The Edukators
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  • The Edukators
  • 127 minutes  -  Drama
  • Original title: Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei
  • Director:Hans Weingartner
  • Language: German
  • Country: Germany

Three friends break into the houses of rich people, rearrange their furniture, and leave behind cryptic messages, chastising the owners of these mansions for their wealth. They never steal anything but only hope to convey their political point. During one of their exploits, however, things do not go as planned, and they inadvertently end up kidnapping one of their victims.

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REVIEW BY Roxanne Sancto Movie EXPERT
Review posted: 27/11/2013

Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei (released The Edukators in English) focuses on the unique fight against capitalism carried out by two “Großstadtrevolutionäre” (big city revolutionaries), Jan (Daniel Brühl) and his housemate Peter (Stipe Erceg). Having installed alarm systems in villas throughout Berlin, Peter has learned enough about them to discover their weaknesses. Both friends break into these villas, but don’t steal anything. Instead, they make their point clear by rearranging furniture and leaving behind charged messages like “Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei” (The days of plenty are over) or “Sie haben zu viel Geld” (You have too much money). These “Botschaften” (messages) are signed “Die Erziehungsberechtigten” (The Edukators).

"It is up to viewers to decide whether or not the film ends on a positive or negative note. There is plenty of room for discussion"

Peter’s girlfriend, Jule (Julia Jentsch), regularly attends small “Demos” (demonstrations) against child labour and the like, but she is completely caught up in her own personal struggle against the upper class. Thanks to a car accident, she owes the owner of a Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse about €100,000. To pay it off, she will have to spend an estimated eight years of her life “abrackern” (working really hard). This term originated in the early days of textile processing, when flax and fibres were taken from plants to obtain linen. The plants’ stems had to be raked or “gerackert,” an extremely labor-intensive activity. Thus, “rackern” soon became a term to describe demanding work. Jule is employed as a waitress in a fancy restaurant where she is treated horrifically by the clientele. When she is evicted from her apartment, she is forced to move in with Jan and Peter, cancelling her planned “Kurzurlaub” (short holiday) with Peter. He goes to Barcelona alone, while Jan tells her the truth about his nightly missions with her boyfriend. Jule is extremely enthusiastic about the idea, especially when she finds out that her enemy, Mr. Mercedes Benz (actually surnamed Hardenberg), lives in one of the villas where Peter has installed an alarm system.

Jule feels that Jan really understands her troubles, whereas Peter keeps insisting, “Mach dir keinen Kopf” (Don’t worry about it). This phrase literally means: “Don’t make yourself a head.” It is closely linked to “Ich habe einen Kopf auf” (I have a head on), which is what someone would say if his or her head were swelling during a hangover. “Mach dir keinen Kopf,” then, means that Jule should stop worrying before her head swells. Jule convinces Jan to break into Handerberg’s house and “educate” him, but things go horribly wrong. Along with Peter, they end up kidnapping Hardenberg and taking him on the road. Hardenberg doesn’t agree with the methods of his kidnappers, but he admires their arguments and passions. He tries to win them over with talk of “Freie Liebe” (free love), his youth as a “Vorstandsmitglied der SDS” (member of the Socialist German Student Union), and his friendship with Rudi Dutschke, a Marxist sociologist and political activist. But the three revolutionaries don’t think he “kapieren” (understands) their motives and their daily fight (“Kapieren” is widely used in Germany and derives from the Latin “capere”). It is up to viewers to decide whether or not the film ends on a positive or negative note. There is plenty of room for discussion, especially after considering the final message: “Manche Leute ändern sich nie” (Some people never change).