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Jan (Daniel Brühl) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) are activists dedicated to exposing the injustices of capitalist society. Calling themselves "The Edukators", Jan and Peter enter the houses of rich families and rearrange the furniture in bizarre configurations. When Peter's girlfriend Jule (Julia Jentsch) moves in with the two friends, she begins a flirtation with Jan. Anxious to impress her, Jan proposes they stage an "Edukators" event while Peter is away on holidays. Jule suggests they target Hardenberg (Burghart Klaussner), a rich businessman whose fancy car was written off by the uninsured Jule. Hardenberg returns unexpectedly, forcing Jule and Jan to kidnap him. With Peter now returned, the three Edukators and their hostage, who was a radical during his youth in the 60's, travel to a remote farmhouse where the mind games begin.....

Review by Richard Kuipers:
The territory in The Edukators is intriguing but the execution doesn't quite deliver on promises of fireworks between old and new generations of radicals. Proceedings open with a bang at the house of well-offs who return to find their furniture stacked in a ceiling-high pile with an accompanying note warning "your days of plenty are numbered". The screenplay efficiently hooks audiences into the world of these self-styled crusaders against corporate power and private greed and provides a believable rationale for why Jan in particular wants to take their activities to a higher level. "What was considered revolutionary then, you can now buy in a shop" is how one character sums up the forty years since Che Guevara went from being an active agent for socialist ideals to a pop culture pin-up boy and t-shirt fashion statement.

It's an invigorating opening, with a strong grasp of the issues at stake and how today's young rebels see themselves effectively taking up the struggle. The rage simmers disappointingly for a longish stretch as a traditional romantic triangle is forged between the Edukator buddies and Peter's girlfriend Jule. After clearing more clutter than the story demands, matters pick up when a bungled, unauthorised raid by Jan and Jule forces the trio to abandon non-violent protest and take rich businessman Hardenberg hostage. When it turns out that Hardenberg was himself a member of an ultra-left, free love setup in the 60's the stage is set for a juicy talkfest as the next generation is confronted by a representative from the golden age of protest who is now comfortably surrounded by the trappings of middle-class consumer society.

There are scattered moments of discussion that cut to the bone - "Under 30 and not liberal, no heart; over 30 and still liberal, no brain" says Hardenberg, recalling his father's advice - but the opportunity to craft a genuinely potent political drama is sacrificed in favour of more conventional hostage thriller and love triangle concerns. For all it shortcomings The Edukators is still a refreshingly different big screen attraction. It at least approaches subject matter rarely tackled in Australian cinema and is well performed by an appealing cast led by Germany's next big thing Daniel Brühl (Goodbye Lenin). The transfer from digital to 35mm looks great and a thumping soundtrack is also a plus.

Published September 22, 2005

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Fetten Jahre sind vorbei, Die

CAST: Daniel Brühl, Julia Jentsch, Stipe Erceg, Burghart Klaußner, Peer Martiny, Petra Zieser, Laura Schmidt

PRODUCER: Antonin Svoboda, Hans Weingartner

DIRECTOR: Hans Weingartner

SCRIPT: Katharina Held, Hans Weingartner

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daniela Knapp, Matthias Schellenberg

EDITOR: Dirk Oetelshoven, Andreas Wodraschke

MUSIC: Andreas Wodraschke

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Christian Goldbeck

RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes




SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer, photo gallery, cast/crew biographies

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: September 21, 2005

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