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(en) Ireland, Working Class Resistance #10 - The Edukators

Date Sat, 24 Dec 2005 13:28:40 +0200

Given the vast scale, and dynamic importance to
real-world affairs of that multi-faceted phenomenon of
global solidarity loosely defined as the
anti-capitalist movement, it is disappointing that
feature film-makers (and more pertinently, their
producers/financial backers) have blatantly ignored
the rich narrative possibilities within it. Until now,
that is.

There has been an encouraging upsurge in production
and distribution of commendable left-leaning
documentary films in recent years (the Corporation,
the Take, Super Size Me, Control Room, the Yes Men
among the best), but ironically this
status-quo-critical material seems aided by businesses
responsive to the hugely profitable success and
notoriety of Michael Moore’s film-essays Bowling for
Columbine and Fahrenheit 911. As Bill Hicks once
angrily parodied marketing goon’s response to his
acerbic stand-up: “ah, I see he’s going for the
rebellious dollar, very smart, that’s a very
profitable angle”.

But getting a system-questioning message heard is most
important, and in these remains intact – despite a
public lapping up anti-capitalist documentaries, this
year’s release of writer-director Hans Weingartner's
excellent The Educators heralds the first sensitive
and intelligent fictional exploration of the ideas
behind our movement’s passionate protagonists.
The main characters are three Berlin youths,
frustrated by the inequalities and predatory
destruction wrecked by global ‘free-market’
capitalism. Daniel Bruhl, star of last year’s touching
Goodbye, Lenin!, gives another intelligent and
absorbing performance as Jan, a spirited and
subversive anarchist and revolutionary. Together with
his friend Peter, ‘the Edukators’ conduct nocturnal
Situationist direct-actions, breaking into
ostentatious suburban mansions not to steal, but to
rearrange furniture and valuables and leave cryptic
messages designed to unsettle these wealthy oppressors
of the proletariat.

What begins as well executed (if a tad ineffective)
agitation soon leads to trouble when Jan falls in love
with Peter's girlfriend Jule and a break-in turns into
a sloppy and panicked kidnapping. All three have to
flee from their cosy city commune to a remote hut in
the mountains, where their savvy millionaire hostage
Hardenberg antagonises their desperate situation
further, putting their theories about anarchy and the
system to the test before the trios seemingly
inevitable self-implosion or capture by the state.

This tense, evocative and emotional thriller is also
an excellent character piece, with all four discussing
and reassessing ethics and politics in scenes most
critics, predictably, dismissed as “overly preachy”,
“intellectually confused” or even “hectoring socialist
lecture”. But of course these bourgeois apologists
refuse to see the point, and perfectly illustrate the
film’s main strength as an affecting work of artistic
power: why does anarchic idealism and honest talk of
revolution make society uncomfortable? With "The
Edukators," Weingartner successfully and sensitively
dramatises questions that aren't supposed to be asked
out loud in a turgid, apathetic culture where irony is
king and belief in anything but money is dead. This
dialectic sequence offers arguments from both sides,
and forces viewers to get off the fucking fence.

The Edukators is available from all ‘good’ capitalist
DVD retailers on 26 September.

paul michael

From the pages of Working Class Resistance, magazine
of Organise!

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