The Edukators

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The Edukators
Fetten jahre sind vorbei.jpg
German film poster
Directed by Hans Weingartner
Produced by Antonin Svoboda
Hans Weingartner
Written by Katharina Held
Hans Weingartner
Starring Daniel Brühl
Julia Jentsch
Stipe Erceg
Music by Andreas Wodraschke
Cinematography Daniela Knapp
Matthias Schellenberg
Edited by Dirk Oetelshoven
Andreas Wodraschke
Distributed by Celluloid Dreams
Release dates 25 November 2004 (2004-11-25) (Germany)
15 April 2005 (United Kingdom)
Running time 127 minutes
Country Austria
Language German

The Edukators (German: Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei) is a German-Austrian film made by the Austrian director Hans Weingartner and released in 2004. Nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival,[1] it stars Daniel Brühl, Stipe Erceg and Julia Jentsch.

The original German title, Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei translates literally as "the fat years are over". Die fetten Jahre is a German expression originating from the story of Joseph in Egypt as found in the Luther Bible, meaning a period in which one enjoys considerable success and indulges oneself heavily. The official translation of the statement as used in the film and the subtitle to the English-language release was "Your days of plenty are numbered".


The film revolves around three young anti-capitalist activists living in Berlin city centre — Jule (Julia Jentsch), her boyfriend Peter (Stipe Erceg) and his best friend Jan (Daniel Brühl).

Jule is a waitress struggling to pay off the €100,000 debt she accumulated after crashing into a Mercedes-Benz S-Class of a wealthy businessman named Hardenberg (Burghart Klaußner) on a motorway. After she is evicted for paying her rent too late, she moves in with Peter and Jan, who are often out all night. When Peter takes a trip to Barcelona, Jan reveals that he and Peter spend their nights "educating" upper-class people by breaking into their houses, moving furniture around, and leaving notes with messages that say "die fetten Jahre sind vorbei" (the days of plenty are over), or "Sie haben zu viel Geld" (you have too much money).

After learning about this, Jule convinces the reluctant Jan to spontaneously break into Hardenberg's home in the affluent Berlin suburb of Zehlendorf, as he happens to be away on business. During the break-in, the thrill of the moment entices the two to kiss. Jan leaves Jule alone for a few minutes because he does not want to hurt his friendship with Peter. While wandering around, Jule accidentally sets off the house's floodlights after she goes outside and they leave in a hurry.

Peter returns the next day, but Jan and Jule do not tell him about their activities the night before. Jule soon realises that she is missing her mobile phone, so Jule and Jan go off later that night to look for it in the house. Just after she finds it, Hardenberg walks in the door and he begins to struggle with Jule after recognising her. Jan, who hears the struggle, comes downstairs and knocks Hardenberg out with a flashlight. Not knowing what to do, the pair call Peter who shows up to help them.

The three cannot decide what to do with Hardenberg, so they decide to take him to a remote and rarely used cabin in the Tyrolean Austrian Alps, near Jenbach, overlooking Achensee, that belongs to Jule's uncle. While trying to decide how to deal with their hostage, they learn that Hardenberg was once a radical himself in the 1960s. He had been a leader of the Socialist German Student Union and was once good friends with Rudi Dutschke, before eventually marrying, getting a good job and abandoning his ideals.

As the story progresses, political ideologies, but more so the characters' relationships, become the deep issues. Peter and Jan temporarily fall out over Jan's now blooming romance with Jule, while Hardenberg seems to regain some sense of his former self.

In the end, the three decide to take Hardenberg back to his house and let him go. As the three get ready to leave, Hardenberg hands Jule a letter, clearing all her debt and telling them that they need not worry about the police. The film ends with Peter, Jan and Jule sleeping in bed whilst a group of Spezialeinsatzkommando police amass outside the flat that Jule, Peter and Jan had been sharing, and knock on the door. Jule then wakes up when she hears a knock on the door. The police force their way into the flat which they find nearly completely empty. The film then cuts to Jule, who opens the door to a hotel maid offering to clean their room, presumably in a hotel in Barcelona. Back in the apartment in Berlin, the police find a note that reads "Manche Menschen ändern sich nie" (some people never change).

The original German version shows the three Edukators taking Hardenberg's boat into the Mediterranean to destroy the signal towers on an island that supply most of the television to Western Europe.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The film was generally well received by critics. Based on 74 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 69%, with an average score of 6.5/10.[3] By comparison, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 68, based on 28 reviews.[4]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times called it a "A slyly effective thriller and of a deft comedy of romantic confusion. Whatever its shortcomings as a consideration of globalization and its discontents, The Edukators succeeds brilliantly in telling the story of a man who falls in love with his best buddy's girlfriend and doesn't know what to do about it."[5] Los Angeles Times critic Carina Chocano concluded that it was "A sweet, funny and gripping romantic adventure, it's about the limitations of political activism in this day and age, and what happens when your girlfriend and your best friend fall in love."[6][7] Jonathan Romney of The Independent also favoured the film "Hans Weingartner's digitally-shot The Edukators wonders whether the old political idealism can be revived, but its gentle, trendily pallid vision of youthful ferment is strictly non-threatening - the Revolution with a Jamie Cullum haircut."[8]

Cultural impact[edit]

In 2009, a statue stolen from Bernard Madoff was returned with a note that read "Bernie the Swindler, Lesson: Return stolen property to rightful owners" and was signed by "The Educators". This is a reference to the film, although in the film they did not tend to steal from the houses they broke into.[9]


The soundtrack for the film was a compilation edited on Mute Records and consisted of tracks by bands such as Depeche Mode, Placebo, Nada Surf, Franz Ferdinand, Phoenix, Simian and One Inch Punch amongst others, as well as many tracks by German bands as The Notwist, Tocotronic and Slut.

Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" was also featured, but it was not included on the soundtrack.


In 2006, it was announced that Brad Anderson would adapt and direct a remake of the film set in the United States instead of Berlin.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Edukators". Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei (Original Ending)". YouTube. 20 November 2006. Retrieved 2012-10-20. 
  3. ^ "The Edukators (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Edukators reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  5. ^ Scott, A. O. (22 July 2005). "The Edukators (2004)". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  6. ^ Chocano, Carina (29 July 2005). "Smart and poignant, and that can be revolutionary". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  7. ^ Chocano, Carina (29 July 2005). "Smart and poignant, and that can be revolutionary". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  8. ^ Romney, Jonathan (17 April 2005). "The Edukators review". The Independent. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Bernie Madoff taught ethics lesson by statue thieves". The Daily Telegraph. 1 January 2009. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  10. ^ Goldstein, Gregg (25 April 2006). "Anderson to helm redo of 'Edukators'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 29 May 2010. [dead link]

External links[edit]