In German director Hans Weingartner’s The Edukators, the audience is taken back to the protest days of the ’60s, when three young political activists decide it is time to be part of the solution instead of the problem.
The film begins with a wealthy family returning home from vacation, only to find that their home has been broken into. The humorous part about it is that nothing has been stolen. Instead, furniture has been rearranged and a note is left behind, with the words “you have too much money.” This is the work of the Edukators, two boys whose hatred for capitalism and disgustingly wealthy people has caused them to do something about it.
The film’s creative storyline is given a documentary-style feel, since most of the filming seems to have been done with a hand-held camera. Since the film gives off this documentary-like experience, it seems as if it is trying to teach the audience, as well as entertain. With the remarkable performances by the three main characters, it makes the audience sometimes feel as if they are experiencing reality.
Jan, played by Daniel Bruhl (star of Goodbye Lenin!), is the serious one of the group and seems to have the most anger for the capitalist system. His best friend Peter is his partner in crime, while his girlfriend Julie is the one that puts a kink in their friendship.
Each character is portrayed superbly and their on-screen chemistry gives the feeling that they truly are friends. The only real problem with the storyline is that it progresses a little too slowly and the main conflict does not appear till almost an hour and a half into the story. However, writers Katharina Held and Hans Weingartner do a wonderful job developing various subplots. Between a love triangle, as well as each character’s inner conflicts, it is enough to keep the viewer sitting on the edge of their seat wanting more.
The most suspenseful part of the movie comes when the three activists decide to kidnap a wealthy businessman after he discovers Jan and Julie in his home. Together the three activists travel to a remote cabin, where they not only learn more about one another but take a liking in the suit-wearing rich man. This is only after they learn of his similar past.
Throughout the film there is an underlying theme, which is to make a change within society and that one should not create happiness in material goods. Instead one should find happiness in helping others. Overall, this makes the movie really moving because it entertains as well as teaches the audience. This is a rare quality and maybe American filmmakers should take note and attempt to follow in this German filmmaker’s footsteps.
Rosalie Yurasits can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.