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Film review: The Edukators

category national | arts and media | opinion/analysis author Saturday May 07, 2005 18:43author by James R

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
No longer in the IFI but still in UGC

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. ( Anyone know if this has been released or screened anywhere over here yet?

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