your days of plenty are over

It’s easy for me to decide that The Edukators was my favorite film we dealt with in this class. The way it melded its elements together—the musical direction led by artists like Franz Ferdinand and Jeff Buckley, the landscape provided by the view of the Alps, its dialogue between socialist and capitalist messages, and their light insertions of romance and humor, all these played wonderfully in the film. More than anything, this film manages to remain relevant through its portrayal of economic activism and revolution as a silent war between the poor and the rich—a war that is still continuing to this day.

From a surface level, Weinggartner’s film focuses on three friends, the Edukators, who break into rich people’s houses and take one of the owners hostage to prevent him from revealing their truths. It would seem like The Edukators would be a violent film, but it actually tackled the discourse between youthful idealism and older pragmaticism very peacefully. Jan and Peter’s method doesn’t involve theft nor violence, but rather to move furniture around—a creative manifesto that forces isolated rich people, detached from reality, to see how their greed has hurt other people. But I can’t help but call into question their modus operandi. Is this technique the best one to push for their cause, or is it just a superfluous method? Though their movement managed to disturb the rich, did it, as implied by their alias, educate them?

The director, Weinggartner, also used his own experience during his time as a former activist to convey his message. We can see snippets of this in his use of storytelling for Hardenberg to really show a genuine experience. For instance, Hardenberg’s life is a great example of how someone, even a rebellious student, can subtly fall into the practices and lifestyles he is against. For Hardenberg, and many other people, he started to see the changes as a necessity (for his safety, for his family), until all of a sudden, he became the person he was, at some point, so infuriated by.

Despite its heavy implications on political and socialist movements, The Edukators still managed to be a comedic film that places value on relationships, both romantic and platonic. The love story between Jan and Jule provides a sort of side story, of a man who falls in love with his best friend’s girlfriend. This love triangle is similar to the one portrayed in A Woman is a Woman, though played a lot more realistically than the French musical. But it becomes a sore point for the trio, especially when it gets in the way of how they go about their mission to get themselves out of the mess they created. Obviously, the film holds many similar political semblance as Daniel Bruhl’s other film he starred in, Good Bye, Lenin!, but it varies in that it places importance on this friendship and their measures of action, contrary to Good Bye, Lenin!

The film also shows scenes of the Alps and the landscape surrounding it. This homage to culture is also seen in Trollhunter’s portrayal of the Norwegian landscape and L’Avventura’s scenes shot all around Italy. More importantly, these three films’ use of landscape indicates an element of isolation, a choice to be away from reality and civilization. Overall, The Edukators’ acts on a socialist message designed not just for Germans, but all people, through its use of storytelling, art, and love.

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