Beautifully crafted with surprising hints of humor and entertainment, Hans Weingartner’s The Edukators (2004) has successfully painted a picture of how a person—in the case of the film, Jan and Peter, “the Edukators”—cannot single-handedly change a system that they, themselves, are parts of.
The theme of the film, being political by nature, makes it relevant to today’s times, and I find myself reflecting on the seemingly norm but tragic reality that we remain powerless against a system that is designed to oppress. But, a brilliant point of the film is showcased in the introduction of the film. With furnitures scattered around the house, in places where they are not supposed to be in, it was a message by Jan and Peter: if we cannot change the system instantly, then we’ll make sure to shake the establishment for now. That is what they certainly did, and they did so using humor—a Greek statue entangled by a rope, expensive relics thrown in the toilet. This is their way of educating the elites.
A conflict arises through the persona of Jule. She has been a victim of an economically unjust system where her tiny paycheck as a waitress has to pay off a debt she got from crashing an expensive car belonging to an already rich and wealthy businessman Hardenberg. She was able to convince Jan to target Hardenberg’s house next.
The point-of-view displayed by using handheld cameras brought out a lot of elements for the film. During the break-in, it allowed the film to showcase the acting. A sense of candidness is portrayed. When Jule and Jan are breaking into Hardenberg’s house, it feels as if the I, the viewer, am part of them. As the camera follows the characters, it created a lot of depth for reflection. It put myself in the shoes of the characters.
Why did Jan agree into this? This is where principles were tested. In my opinion, the moment Jan agreed to Jule, he compromised his ideals. A seemingly innocent act, one would even think routinary, is undermined by a flawed intention of revenge, to get back on someone, and quite ironically to feel a sense of power over that person. This is where we are slowly being introduced to the concept of compromise, to the reminder that one cannot fully stand against a system, one that is so established, and all-encompassing.
This was shown in full-swing in the character of Hardenberg, upon his kidnapping. They learned that Hardenberg was a radical as well, at least years ago before he succumbed to society’s requirements and necessities. He got himself a good job, married, and has abandoned his ideals since. The material of the film reflected a gravitating trend in today’s society where a lot of people, once soldiers of their beliefs who would blatantly resist the status quo, will simply fade into the society they once tried to change.
All in all, despite the laughs and gaggle caused by what might pass as light moments in the film, its message remains consistent and constant throughout the very long screening time; the beautiful but tragic showing of the challenges of being a principle-based self in a society this complex.