The Edukators. The Warwick Cinema, Carlisle
Co-written and directed by Hans Weingarten, the eponymous heroes of this film are two young men – radicals, we might perhaps call them – who seem to have fused feng shui with Situationism to create a stylish and esoteric new form of political protest. Their method is to break into the homes of the rich but, rather than steal, they move the furniture into new spaces, or rearrange it into new forms, to create a visual spectacle designed to shock the occupants out of their cash-encrusted apathy. Like high-class cat
burglars, they leave prominent calling cards stating ‘the days of plenty are numbered’ or ‘you have too much money,’ and later read of their exploits in the newspapers.
Played by Daniel Brühl (Jan) and Stipe Erceg (Peter), it starts to go wrong for the Edukators when, unknown to Peter, his girlfriend, Jule, and Jan become an item (never let a woman spoil a good relationship, the film seems to imply). Witness to police brutality, bullied by her manager, bullied by her landlord, and crippled by debt, Jule has been sufficiently radicalised by these experiences to align herself with Peter and Jan and become the unofficial third Edukator.
The kind of Spectaclesque richbashing they engage in may leave some of their older victims remembering that there’s a beach beneath their gravel driveway. Indeed, after the Edukators have been forced to abduct one of their victims they learn that he was once a radical who rubbed shoulders with the prominent Lefties in the glory days of ’68.
Now a rich entrepreneur, the Edukators – and the audience – are moved to wonder if his revolutionary ideals are now dead, or just dormant. During his captivity he befriends Jan, Jule and Peter; cooking for them, washing their clothes, sharing their drugs, and it seems that the accumulated detritus of thirty years in the business world begins to fall away to reveal, to some extent, the idealist he once was, or at least a more benign capitalist, a Scrooge on Christmas morning.
The Edukators suspect his motives and are alarmed by their developing friendship with their class enemy and ‘hostage’. His abduction by the Edukators becomes his education, and he parts company with his captors on friendly terms, letting bygones be bygones and, more importantly, promising not to contact the authorities. But some leopards never change their spots…
To some extent the film is reminding us of the generally perceived view that youthfulness and radicalism seem to go hand in hand, whilst ‘ageing’ and ‘conservative’ are words which frequently keep each other company. There are many people who claim to have been socialists back in the sixties, yet after a few pints confess that Enoch was right. And some know, and some even perhaps are, former radicals who now vote New Labour and watch the world go by from behind the Financial Times.
As The Edukators should have tried to explore more often, there are probably many reasons why youthful would-be smashers of the state mature into upholders of the status quo. It is often the case that self-styled radicals were never radical in the first place, and a promising career is a great incentive for abandoning one’s revolutionary ideals. But as Socialist Party members will evince, radicalism never dies: it simply loses its dress sense.