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Search author name words: James R

Film review: The Edukators

category national | arts and media | opinion/analysis author Saturday May 07, 2005 18:43author by James R Report this post to the editors

Just Shoot Him Please and Let Me Go Home.

The Edukators comes bundled with enough hype and hope to prompt you into the IFI of an evening instead of lazily borrowing from your mates pirated DVD collection. Billed in reviews left, right and centre as an exposition of the political angst of a generation, the film provides a brief glance into the lives of Jan, (Daniel Bruhl), Peter, (Stipe Erceg) and Jule, (Julia Jentsch). Together they are three radicalised young Berliners, coping with the alienation of daily life in the city.
Promo Image For The Film
Promo Image For The Film

Jule lives the emblematic existence of a young worker, stuck in dead end jobs and a shit bedsit, where the only comfort is the possibility of getting the deposit back. She has a double jeopardy, working practically indentured to pay back €100,000 to some non specific company executive who's beamer she wrote off in a car crash years before.

Jan meanwhile is the archetypal rebel, crucified with an insight into the woes of capitalism that he shares with Peter. Together the pair have come up with one way to break down the drudgery of life under the system. Staking out gaffs in rich neighbourhoods, they await opportunities to break in and chaotically re-arrange the furniture, always leaving a note behind with 'your days of plenty are over.' Its a sublime terrorism designed to play on the minds of the mansion's owners, leaving their heads wrecked with paranoia, the note whispering at them in bank queues and work as they grovel in guilt over their own affluence. This talent makes them The Edukators.

Jule also has the misfortune to go out with Peter. A character with all the dynamism of a shop mannequin, he smacks of bohemian twats around George's Street, convinced their own posing is a cultural event. His illusions towards being a DJ sees him piss off to Barcelona for his 'big break' leaving Jan to help Jule move out of her bedsit. Big mistake. After listening to Jan's political rantings on her indentured servitude she trashes the bedsit. Over pasta, wine and spliff she gets over her previous wariness of his intensity and falls into his bed. When she gets fired after standing up for a work mate, Jan initiates her into the Edukators. In an obvious twist, they stumble upon her creditor, Hardenberg’s (Burghart Klaussner – also appeared in Good Bye Lenin! with Bruhl) abanndoned chalet. Pissed on champagne and a desire to exorcise years of paying off damage to one of his toys, she wrecks the house. To cut a shit film short, Hardenberg discovers them as the pair return the next night to rescue her lost mobile. Calling Peter in, the trio end up kidnapping their class enemy and shed the city for the mountains as the thriller mounts.

The film has been lauded in some reviews as an anti-globalisation polemic, in a shallow attempt to contextualise it as the spawn of current political movements. As Weingartner explains, "Nothing is ever stolen and no-one ever gets hurt. Yet what they do constitutes an attack on other people's lives. 'Edukating' is a humorous way of getting back at the rich. Jan and Peter are political activists and they are acting out a form of poetic resistance." There is one scene early on where Jules engages in some anti-sweat leafleting, but of the main characters, she’s the only one political active in an immediate sense, the other two just bemoan the passivity of their generation while doing little else. There is no latent propaganda value in their actions, only one newspaper picks up on their stunts. The film has been described as ‘the ultimate crimthinc film’ but even that is being a tad unfair to lifestylism. There’s little in the way of the revolution of every day life in this film, and probably just a lot of rich homeowners shouting at their maids about the arseholes who thrashed the gaff. If the film was ever meant to have any political intent or propaganda value then I imagine it was sucked out by a German version of that studios bloke from the Heinekien ads. What you’re left with is a political dialogue assembled from protest placards and the blurb on Naomi Klein books providing a very shoddy cover for a love story. As a German movie that inadvertently explores how the idealism of one generation collapses, it echoes much of the theme of “What To Do In Case Of Fire”, a film about a number of former autonomist squatters turned professionals who are forced to re-engage with their youthful idealism after a bomb they planted finally explodes a decade on. In that film the sympathetic relationship revolves around an anarchist who refuses to let go of his idealism, and the head of Special Branch who also clings to the politics of the eighties. The message of both movies really is that today’s revolutionaries are tomorrows reactionaries.

With a political edge about as blunt as a rabbit eared scissors, there’s not much else going for the film. Any sympathy established with Jan when he stands up to a tram inspector on behalf of a homeless bloke is lost as the director crudely batters home the point that he is a rebel repeatedly. The break in scenes do provide a hint of tension, but mostly that comes from watching the gormless fools do everything in their power to get caught in their own idiotic subversion of Robin Hood. When it emerges Hardenberg has his own history as a radical as part of the ‘68 generation empathy dramatically switches to him. Then the movie really begins to drag, with the generation gap between the kidnappers and kidnapped closing over grass and shite talk of the “My dad used to say that if you’re under 30 and you’re not a liberal, you have no heart, and if you’re over 30 and you’re still a liberal, you have no brain” variety. At this stage you feel like shouting “shoot the bastard” just so you can get the fuck out of the cinema. But the love story, its impact on Peter and the decision of what do over Hardenberg drag on. Then Jeff Buckley's rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah swings in with a violent bloody axe to smash the tears out of your face. The rest of the unpalatable soundtrack seems like the product of a focus group, made up of Placebo, Franz Ferdinand and god save us Muse. If there is one saving grace, there were some “interesting” shots through security camera real early on, so save your self the hassle and catch these in the trailer below or check out the CCTV Station in your local Tesco.

Trailers are availible at http://www.theedukators.com/
No longer in the IFI but still in UGC http://www.ugccinemas.co.uk/reservation/ChoixResa.jgi?FILM=21615&COMPARER_HORAIRES=O

I've been told I've been rather cruel to this film, so what did others think?

On a side note a film that seems really worth cheking out is This Revolution, set against the backdrop of the RNC in New York. (http://www.gnn.tv/videos/video.php?id=29). Anyone know if this has been released or screened anywhere over here yet?

author by Eoin Gpublication date Sat May 14, 2005 14:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I actually liked the film. I didn't go to see it as an activist film or manifesto or anything like that, just a bit of entainment. And it did entertain me.

author by Conor - MAB UCDpublication date Thu May 12, 2005 18:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Doing exams, so here is the quick response.

I think Its great that people at protests have cameras and other media (i.e. this site) with which to throw it out there - as you say, so we dont rely on RTE or C4 to bring it out 20 years later when its grainy enough to be seen as "harmless beatings" or whatever by the general public. Ive not yet been impressed with any "edutainment" type feature length films I've seen coming from any media source - be it warners funding a baseballed hat "american reporter man" (M.Moore) right the way accross to the "crustie and final cut pro" releases.

The main reason is personal - I dont like being sat down for a lecture thrrough cinema. I dont seek out explicit "political" or "activist" films - be they on this site or in the cinema , although I sometimes click on here and sometimes (i.e. with the edukators) do so in "mainstream" sources too. maybe im not seeking out the good stuff - but as I say, even if it were there, I dont think I'd be too interested anyhow. Its a personal thing.

author by Hoodpublication date Mon May 09, 2005 17:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Da what - is dis 4 real?

author by James R - UCD 'Wespect.publication date Mon May 09, 2005 16:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you're criticising films from activist circles, I'd be interested to hear which ones you thought were good and which were shit. There is a huge range, some of the ones Irish indymedia heads have produced are beutiful examples of a genre of film making that really just seeks to cut across the mass media's purposeful blindspot and can in one way be considered as news reels with brief counter hegemonic purposes. Others unfortunately descend into riot porn, which can have its value, but at this stage I've seen enough of them to last me a lifetime. I', thinking of soem oens from Greece a friend lent me. The highlight was a zoom in on a piece of grafitti on the wall of an occupied university building with 'its not anarchism if a punk can't shit in your mouth.'

Some of the better activisty films I've seen of late have been the Fourth World War, which is a stunning piece work codifying diverse struggles at a global level into one film that leaves you coming away with a real sense that yes, we are every where. The Miami Model is also an excellant film about the states criminalisation of dissent around Summit Protests, probably a must see for anyone going to the G8.

I'd also be rather slow to rush to criticsie crusties playing with mac editing programmes. Fortunately thanks to this DIY ethic and the availibility of suitably cheap or pirated software, movements and social struggles are infinitely more capable of recording and documenting their own events than those in the past were. For example, Id imagine if there were a few crusties with video software and digicams at the Battle of Orgreave we wouldn't be so reliant on say Channel Four or the BBC to dish out unreleased footage twenty years later or to evetually own up to their own level of bias during these struggles.


author by Conor - Respect Coalition - UCDpublication date Sat May 07, 2005 19:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Its a while since I saw this,and I cant really remember much-which says a lot really. I thought it would be pretty funny, a king mob type effort - but the "political" edge was a bit hazy, and it did indeed drag on toward the end.

I diddnt really expect it (a relatively mainstream film) to have a "hard edge" , and dont really enjoy video-education in any case- I just thought that if you were to actually do a film on people with situationist tendancies, you could at least make it a lot funnier.

On another note: Ive never been impressed by home-edited leftist edu-tainment. On one extreme you have stuff thats good to look at, slick, prefessional, and usually lacking killer punch. On the other hand you have crusties with video cameras and a mac editing programme, and not a fucking notion of how to piece anything enjoyable AND constructive together.

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