The Baader-Meinhof Complex
- Paul Dale
- 13 November 2008
Based on the non-fiction book by Der Spiegel editor and journalist Stefan Aust, The Baader-Meinhof Complex is a compelling and engrossing attempt to explain the trajectory and political position of arguably the most incoherent post-war European terrorist group – the Red Army Faction.
Intelligently adapted and produced by Bernd Eichinger and directed with suitably epic intention by Uli Last Exit to Brooklyn Edel, the film details how a rag-tag band of non-conformists, left-wing journalists and petty criminals went from merry pranksters angry at the respect accorded to politicians who backed the war in Vietnam (and police who broke personal privacy laws) to an armed militia. Using the personal and political progressions of gang members Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu), Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck) and crucially Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek) to explain how a combination of savage attacks from the right wing Springer press, internal power struggles and idealist Willy Brandt’s tenure as chairman and chancellor of the ruling Social Democratic Party led to some very interesting and bloody times.
For all it’s complexities (to a non German audience at least) The Baader-Meinhof Complex maintains the momentum of a good political thriller throughout. Ably helped out by vigorous performances from an exceptional cast Edel fittingly utilises both the docudrama templates of Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1966 The Battle of Algiers and satirical depth and raciness of Costa Gavras’ seminal 1969 political thriller Z. Seemingly all too aware of the dangers inherent in historical analogy, Edel and Eichinger do, however, play things straight without trying to simplify the global complexities of the time. The result is the most thought-provoking film of the year.
Selected release from Fri 14 Nov. See preview.