Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Die Fetten Jahre Sind Vorbei: 93% Perfect

SPOILER ALERT - DO NOT READ UNTIL YOU WATCH THE MOVIE


The film, The Edukators in english, follows a week in the lives of three Germans, Jan, Jule, and Peter. The three of them share intense anti-capitalist ideals and end up in the same household after Jule gets evicted. There, while Peter is away in Barcelona DJing his "big break," Jan and Jule "hit it off." Jan reveals to Jule what him and Peter are doing when they are out all night: breaking into villas and rearranging the furniture. (They leave a note that reads "Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei," or "the fat days are over," and sign it, The Educators.) Things go wrong when Jule and Jan break into the house of Hardenberg, a wealthy executive whose S-Class was totaled by Jule, causing her 100,000 Euro debt.

Focusing neither on politics or relationships, the film takes the role of watcher that both Jule and Jan embrace. After they kidnap Hardenberg, he sets out to educate the three young revolutionaries and ends up doing so brilliantly. From the moment Peter gets back from Barcelona until the end, this movie is perfect. From fake escape attempts to simply sitting in the back of a car in a suit, Burghart Klau├čner (below) steals the well-acted show. His intensity, familiarity, and reactions create a character so accidentally sinister and earnest that this film quickly transforms from another good foreign film to an unforgettable study of politics, relationships, and personal accountability.


The sounds are ideal: a soundtrack featuring Leonard Cohen and Nada Surf punctuates the lengthy periods of silence throughout. The sound of a mug being put on a chair, Hardenburg chopping vegetables for pasta, the van driving away - these noises take rightful precedence over the soundtrack. The pacing is a bit slow for the first five minutes, then perfect through the rest. The acting and cinematography is spot on. The shot of the moon over the silhouette of mountains is breathtaking. It's all so natural and meaningful the movie sucked me in quickly.

As to the puzzling end:

There are two ways I took the actions of Hardenburg throughout the kidnapping: either he is the smartest and luckiest hostage ever, or he is an honest man forced into a sort of mid-life crisis. I like to believe the later based on the PAL ending of the film with the three Edukators on Hardenburg's boat taking out the TV feeds to Europe. But even in the NTSC version this seems more likely because of Hardenburg's earnestness throughout and the Waiver of Debt he gives Jule near the end. So if Hardenburg is displaying Stockholm Syndrome throughout like I think he is, then the raid on the Edukators apartment could mean two things:

1) Hardenburg is testing the Edukators to make sure they meet the standards he set in his radical days of youth.

2) Hardenburg is taking the Edukators advice and giving his money to the poor, namely the Edukators, and helping them gain notoriety before their raid on the TV feeds: Hardenburg is the Edukators supporter.

Who knows? Either way this movie is a must watch. But I am starting to believe the second options. The Edukators are in a hotel around the same time their apartment gets raided. I think Hardenburg set them up there and had their apartment raided to clear his involvement in the TV raid. The note supports this theory: "Some people never change." But more appropriately, people change, but some people hit the Restart Chapter button.

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