15 - 107mins - Drama/Thriller - 19th September 2008
A foreign film today all the way from Germany that takes a look into autocracy and dictatorship but with a slight twist- it is set in a school.
Loosely based on the true experiment undertaken by a history teacher in the USA during 1967 which was then written as a book, the film follows unorthodox high school teacher Rainer Wenger (Jürgen Vogel) as he is forced to teach autocracy rather than his preferred choice of anarchy during a school project week in modern day Germany. Deciding that a more hands on approach would help stimulate the uninterested students, he engages with his class in an attempt to show that under certain circumstances the potential for a dictatorship is not as far fetched as some of the students believe it to be. He is elected as a leader by the class and begins to enforce the rules required for an autocracy. The students take to the project emphatically and the experiment soon begins to spiral out of control.
Parts of the film shout out stereotypical teen school and if anything the social groupings are played upon even more than usual as the writers use these differences to enhance the eventual unity that is required for a dictatorship to form. They are not necessarily exaggerated but we are continually reminded 'look, these kids are different from those ones' when this fact is rather obvious from the start and does not need emphasis.
Being based in Germany there are obvious references to the Nazi regime and this is unsurprisingly brought up during the movie as a theme. It gives the emotions that extra edge and enhances the plot making it easier to believe that something like this could happen again.
The film becomes more sinister as it progresses and manages to deliver a heavy topic for discussion in a very involved and entertaining fashion getting you to think into the chances of something like this happening, how it would happen and would you be dragged in under a similar scenario? It manages to achieve this without preaching it's message as well which I always approve of.
In summation, this is a good foreign movie that is able to make you forget that it's being spoken in German and lets you concentrate on the story. I'm always impressed when a foreign film can do this and so the scriptwriters must be complemented along with the rest of the crew for making it possible. The acting is good from all involved, I really appreciated the cinematography and it got me thinking. A solid film all-around.