Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Film Education: The Wave
Today I was at the Cameo cinema in Edinburgh to take part in an event organised by Film Education as part of National Schools Film Week. I introduced a screening of The Wave, the 2008 film from German director Dennis Gansel, for a group of about 40-50 secondary school students, and also led a brief discussion with them after the film. I've been wanting to get involved in doing things like this for a while, so when Film Education got in touch with me I jumped at the chance.
The screening seemed to go very well, and it was evident from their contributions to the post-screening discussion that most of the pupils (all 4th-6th years) had really engaged with the film while they were watching it, and picked up on Gansel's intentions. The Wave is actually a great film with which to introduce mainstream cinema-goers to foreign language films, as it is fast-paced and stylishly shot, but there's real substance beneath its flashy surfaces. It focuses on a schoolteacher who decides to teach his students about autocracy by running the class according to the principles of a fascist regime, and explores the way in which this project affects everyone involved. The story is based on a novel that was itself based on a real event – or experiment – that a teacher called Ron Jones did with his students in a California high school in 1967, and the results that we see in the film are quite disturbing, and apparently very similar to what happened in the real life situation.
I think it's great that Film Education put these screenings on for free for schools, as they very effectively present film as being much more than just a 'switching-off' form of entertainment for the audiences who come along. This is important for the generation that's growing up right now, as they are constantly bombarded with entertainment purely for its own sake. It was evident from my experience today that young people will gladly embrace film for its potential to provoke discussion and allow them to see the world through fresh eyes, and I'm keen to be involved in encouraging that kind of film-watching wherever possible.
Here is a great Guardian article on the real event that The Wave is based on.
Here's my original review of The Wave on futuremovies.co.uk, although I think I have less of a problem with its 'based-on-truth' claims now than I seemed to then!