In the past years there’s been a constant stream of German films which are tolerably good and about a film per year which even made it to (arts) cinemas internationally. This started around the time of Lola Rennt (Run, Lola, Run) and has continued since. Although, with Gegen die Wand, there’s already been a candidate for that this year, Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei (IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes) may be another one.
The story is quite simple and bit zeitgeisty. Three young people, Jan , Jule and Peter, aren’t too happy with the world we live in and the whole globalisation and capitalistic crap. But the go further than the little protest against sweatshop labour in sneaker outlets. The boys made up a little scheme where they break into the houses of rich people. On they’re in there, they rearrange the furniture and B&O tellys in absurd ways and leave one of two simple messages:
Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei (The ‘fat’ years are over) or
Sie haben zuviel Geld. (You’ve got too much money.)
Those messages are signed with
Die Erziehungsberechtigten, which is usually translated as legal guardians in English but is a much stranger word in German, referring literally to those who are entitled to educate you. I suppose that this led to the film’s strange English title
The Edukators, with a little teutonic ‘k’ in the middle.
The theory behind leaving those messages is that the rich people are used to being robbed but breaking into their homes and changing them without showing interest in the money will scare them. It’s not seen how effective this really is but it’s a sweet idea at least. As Jule gets involved, the careful planning goes and Jan and her break in the villa of a guy that Jule ows a lot of money because of a traffic accident, paying for which essentially ruins her life.
As if this weren’t silly enough, she forgets her phone at the place and they have to return to pick it up – incidentally at the same time that the home owner returns. In panic, they decide to kidnap him and take him to the countryside without an actual plan about what to do with him. The kidnapping is very relaxed and they learn that the rich guy did his share of revolution planning back in the 1960s which of course touches the issue how he changed so much since then and makes the young guys think about their future.
After a few days in the countryside and a crisis or another in the young people’s friendship, they decide to bring the businessman back home, for good. And that’s about it. While the kidnapping didn’t help their actual problem too much, they learned a lot about themselves at least and became better friends. They’ve got more plans to pursue.
All in all, the film is well done and based on a cool idea. With Hans Weingartner being the director and Daniel Brühl (known from Good Bye Lenin) as Jan – those two also made Das weiße Rauschen together.
I don’t think it’s an outstanding film, but it’s well worth watching. My two main critiques would be the following: At just over two hours the film is long. As there’s not a lot happening in the film, that’s definitely too much. Half an hour less would have been enough. Secondly, I found the filming irritating in places. It seems to be fashionable to cut off people’s heads in photos these days and you can witness that in the film a lot as well.
I found Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei brilliantly made and interesting. I became a big fan of Daniel Brühl after seeing him in films such as Good Bye, Lenin! and Honolulu so when I was in Germany recently and saw the posters advertising Die fetten Jahre I quickly went and saw it. Unfortunately my German isn’t great and I didn’t understand much of the dialogue. Strangely, I understood all the swearing. A great film to watch, incredibly interesting storyline and fantastic cinematography but now I just have to wait for it to be released with English subtitles.
hmmm… I actually have something to say, rather than just give a bunch of links for generic pharmecudicals— I own the Edukators, and I really like it. I will agree with you— it does run long, and there isn’t a great deal of action/some things are unbelievable.. but I really do like the dialogue at the cabin— I think it touches on a lot of things. Jan, Jule and Peter can be kind of annoying at times, but I thought that was a conscious choice, to show perhaps how young people, although they may care about the right things and think very deeply about the affects of globalisation etc., are a little ridiculous in how they act.
Something that did annoy me a little was very, very poor editing. I know they didnt have a huge budget or anything, but their cuts could have been cleaner. This added to the art-house movie effect I suppose.
OH GOD I have heard a rumor that an American director is wanting to redo the movie and set it in America. I really hope this rumor is either 1. false or 2. if it is true, plans for such a stupid remake will fall through. Its pretty disgusting, really— there is a good number of people who know of/have seen the movie. It doesnt need to be American to be relevent. On the contrary, I think an American remake would be completely devoid of the feeling die fetten jahre sind vorbei had. Its obviously a european film, obviously German. I just hope that this movie wont be made and, God forbid, it isnt lauded or seen by anyone.
I can’t really agree with the comments above. I didn’t think the movie was too long, and
I wasn’t disturbed by the editing. The actors have fantastic facial expressions, and
dialog that is both very funny and feels very real. But one thing that I was hoping to find answer for here
but couldn’t was the message in the film. What does they mean?? It isn’t worth fighting for
anything, becouse nobody ever changes? or to be an activist is just stupid and you’ll get
in big trubble if you mess with the rich people?
But that can’t be the message…or?
If they are trying to inspire people to stop for a while, think of how much money they have
and how much money they really need, then they have totally failed in there attempt. But if you don’t care about what message a film have, then I strongly recommend it. It was a long time ago since I saw a film that felt so real…ohh and had such a great soundtrack, Halleluja with Jeff Buckley was the icing at the top.
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