I’d seen and enjoyed The Edukators before but was perhaps a little too young to acknowledge the many underlying themes it tackles. Having now seen it with more guidance, I maintain that it is a great film, but not without its flaws.
Director Hans Weingartner has stated that the film came about partly to reflect on his own struggle to find a political identity as a young adult in Germany. This frustration is evident from the beginning, as all three of the young adults seem to have different motives for becoming ‘Edukators’. In one scene early on, Jan finds a watch that Peter has stolen and throws it out the window of the van, to which Peter responds “you just threw away five thousand euros”, implying that he intended to capitalise on his find. Jule also seems to have a rather selfish approach to being an ‘Edukator’, as she purely wants to cancel a debt so that maybe she could start a lucrative career herself. Both of the guys are willing to ignore the nature of her motives and pull out all the stops to help her – they even hyperbolically compare her situation to the debt of Third World nations.
My problem with the film was that the ending was too facile. The set-up of the characters is somewhat idealistic, so the end message “some people never change” carries little of the gravitas it ought to (as does the clumsy, unauthorised cut of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’ – was it really necessary?).