A subject of enduring fascination for Germans (and anybody interested in the more vivid manifestations of the '60s counterculture), the Baader Meinhof gang roared through Europe for years, dividing a population that either demonized or romanticized their exploits. In The Baader Meinhof Complex the goal for director Uli Edel (Last Exit to Brooklyn) and screenwriter Bernd Eichinger is to play the material down the middle: to portray the events of the outlaw group without deciding they are either heroes or terrorists. Some of the motives for the Baader Meinhof gang are laid out early on; for instance, that for the generation born in Germany after Hitler's nightmare had ended, a return to fascism was unacceptable--even to the point of guerrilla activities against the state. Some of Germany's biggest stars are involved in bringing the principals to life, including Moritz Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run) as the self-important ringleader Andreas Baader and Johanna Wokalek (North Face) as Gudrun Ensslin, his co-conspirator and lover. The most intriguing narrative thread of the story comes from the decision by journalist Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck, from The Lives of Others) to leap from her stable life and abruptly join Baader and Ensslin on the run. The subversive activities of the Red Army Faction (as the group dubbed itself), including bombings and arson attacks, are chronicled in rapid, blunt fashion by the movie, which seems less interested in a thoughtful reflection on these incidents than in shoving them in your face. In that sense, you might begin to wish the movie had taken a side, just to provide some coherent perspective. As a rush of sensations, the film's appeal can't be denied, and it scored an Oscar nomination in the 2008 Best Foreign Language Film category. Although it runs two and a half hours, you might find yourself wishing for more screen time for the investigator (the great Bruno Ganz) tracking down the gang. His character has the gall to suggest that in trying to understand a terrorist group, it is advisable to trace back the roots of their motivations and attempt to grapple with those causes--an idea as unpopular in the 1970s as it always is. --Robert Horton
Based on the authoritative biographical text by Stefan Aust, this fourth collaboration from Uli Edel and Bernd Eichinger (of Christiane F. fame) examines the Red Army Faction's eventful first decade. While the group's famed terrorist activities are afforded flashy reenactments in the style of an action film, Edel's primary goal is to convey these incidents and the individuals who planned and executed them as they were. Here, the critical elements of the group's … more
This was Germany's entry in the 81st academy awards. It is tough, gritty and a fast-paced thriller that covers the birth of the RAF movement. A knowledge of the true events may aid in the appreciation of this thriller but I thought this film was well-executed. It still stands as a compelling portrayal of extremism and perhaps of terrorism. Full review here.
Germany's Official submission to the Academy Awards; this film was nominated for the best foreign language film awards in the 81st Oscars. Director Uli Edel’s “BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX” is a look at the events that had transpired between 1967-1977 in West Germany. It chronicles the events that led to the organization of the West German militant group called the Red Army Faction (RAF) by Ulrike Meinhof and Andreas Baader. The film is based on the non-fiction … more
The Baader Meinhof Complex is an at once exhilarating and horrific depiction of the rise and fall of a very prominent left-wing extremist group in '70s Germany, formed from an uneasy alliance between journalist Ulrike Meinhof and the incendiary couple Andreas Baader and his girlfriend Gudrun Ensslin. The film explores the initial motivations for their radicalization, the shift from anger and rebellion to increasingly violent acts of terror, and the dissolution of the group's ideology into seeming … more