Archive for October 21st, 2008

The Wave (Die Welle)

October 21, 2008

It must be difficult being German sometimes; moving on from the atrocities that dominated much of your country’s history in the last century whilst being respectful enough never to forget the lessons that were learnt. How many generations must offer remuneration before it feels like an inherited debt? How many populations must profess guilt before resenting the act? How many children must apologise for the sins of the fatherland before living memory passes on?

It’s an interesting subject, and one that cinematically Germany has only recently begun to address. The Edukators, Goodbye Lenin, The Lives of Others and Downfall are just four of the films that look at the behaviour and fallout of Germany’s turbulent political actions in the 20th Century, told from the perspective of a nation coming to terms with its fascistic heritage.

The Wave is another of those films and looks at how, only three generations later, the nations youth are already desensitised to the atrocities of the second world war and the political misdirections of the post war years. ‘The Nazis sucked’ states one bling-clad student before he is swiftly indoctrinated by a class autocracy project gone wrong – ‘we get it’.

The Teacher is one of those hip teachers that only exist in movies; a Ramones loving punk, a leather-sporting smoker whose anarchic spirit never left him – despite a career of enthusing bored teenagers with politics. Teaching an autocracy project and shocked at the disinterest of the students, he creates a class gang called ‘The Wave’ and begins to demonstrate how easily tribal allegiances can be formed and how quickly fascistic characteristics can form.

He’s a fantastic teacher, because within two days he already has his autonomous gang of Droogs wearing identical uniforms, making MySpace pages with gang logos and terrorizing the town with a campaign of graffiti and aggressive hood wearing. Despite several prior scenes where the students quite aptly discussed the societal requirements of a rise to the right – financial upheaval, low unemployment, influx of immigrants etc – they abandon all intellectual interpretation of what is happening and instead embrace their new found mass because, like, it means they don’t get picked on at school, n’stuff

Before you can say “Disturbing Behaviour was just a rip off of The Stepford Wives” the Wave starts swelling in ranks, starts buying guns off the internet, starts picking fights with hilariously-dressed anarchists and starts organising support for the water polo team. By the third day the whole Breakfast Club has been swallowed – the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess and the criminal – all revelling in the positive effects of mass uniformity.

Had the film tried to be more of a parable, staying within the confines of the school, it could have been much more interesting. Had it used the natural hierarchy of high school as a metaphor for society, or been more of a satire, it could have worked better.

As it stands it plays more like a horror film, where fascism lurks in the shadows, ready to pounce on any slightly disenfranchised teenager who feels the warmth of acceptance. It feels like the inverse of Red Dawn, where uniformity parachutes into the classrooms of a resting nation.

At the end, the teacher reveals that it was just a lesson, an example of how easily people can be lead towards fascism. Of course by now it’s now too late, the Wave are an autonomous mass of upheaval, calling for a conquering Germany and stringing up those who oppose them. A class project lasting six days has united a school and turned mallrats into an army… the audience gasp… the lesson has backfired… fascism has occurred again… the horror… the horror…

It’s a profoundly silly film – well-meaning and with some good ideas but ruined by a ridiculous timeframe and an over-simplified idea. What was initially an interesting debate soon turned into a version of the Blob, where the children fight a quite literal political enemy and not just a metaphoric political enemy that looks like a giant blob from outer space.

There’s still room out there for a really good movie about how the new generation of German youth view their country’s history, but this isn’t it. This is a quite entertaining, but accidentally funny horror film with good intentions, but very little self-awareness.

Newsgush – Total Recall

October 21, 2008

In our irregular, slightly unpopular news item we take a little look at Marketing magazine’s Adwatch feature, this time dated 15th October. And what a cracker it is this time around.

So – if you’ll do us the honour of casting your mind back – you’ll remember Adwatch gathers information from those rotten swines, the general public. Then –using computers – it figures out which ads are more easily recalled in the empty, addled and simple minds of the unwashed masses (that’s us).

Let’s have a look at the Top 5. At this point, please imagine ‘The Wizard’ by Paul Hardcastle playing in the background. Or click here if your imagination is feeble. 

5.) Greggs
I don’t actually remember ever seeing an ad for Greggs appear on my TV. I’m finding it difficult to believe they actually advertise, as the Greggs near my manor is essentially a doss-house for crackheads and ageing ladies of the night. Every time I walk past, it’s scattered with the flaking imagery of the Hackney undead. Perhaps they’re attracted by the delicious cream horns.

4.) Subway
Balls to Subway and their revolting food. Have you ever been in one?
It’s ridiculous. You stand in a queue and go along on a meet-and-greet with the chain-gang employees (no doubt being paid tiny peanuts) trying not to be pernickety about how many kernels of corn you want in your ridiculously elongated bap. If you ask for steak and cheese, they put a small tray containing a mass of what genuinely resembles bum-pickings into a microwave. It’s deeply unappetising. I can’t recall the advert.

3.) Hovis
Again – this one’s gone straight over my head – if I’ve ever seen it. Do people really buy bread based on an advert? I can’t say I’ve ever seen a loaf on TV and made a mental note to purchase one the next day at dawn. There are too many other thoughts banging around my brain like ‘if I don’t do some work in the office tomorrow I will get fired‘, ‘they should, one day, make a gameshow with a skyscraper made out of jenga blocks‘ and of course, the perpetual repeat-playing of the question ‘have I got a terminal disease?‘.

2.) Marks & Spencer
That’s more like it! Of course I remember this. M&S have pulled off the trick of putting a piece of crumpet in their advert, running around in her underwear again. The fact they do this every single time means this is a successful campaign. I like the fact that, in the new one, she’s running around a fairground in her smalls. If she’d tried that in any of the travelling fairs I attended as a child she’d have promptly been dragged off to a dark area behind a lorry by the feral-looking monster who ran the waltzers. Someone should have a word with that naughty French siren – and I’m volunteering.

1.) Confused.com

ARGH. AAAAARGH. AAAAAAAAARGH!
This advert makes me want to kill, maim and die. dot com. Lobotomised spectres walk around a white nothingness.com, containing only badly rendered cardboard-cutouts.com painted by children.com. It makes me confused.com and I can’t bear it. (dot com)

So there we have it. Once again, we see that the adverts we remember are, on the whole, the ones that…

a.) make us want to kill, or
b.) show us perfect-looking ladies running around in their pants.