Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Edukators

Originally Written and Posted at on 5/18/08 w/ Additional Edits.

Directed by Hans Weingartner, Die Fetten Jahre Sinde Vorbei ("the fat years are over") or in its international title The Edukators, the film is about three anti-capitalist radicals who decides to break into the homes of rich people and vandalize them. When they break into one house, they meet a rich businessman who catches them in the act as they kidnap as they go into a game of wits and passion against the businessman. Written by Weingartner and Katharina Held, the film is an exploration about the tension between generations and classes. Starring Daniel Bruhl, Julia Jentsch, Stipe Erceg, and Burghart Klaussner. The Edukators is a thrilling yet provocative film from Hans Weingartner.

With protests emerging in Berlin as youths rally against the capitalist democracy of its own country, two young men named Jan (Daniel Bruhl) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) are doing their part as a rag-tag group of hooligans known as the Edukators. By day, they do odd jobs to make a living but at night in their van, they break into the homes of rich people, rearrange furniture, steal nothing, overflow pools, and leave a message that represents their manifesto and hatred of the rich. Meanwhile, Peter's girlfriend Jule (Julia Jentsch) is dealing with a lot of money trouble. Having been evicted from her apartment and about to lose her deposit if she doesn't repaint her apartment, Jule moves in with Peter and Jan while still working as a waitress in a posh restaurant. Jule is also dealing with a debt that she has to pay over a car accident that involved a rich man and his Mercedes. When Peter has to go out of town for a trip to Spain, he asks Jan to help Jule out in repainting her apartment for her deposit. Jan sympathizes with Jule's financial troubles as she herself, is a protester against capitalism. Immediately, they become close as Jan lets her in on a secret as she learns that he's part of the Edukators gang.

When she decides to see what he does, she finds the home of Mr. Hardenberg (Burghart Klaussner), the man whose debt she's paying. The two break in as they do all of the things he and Peter does where the two suddenly fall for each other. Things seem to go great until Jules walks out of the house and an alarm goes off as she and Jan leave the house. Peter returns from Spain as Jule learns she left her cell phone at Hardenberg's home. Jan, Peter, and Jule go out on a night of the town as their night ends early. Jan and Jule decide to go back to Hardenberg's home to clean up evidence and fine Jule's cell phone. Suddenly, Hardenberg arrives early from his vacation as he catches Jule where Jan knocks him out unconsciously. Realizing they’re in trouble, they call Peter to help them out as they realize they have to leave the city with Hardenberg as their hostage. They drive to the German mountains to a remote cabin that belonged to Jule's uncle. The young trio and Hardenberg stay in the cabin as they talk to the rich businessman as they immediately get into a discussion over idealism and capitalism.

Yet, Hardenberg is revealed to be a former member of an idealist group in the late 60s but tells them that revolutions become short-lived when marriage and family came into the picture. With Peter becoming a bit paranoid and carrying a gun, Jan and Jule agree that Hardenberg should be treated with care and respect as he was given a chance to make a phone call in a nearby village. When Peter learns of Jan and Jule's attraction towards each other, everything begins to change as do their idealism as Jan wonders if the revolution that he's fought for is really worth living.

The film is essentially about political revolution and idealism through different generations and such. Yet, director Hans Weingartner and co-writer Katharina Held create a story that is more about how young people deal with their own ideas of revolution only to deal with a man who they assume is rich yet unaware of his own revolutionary past. The film's script is wonderfully written where the film's first half is about the introduction of the Edukators and their antics and then the second half is their escape and seclusion in the mountains. While the pacing in the second half does lag a bit, Weingartner's subtle yet observant direction is wonderful and also intimate for the four major to interact with each other.

The direction also works in its energy in the film's first half where it's shot on location in Berlin as Weingartner creates amazing compositions and framing while leaving everything a bit looser for the film's second half. Particularly with hand-held cameras that brings energy to the film in its sense of excitement as well as an array of humor and comedy. The result is a solid film that is entertaining and provocative from the mind of its director Hans Weingartner.

Cinematographers Matthias Schellenberg and Daniela Knapp do amazing work with the film's camera work from the colorful, stylish lighting for the film's interior and exterior night scenes in Berlin to the colorful, atmospheric look of the German mountains that has a natural yet loose feel that is gorgeous to watch. Editors Dirk Otelshoven and Andreas Woodraschke bring a great sense of style to the film's cutting with its rhythmic use of jump cuts in the film's first half to more slower yet rhythmic cuts for the film's second half to maintain a sense of pacing and style. Art director Christian M. Goldbeck does a great job in creating different looks to the homes of the Edukators and Hardenberg where the former features posters and such while Hardenberg's home is filled with a lot of posh things and a pool.

Costume/make-up designer Sylvia Pernegger is excellent in that same contrast in the art direction with the look of t-shirt and jeans of the Edukators to the rich clothing of Hardenberg. Sound designer Uwe Dresch with mixer Bernhard Maisch and sound recordist Stefan Soltau do a wonderful job in the sound work to contrast the differing atmospheres of Berlin and the German mountains that plays well to the tone of the film. Music composer Andreas Wodraschke creates a moody yet hypnotic electronic score that is sometimes filled with pulsating beats or sometimes quiet in the film's second half. The soundtrack is a mix of techno, German folk, and metal along with a haunting cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah by the late Jeff Buckley.

The casting by Silke Koch and Suse Marquardt is superb for its casting of extras and local actors in various parts. Yet, the film really belongs to its four principle actors. Veteran actor Burghart Klaussner is superb as a former idealist-turned-yuppie who becomes hostage as he's forced to confront his own lifestyle and his own past while trying to understand the Edukators' own political stance. Stipe Erceg is excellent as Peter, an anti-capitalist who is unaware of Jan's attraction to Jule only to take matters into his own hands when dealing with Hardenberg while trying to figure out his own role as a revolutionary.

Julia Jentsch is amazing as the frustrated Jule who turns to radicalism while getting Jan and Peter in trouble over a reckless thing. Jentsch is superb for her energy and compassion as well as an amazingly, natural beauty around her. Daniel Bruhl is brilliant as Jan, an unpredictable yet charismatic revolutionary who falls for Jule while forced to confront his own role and future as Bruhl's subtle performance is truly one to watch.

The Edukators is a wonderfully stylish yet entertaining film from director Hans Weingartner. With great performances from Daniel Bruhl, Julia Jentsch, Stipe Erceg, and Burghart Klaussner, it's a film that has a lot of energy, great discussions on politics and idealism, and interesting characters. In the end, The Edukators is an excellent film that deals with young revolutionaries trying to change the world only to find change in themselves.

© thevoid99 2014

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