There are now six movies about or inspired by the Wave class: two documentaries about the original Third Wave class, one documentary around a Spanish theater Wave production, a re-enactment of the original class, a modern update version of the Wave story, and a miniseries “inspired” by the Wave story.
The 1981 ABC-TV movie “The Wave” was produced by Norman Lear and Virginia Carter. It was originally to be part of the “ABC AfterSchool Specials” series for children, but was premiered instead on a Sunday night in prime time, on October 4, 1981 (and had a reported viewership of 17 million). It was repeated many times (including on HBO), and was a 1982 Primetime Emmy winner for Outstanding Children’s Program (also Peabody Award, and Young Artist Award). Based on the 1976 Third Wave short story by original Third Wave teacher Ron Jones, it is a re-enactment of that original class. The film is still popular in classrooms around the world, and DVDs are for sale at Amazon. The Todd Strasser (aka Morton Rhue) book “The Wave” is a novelization of this movie.
German film director Dennis Gansel and Rat Pack Filmproduktion premiered their update version of the Wave story “Die Welle” at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2008 (Jones/Neel/Hancock attended). It places the story in a present day German high school, and is a modern take on the story. Notes: Original Third Wave teacher Ron Jones has a brief cameo appearance in the film (sitting at a restaurant table during the town tagging sequence). Ron also appears in the German DVD extras, visiting the set during filming. And DVD extras also include a softer ending version of the film. Titles on DVDs in other countries include: La Ola, La Vague, L’Onada, Tehlikeli Oyun, A Onda, To Kyma, Bolgen, Fala, A Hullam, Dalga.
The documentary movie “Lesson Plan” premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival on October 10, 2010 (and screened at about 20 film festivals thereafter). It reviews the original 1967 Third Wave class, with interviews from teacher Ron Jones and several of the original Third Wave students, as well the school principal, a school board member, a parent, and others. Dr. Philip Zimbardo, creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment, provides the analysis. Lesson Plan was a 2011 CINE Golden Eagle Award winner, a 2012 Bronze Telly Award winner, and has won a number of film festival awards. The website is www.lessonplanmovie.com and the movie is often free in the US on Amazon Prime Video, as well as streaming in Europe at the journeyman.tv website. Notes: Executive Producer Philip Neel and Associate Producer Mark Hancock were both students in the original Third Wave class. Lesson Plan was funded by a generous grant from the Righteous Persons Foundation.
The documentary “La Pregunta” (The Question) by the RTVE show Cronicas is about the spring 2015 production of the play “La Ola” at the Centro Dramatico Nacional theater in Madrid, Spain, which is based on the original 1967 Third Wave class. The production is by Marc Montserrat Drukker, who collaborated with teacher Ron Jones and original students. His webpage for the show is here.
The “Wir Sind Die Welle” (We Are The Wave) German miniseries premiered on Netflix on November 1, 2019. Inspired by the Wave story, it continues the tradition of young people being caught up in their cause and getting carried away. It was produced by the same German team who did the 2008 Wave movie “Die Welle.” We are anxiously awaiting a Season 2.
On December 19, 2019, the German Crime+Investigation Channel (A&E/History Channel Productions) premiered their documentary “The Invisible Line – Die Geschichte der Welle” about the original Third Wave class. It features interviews with teacher Ron Jones, his wife Deanna, and seven of the original Third Wave students. Producer/Director/Writer Emanuel Rotstein spent a year and traveled extensively in preparation of the film. Their website is here and a blog is here.
Here is a fun Die Welle trailer parody.