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A high school teacher's unusual experiment to demonstrate to his students what life is like under a dictatorship spins horribly out of control when he forms a social unit with a life of its own.
Release Year: 2008
Rating: 7.5/10 (24,512 voted)
Stars: Jürgen Vogel, Frederick Lau, Max Riemelt
Storyline High school teacher, Rainer Wegner, may be popular with the students, but he's also unorthodox. He's forced to teach autocracy for the school's project week. He's less than enthusiastic at first, but the response of the students is surprising to say the least. He forces the students to become more invested in the prospect of self rule, and soon the class project has its own power and eerily starts to resemble Germany's past. Can Wegner and his class realize what's happening before the horrors start repeating themselves?
Writers: Dennis Gansel, Todd Strasser
Cast: Jürgen Vogel
Cristina do Rego
(as Maximilian Mauff)
Tim Oliver Schultz
Opening Weekend: $3,151,023
(16 March 2008)
(4 May 2008)
Did You Know?
Much like Napola, the film was partly inspired by Gansel's grandfather who Gansel had a lot of fights with when young because the grandfather used to tell him he was supportive of the nazi government when they where in power. It was not until Gansel's grandfather told him about his ambitions of becoming an artist, but because his family was poor he ended up joining the National Political Academy (NAPOLA). Gansel understood that the lure of fascism was all about seduction and psychology. This laid the basis for the film and its themes.
Although set somewhere in western Germany, all policemen wear insignia of the state of Berlin.
Fascism is Only A Few Missteps Away
An amiable German social sciences teacher has to teach his children
about an autocratic government. The children at first seem bored, not
wanting to hear any more about The Third Reich and Nazism. The teacher
is surprised. "We're too knowledgeable to ever fall into something like
that again," say the students. The teacher then decides to show the
children what it's like to live in an autocracy, and sets up a simple
experiment in class. They elect a leader (him) and he begins to instill
in them (merely as an example) the virtues and practices that accompany
an autocracy ("Strength through discipline", "Work as one"). The
students take to it, and become obsessed with it. Soon, what was a
simple classroom experiment grows to a social entity all it's own, with
the teacher not sure if he can reverse the effects.
The film was very well acted and written, and was seriously creepy. It
showed how - easily a society could fall into fascism, if presented to
the society in the correct way. Watching the film, I understood why the
students enjoyed the new system, but was also privy to the horrors that
come with it. A shocking and powerful film. The way the different
children reacted and how such a seemingly innocent experiment
profoundly affected their lives was incredible and horrifying. Vogel
gives a powerful performance as an idealistic teacher who isn't aware
of the influence he has on others. Worth seeing.