I find it hard to talk about The Edukators because I feel like I am somehow still undecided on my opinions of the film. I have a love-hate relationship with its characters and I feel like I am always going to be torn on whether it delivered its political commentaries well.
I want to start with the things that I like about the movie. I feel like deep down, despite my acceptance of how society is already, the ideas that Jan, Jule, and Peter have are thoughts that I also have. The truth in what they say is heartbreaking especially when you know it yourself and when you completely agree. But not having the same will and courage to fight for that chance of change in society makes me admire the characters. Even the complexity of Hardenberg’s character, who was swallowed by the system but had the same idealogies before deliver an important, powerful, revolutionary message. The movie fully encapsulates what it’s like to live in an era of frustration and seeing things that are deeply dysfunctional in society but the inadequacy of being able to do anything about it.
The film also looks as if it’s been filmed using a phone camera, but it works so well on how unvarnished the film feels just like how its characters and their understanding of their ideologies and decisions to act are also underdone. The camera feels like a voyeur or a documentation of kids running around revolutionizing organically. I love that the film is able to capture that.
But despite the brilliant message and cinematography, there’s something about how the characters deliver their messages that feels so banal. They do not feel as natural as the messages that were delivered in Goodbye, Lenin! The movie also lacks the sophistication and the elegance of delivering a political statement subtly.
Moreover, and this is where I feel guilty and would like to apologize to Daniel Brühl for, despite the characters’ admirable valor and boldness, they become more and more scattered, disastrous, and annoying at best as the movie progresses. By the end of the film I couldn’t care less about the characters getting in trouble, or who’s gonna get with who, since they managed to infuriate me time and time again. The shift to the petty teen drama of the film that started so strongly with a great political message confused me, and it was hard to watch the characters go over and over the same stupid drama. They also began showing how incapable they are of creating stable decisions on their own without being catastrophic. So much of the movie’s political notes could still be expounded on, if the movie hadn’t so gleefully jumped into teen drama conflicts instead.
But despite my dislike of the petty disputes, I can’t help but think that what if, that is supposed to strengthen the whole point of the movie. The characters’ overindulgence of themselves is the film’s way of saying, these individuals are only a bunch of kids. They are a bunch of kids because no one is brave enough to take a stand and demand for change than a bunch of kids. The movie even goes as far as the characters saying, “We screwed up, we did it to save our own asses” acknowledging their vulnerability and susceptibility to mistakes that may have been caused by their age and ignorance. The film magnifies the truth that revolutionaries all over the world are only being led by the youth who are the only ones willing to recognize the defects of society. That is why tendencies such as extremity of decisions leading to catastrophic consequences are happening because, these kids aren’t being guided, aren’t being heard, aren’t being supported. Significant change can only be attained if the adults are willing to wake up as well and want these changes too. The same way Hardenberg was able to recognize by the end of the film that the characters are in need of his support too.