Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Edukators: A Rebellious Tale of Idealism and Generational Contradiction

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Jan, Peter and Jule are living out their rebellious youth. They are united by their passion to change the state of the world. Jan and Peter become The Edukators, mysterious perpetrators who non-violently warn the local rich their "days of plenty are numbered." Complications follow when vulnerable Jule ends up falling for both young men. Reckless choices result in danger. An operation gone wrong and what was never intended to be a kidnapping brings the three young idealists face-to-face with the values of the generation in power.

Hans Weingartner has made a tale of younger people who cannot accept the life that has been created for them (or conversely, that they’ve created for themselves). As a result this film looks at the issues of what has brought them to their present state, what they think they need to do about it and what are the consequences of doing something about it.

Jan (Daniel Bruhl) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) are two friends who share an apartment and break into people’s homes. They aren’t burglars however. They simply rearrange the furniture and leave a cryptic message that says ‘Your days of plenty are numbered.’ The hope is that this will get rich people to think a little more about what they have; to actually have a conscience about the fact that as they live it up, others are living in squalor. Things get complicated when Peter goes on a trip and he asks Jan to help his girlfriend Jule (Julia Jentsch) clean up her apartment from which she is being evicted. They start talking, growing closer and it is apparent that something is going to happen with them. Jule tells Jan about an accident she was in that has put her $100,000 euros in debt to wealthy business man. After talking more, Jan tells Jule about what he and Peter do and that they call themselves The Edukators

The cast of the movie was phenomenal. European actors are usually pretty solid, but in a movie with such a tiny cast, that is so dialogue heavy and it can’t rely on different locations because it mainly takes place in a log cabin, the actor’s performances are doubly impressive. At first I didn’t know how to take the character of Jan. I was sure that in some ways he was loose cannon and would ultimately be everyone’s undoing. Daniel Bruhl plays him with such a subtle tenderness, that by the end of the movie, you realize that he is the most sensible out of everyone. He is quiet yet when he talks he has big things to say. His actions are very deliberate and you always get the sense that if the situation is left up to him then everything is going to turn out just fine.

As Jule (Julia Jentsch) never plays this character as the love torn woman who can’t decide which man is best for her. You get the sense that her mind is made up and overall she just seems to be a better fit with Jan. I loved that when you saw her as a waitress, she wasn’t catty with any of the customers. She seems to be idealistic, radical but also quite aware that she does have a job to do and that that job will give her at least some money to survive.

Ultimately, I think The Edukators makes very valid points about the world and where it’s heading. People are getting tired of the constant media barrage, the medicines that take care of your problems and the way we have to work like dogs it seems without ever getting ahead. I think that overall The Edukators is a film that really has something to say. I hope it can find a large audience and I hope that younger people who would really get something from this film will be open-minded enough to give it a chance. It’s funny, in this day and age it seems like people need to know something is good before they try it. Something tells me it would be easier if rather then read reviews or council other people’s opinions, they just took a chance and believed in their own judgment. Such is the underlying themes of a movie like The Edukators.


German Film Critics Circle Award - Best Picture, Best Actress (Julia Jentsch)
European Film Academy Awards - Best Actor Nominee (Daniel Bruhl)
Cannes Film Festival - Best Picture Nominee
German Film Awards - Best Picture (Silver), Best Supporting Actor (Burghart Klaussner), Best Director Nominee (Hans Weingartner)
Bavarian Film Awards - Best Young Actress (Julia Jentsch)