewish people? How could the townspeople, railroad conductors, teachers, doctors, claim they knew nothing about concentration camps and human carnage? How can people who were neighbors and maybe even friends of the Jewish citizen say they weren’t there when it happened?” In 1967 an American teacher named Ron Jones sought to find out the answer to these questions through a social experiment in his high school class.  The movie we will watch is a fictionalized story based on those real events. The conclusion I draw from the article and movie is that the seeds for fascism are a part of the human condition and it is only through a respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every individual that we avoid dictatorship.

“You thought that you were the elect. That you were better than those outside this room. You bargained your freedom for the comfort of discipline and superiority. You chose to accept that group’s will and the big lie over your own conviction. Oh, you think to yourself that you were just going along for the fun. That you could extricate yourself at any moment. But where were you heading? How far would you have gone? Let me show you your future.” With that I switched on a rear screen projector. It quickly illuminated a white drop cloth hanging behind the television. Large numbers appeared in a countdown. The roar of the Nuremberg Rally blasted into vision. My heart was pounding. In ghostly images the history of the Third Reich paraded into the room. The discipline. The march of super race. The big lie. Arrogance, violence, terror. People being pushed into vans. The visual stench of death camps. Faces without eyes. The trials. The plea of ignorance. I was only doing my job. My job. As abruptly as it started the film froze to a halt on a single written frame. “Everyone must accept the blame No one can claim that they didn’t in some way take part.”

? Ron Jones, The Third Wave

As a bonus, here is the 1981 After-School Special that covers the same story.  The production values are much less than the German movie but this might be interesting for people who don’t like subtitles.

Description from

Germany today. During project week, a popular and unorthodox high school teacher, in an attempt to stir up his lethargic students, devises an experiment that will explain what totalitarianism is and how it works. What begins with harmless notions about discipline and community builds into a real movement: The Wave. Within days, The Wave s uniformly attired students begin ostracizing and threatening others, and violence boils just below the surface. Sensing danger, the teacher decides to break off the experiment. But it may be too late The Wave has taken on a life of its own and is out of control. Based on a true story, THE WAVE chillingly shows just how easily the seeds of fascism can be sown.

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