Reviews for The Baader Meinhof Complex ( ) 1080p

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Another interesting German movie

Germans have a quality wave of movies that reached wold audience in the early 21st century, after the Run Lola Run hit. This movie is perhaps not the best of the best, but is interesting, original and gives a story of one turbulent era with great detail and precision.

Totally surprised

I am German, but usually I dislike German movies. So it was a big surprise for me how great this movie actually was. (After all the disappointing Hollywood movies, I will definitely look out for some more German movies.)

Life sometimes writes the best stories, but that doesn't mean that they are always told well. In this case the movie told the story perfectly. Of course not everything happened exactly as it was told, but the whole movie was very convincing. Psychologically the whole thing was very smart, the talks have been totally impressive and intellectual.

Even the action was great. Probably the best action ever shown in a German movie. Actors also have been on a very high level.

I personally would have liked a bit more information. But yea, the movie is already 2,5 hours long. I understand that they needed to leave out a lot of stuff. The movie did an amazing job of generating a great mix of entertainment, information and realism. - Something very unusual.

could hardly be better

The Baader Meinhof Complex succeeds in bringing the social upheavals of the late 60s-early 70's to life for 21st century viewers in a realistic and urgent way.

The Baader Meinhof gang of West Germany was more or less equivalent to the Weather Underground in the USA – primarily students and intellectuals and their hangers-on who became frustrated by the failure of the mass protest movements of the late 60's to overthrow the world order. This frustration led them to engage in acts of terrorism, meant to provoke the state into increasing repression which in turn was supposed to provoke the population at large to mass revolt. (A similar movement existed in 19th century Russia when terrorist bombers, impatient with social quiescence, took to assassinating prominent officials, including Tsar Alexander II.) It didn't work and it only killed or injured a lot of innocent people, alienated millions more and ultimately reinforced the status quo.

This film not only re-stages the street battles, bank robberies and bombings in a manner up to the best Hollywood-action standards, but also reveals the individual, psychological complexities of the central gang members as portrayed by some very fine actors. The gang was a combination of downright sociopaths (personified by Baader) and morally outraged mainstream citizens (personified by Meinhof). It was a vast and messy enterprise, and director Uli Edel wisely allows the sheer chaos of it to explode across the screen in all of its confusion in order to replicate as much as possible the instability and the passion that characterized these events at the time, and to keep the story alive and flowing. In short, he crams as many aspects of the story as he can into two and a half hours, giving the audience an abundance of notions to explore during and after viewing.

My back pages

Pre-9/11 and the 'war on terror', you'd be forgiven for assuming that international terrorism was some kind of super-outré lifestyle choice, with its own clothing line, cool accessories and an endless supply of kidnap victims on tap. The only drawbacks: being banged up for a couple of decades or, at the very worst, individually picked off by special forces (although if you were a male terrorist you had even more of a fighting chance, as everyone knew they always shot the women first).

At least, that's the impression you might take away from The Baader Meinhof Complex, during an exchange between a pair of sexy, second generation RAF (Red Army Faction) recruits and a Middle Eastern fixer. "We can invade the US Embassy in Kuwait - or there's the possibility we can hijack a Lufthansa plane," their agent casually suggests, as if he were a ma?tre d' presenting two different restaurant menus to a couple of lovebirds on a dinner date. (In the event, the RAF picks the plane platter with hostages to go.)

So although it would be nuts (given how the central characters wind up) to accuse The Baader Meinhof Complex of glamourising terrorism or playing fast and loose with the facts, the film could certainly be mistaken for trading in radical chic, dealing as it does with a young, hip, disproportionately middle-class organisation, much given to Bonnie And Clyde-style posturing and gunplay.

The filmmakers can also hardly be blamed for the fact that quite a few of Germany's most wanted were ridiculously good looking in real life, and they've cast accordingly. If Germany's film directors were in thrall to US counterculture during the 1970s, so too were its activists - headline stars of their own imagined movies. That young terrorist strutting down the quaking aisles of the Lufthansa jet in 1977 is modelling a very iconic Che t-shirt. While Andreas Baader, co-founder of the RAF, was no stranger to make-up, false eyelashes and tight trousers without underwear, the better to show off that 'arsch'. Even a Jordanian training camp is treated like an 18-30 holiday with sub-machine guns.

Substitute those guns for guitars and this could almost be the biopic of a rock band, from early hits to mid-period mismanagement and fatal fall-outs over direction and differences. And, naturally, everybody chain smokes throughout. Even an emaciated hunger striker valiantly puffs away while dying on his back.

Initially, it is perhaps more instructive to say what this film is not. It is not some soul-searching blockbuster about good people who do bad things; it is no Munich. These would-be heroes of the people are pitiless killers, spitting scattershot rhetoric as their Heckler & Koch MP5's rain ammunition on those imperialist running dogs and anyone else who gets in the line of fire.

Neither is this film any kind of comprehensive field guide to the RAF; the sprawling cast often come and go without namechecks, introductions or backstories. Momentum, not digression, is key. Nor, after nearly two-and-a-half-hours of dense history, does the film, one of the coldest and least sentimental of the German new wave, wrap with some tidy, poignant resolution; it climaxes with an awful, spiteful gunshot ringing out in a middle of a forest.

Instead, The Baader Meinhof Complex, based on Stefan Aust's non-fiction study, is a brutally honest, totally uncompromising and utterly gripping depiction of exactly what happened in the ten years between June 1967 - when police shot dead a protester during a state visit to Germany by the Shah of Iran - to October 1977, when abducted industrialist and former Nazi Hanns-Martin Schleyer was executed in revenge for the suicides of imprisoned RAF leaders Ensslin, Baader and Jan-Carl Raspe.

Our escort into the underworld is the left-wing journalist and mother-of-two Ulrike Meinhof (Gedeck) who goes from reporting the news to making it. Her snap decision to leap from an open window to join Gudrun Ensslin (Wokalek) and Baader (Bleibtreu) on the run during a prison break is as significant as Chief Broom's in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Once through that window, there is no absolutely no return home. Paranoia, madness and suicide follows. Who'd be a terrorist? While the film doesn't flinch from showing precisely what a car bomb does to the human body, neither does it shy away from depicting the tedium of drifting from one safe house to the next in the company of angry neurotics.

There is not the slightest shred of hero-worship or sympathy for these left-wing idealists-turned-neo-Nazis: Baader is portrayed as a reckless, idiotic poseur ("Only a gun makes it fun!" he exclaims to a young disciple), Ensslin, a manipulative tyrant, and Meinhof, an icy propagandist ("A man in uniform is a pig, and of course it's okay to shoot him"). All the cast is superb, but Gedeck and Wokalek as the catfighting frump and firebrand are standout.

It has its flaws: this is a film of two halves, and once the architects of the RAF have been incarcerated in Stammheim prison, the film's momentum cannot help but be somewhat railroaded. As if to compensate, the movement's second generation, including the drop-dead gorgeous Brigitte Mohnhaupt (Uhl), ramp up the bloodletting with ever more ferocity, until the film finally topples over as if through sheer exhaustion.

The soundtrack could also have been chosen with more care; what precisely is the significance of Janis Joplin singing "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz" over the opening credits, aside from the fact it's a German make of car? Meanwhile, Bob Dylan's 'Blowin' In The Wind' is an altogether too mimsy lyric to finish this film with, after what's preceded it. Surely Dylan's 'My Back Pages' is the most obvious choice - "In a soldier's stance I aimed my hand at the mongrel dogs who teach/Fearing not I'd become my enemy in the instant that I preach."

Bonnie and Klaus in Wild West Germany...

I have seen this movie twice. I have an alternate title: Bonnie and Klaus in Wild West Germany. You have to consider these are the children of WW2 Germany, and they got to experience the resurrection of West Germany, another economic miracle (funded by US tax payers under the Truman Doctrine). So, they were living quite well and feeling guilty about everyone in the third world living like dogs. But I have to say it was a bit of an over reaction. But I figure their intensity is just another example of how a younger generation responds to a society crisis, and they feared Fascism. But like the late Bobby Fuller sang in a song, "I fought the law and the law won." The establishment cannot be beat. They have the resources, which can easily squish ideology. But this film is a good educational resource. I had heard of the Baader-Meinhoff Gang and the Red Army Faction, but knew very little, as this film revealed to me. I suggest doing some research about Baader-Meinhoff before seeing this film. It won't spoil it, as it may actually make it a little more coherent as the events unfold. This is a keeper for me, and I will own the DVD.

a great film that never could have been made in America

I liked this film primarily of how much it seemed to buck the formulaic American plot system. Don't get me wrong some American movies are cool, but they mostly all adhere to the same boring standards.

This film was incredibly bleak and honest, which I respected very much. Also it required that you think for yourself and develop your own opinions.

The plot revolves around a group of young people who go out to try to make a difference and yet don't really accomplish anything at all. I can't give away too much but I thought this was just beautiful and complex film-making. Very intelligent, it never tried to be cute or force any ideas on you, it simply was.

I know this is a vague review, but if you feel like seeing an intelligent complex drama then you must see this. Go German cinema!

The Seventies at their most violent

There are plenty of previous movies about this most famous of European terrorist groups of the 1970's. J. Hoberman of The Village Voice mentions notable ones by Fassbinder, Rainer, Hauff, and Schl?ndorff, points to Gerhard Richter's important 15-painting installation, and calls this presentation "by contrast...an extended footnote." If a footnote, it's extended indeed: it runs two and a half hours, and it may be one of the most elaborate series of recreations of violent political action ever put on film. Made from Der Spiegel editor Stefan Aust's book-length study, it's a very comprehensive account and and this very strength is also a flaw: because it's such a detailed survey, the film therefore also lacks clarifying focus, or depth in portraying any particular individuals or events. Not having seen any of these predecessors except part of the Richter paintings series, I use as my comparison Bellocchio's 'Good Morning, Night'/'Buongiorno, notte.' A rather surprising approach to filming the Aldo Moro kidnapping, it takes us long and deep into the kidnappers' claustrophobic world and has a haunting mood, a sense of what it's like to be trapped by suicidal commitments. It also shows better than this film how a single grand terrorist exploit could hold a whole nation in its feverish grip.

No doubt that the actors playing journalist-convert Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck), the lawless hipster revolutionary Andreas Baader (Moritz Beibtreu) and Baader's paramour Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek) have the right stuff to convey the wild conviction and psychoses of the time. These three, plus the police chief played by Bruno Ganz and a young Turk played by Vinzenz Kiefer, are the only characters who emerge vividly as personalities. Gudrun's love for Andreas is simply but deftly conveyed through all the wreckage and violence by the way she calls him "baby." Meinhof is a sympathizer whose motherhood and respectability hold her back, till she is the decoy and manipulator in an operation to spring Baader from prison, whereupon she jumps out the window with the others and becomes and outlaw. Later (perhaps because lacking full commitment?) she gradually loses her sanity during a long period when the principals are all held in solitary confinement.

Lots of stringy hair, bad clothing styles, too much lipstick and eyeliner and perpetual cigarettes add to the period flavor. One of the principals even lights up during an intense shootout with police. Ganz's wily, cool-headed police chief seems to have ideas Americans of the last decade are incapable of: he says more than once that terrorism won't end till the situations that lead to it are removed. Vietnam, the Palestinians, and a series of other injustices are presented as context, not to mention such Sixties American violence as the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and M.L. King. This is a film rich in political reference -- but without much clarification of the group's political motives or their relation to strategy. The original group begins by blowing up a department store, and robs three banks in a ten-minute period. Robberies, bombings, and kidnappings are their M.O., and decisions often just seem to flow out of firecracker Andrea Baader's macho screaming fits. When in doubt, he usually throws a chair. It's not entirely clear how devilish derring-do morphed into leadership. But what is clear is that the opposition is former Nazis or their sympathizers, and the new terrorists, committed to preventing fascism from ever returning to Germany, are the offspring of parents who were anti-Nazi all along. The group calls itself RAF, the Red Army Faction, and Chairman Mao is a guru, even if his dicta are only rarely cited.

The opening scene of the film is a jaw-droppingly complex and violent production number: a large street demonstration in which fascist supporters of the Shah of Iran face leftists. The Shah supporters begin a bloody attack on the leftists using the wood poles that held their posters, and the police join in, bashing leftists; one gets shot. Tumult and excitement continue unabated thenceforth; in the first half, there are few pauses for breath. A notable one comes when Gudrun invites a young rebel just escaped from juvie, Peter-Jürgen Boock (Vinzenz Kiefer) to strip and join her in the bath, and Baader comes in and isn't bothered. Peter-Jürgen will become a leader of the second or third generation Baader Meinhof, who arranges Arab collaboration in the Lufthansa plane hijacking to gain the leaders' release from prison, which Baader disavows because it jeopardizes innocent passengers. (This is not the first Baader Meinhof contact with Palestinian fighters; Baader's earlier ones wind up not being very friendly.) We see how it transpires that the German police declare terrorism in Germany to have been safely eliminated, only to be proved very wrong when the 1972 Munich Olympics lead to the slaughter of the Israeli team.

One question is if you can root out terrorism. Another is whether terrorism accomplishes any positive goal. The film doesn't allow us much time to think about any of this. What it does do, and does with obvious accomplishment and at considerable expense, is provide vivid images of this violent segment of the period. And it lets viewers judge for themselves, neither moralizing nor sympathizing.

the demanding and desperate lines of terrorism

The opening scene of The Baader Meinhof Complex is a fine metaphor for what's to come in the rest of the movie, a mostly historically-accurate chronicle of radicals in West Germany getting their Marxist slings at those in power in the early 1970s. We see a nude beach- Janis Joplin's Mercedes Benz crooning on the soundtrack- and a family, a wife and husband, the wife being Ulrike Meinhof, a writer of extreme op-eds, and two little daughters on the beach. They seem to be enjoying their little section of rebellion, of being free and loose on a beach with other people who are cutting loose with their clothing. But the husband's eyes are averted to another woman on the beach, one of those casual invite-you-to-this conversations that Ulrike just knows looks like bad news, this despite the husband going back right away to being the good father. Even when everything should be going fine in the middle of a rebellion, s*** keeps coming in- the real world and actual problems with said rebellion- and mucking things up. Really, just because you're on a nude beach does not mean anything will change, except that you're naked and you'll need to put your clothes back on at *some* point.

The RAF, the Red Army Faction, are the focus here in the Baader Meinhof Complex, from the people who also brought you the movie Downfall. Where that chronicled the very tight-knit and tense and rightfully depressing story of Hitler's end of days, this is much more epic, chronicling ten years in this group of Anarcho-Marxists who basically want to attack the Capitalists to effect some change, but really all they're doing is acting like typical terrorists who seem to find killing random people during their robberies or bombings as a necessary... evil? Just something necessary, I guess, to attain their goals. But it's also about the historical chronicling of terrorists as a (seemingly?) endless chain - just because the first group gets jailed away and put on hold for a trial doesn't mean another group, inspired by and/or in direct result of the first group, won't sprout up soon after. That they'll be more extreme and more terror-fying is a given.

That the film offers a couple of good pointers in terms of the (now-not-named) "War on Terror" with Al-Quaeda is a good touch, and not too heavy-handed either. Uli Edel and his producer/writer Bernd Eichinger want to figure out about their country's history, and what made these people tick. Turns out their portrayal is not romanticized or too damning. We see how they were not really "good" people in the usual melodramatic term, and perhaps knew past their repeated group-rhetoric that what they were doing was either wrong or not effective (we see this in one very good scene where Horst Herold, played by Bruno Ganz, sets up a day-long country-wide check-point martial law status). But also how much they were willing to give up, such as Meinhof with her own children or her adulterous husband.

The main set of RAF characters are painted as too complex to really peg, which will make the film appeal to just regular normal law-abiding audience members as a saga of why-terrorism-doesn't-work, and for those who might blare Rage Against the Machine at volume 11 from their cars will find it a somber, dramatic chronicle with a hard pill to take in the final minutes. It's a long movie, maybe too long, and there could have been oddly enough more of the character Horst Herold with his investigation- in trying to figure out the real method of these terrorists and how they operate past the given 'yes, they're bad' status- and but as it is Edel skillfully weaves in history and drama, giving us a focal point of this organization and how it related to its country and the Middle East, how its evolution past the first group into generations two and three became disjointed (the last one being apart of a hardcore terrorist act with a Lufthansa airplane hijacking in 1977), and how truly dangerous all of this really was.

The Baader Meinhof Complex offers little hope really, certainly not for any of the principle characters in their years spent in a doomed jail-term and ridiculous trial, and it shouldn't. For those who may have seen Fassbinder's 1979 film The Third Generation, which seems all the more daring in its satire when compared to this, it's an excellent companion piece. And for those who haven't, it's action-packed and intense and thoughtful and is very realistic about the nature of rebellion and 'revolutionaries' in the modern age.

A cautionary tale

It's not insignificant that this story reaches us at this time. Reactionary movements are all around us, some linked to the events (and there are many events depicted here) in the film.

This is the opposite of Oliver Hirschbiegel's static, embalmed "Downfall," the recreation of Hitler's last days. Uli Edel takes Stefan Aust's book and infuses it with kinetic energy. It's one of the best uses of montage in recent cinema and the sound design fits in squarely with the sophisticated visuals and elaborate re-staging of the crimes of the Baader-Meinhoff gang, aka, The Red Army Faction.

I saw this film just after watching Ang Lee's "Taking Woodstock," a very different evocation of a turbulent era. Equally successful here is the recreation of a revolutionary time where everyone seemed to be fighting against something and to be fair, there was a lot to argue rightly about changing. It all came down to the methods one used, and using the guilt of post Nazi Germany, the Baader-Meinhoff gang became delusional and grandiose in their "methods" of social change. "Urban guerrilla" was the fashionable name at the time, today we call it terrorism.

The film doesn't bother to weigh whether anything legitimate was anyone's goal. It opens with a stunning set piece at a demonstration against the Shah of Iran and a riot that pits Right Wing elements against Leftists. As the violence escalates, there are several tracking shots ahead of charging mounted police on horseback that is so electrifying, I sat there wondering, "Can this film top that opening?" Well, it does.

It holds the interest of the audience through a very complex series of robberies, bombings and kidnappings. I was reminded of "The French Connection" in the use of sheer excitement to keep an audience engaged in a very elaborate political movement that terrorized Europe for nearly a decade (at least the cast of characters depicted in this film; activities of the group are still—arguably—alive).

Some have argued that the focus of the film on the crimes of the group glorify them, but no more than, say, the Barrow gang was elevated in Arthur Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde." We're given Baader and Meinhof's dialectic, but we're clearly watching psychotic/psychopathic people; and no one can deny they had a following.

It's a long film, but I think it's very efficient in the story it tells. Over two and a half hours, I can't think of any scene or crime that should have been cut. As well, the film is full of dialog and the English titles require you to miss a great deal of what's visually on the screen. I plan to see it twice as a result.

Huge rallies and set pieces are recreated. The only documentary footage that I recognized was from the Munich Olympics. Sobering in its account, there are many lessons we still need to learn from these events. I was reminded of one of Leonard Cohen's lyrics: "I've seen the future and, brother, it is murder." Let's hope these methods are in the past and not our future. We need to ensure that.

Never pleasant to watch

I wish to clear up any mistake my summary for this might lead to: This is not poorly done. As for this being good or not, that is perhaps a little more subjective, as it may depend on your opinion of the RAF. This is another of the German films of recent years dealing with awful national situations of theirs, from a couple, to numerous, decades back. Whether it's therapeutic, apologetic, a third option or a mix of several that drives this trend, is up for debate. I find this and Der Untergang(or "Downfall") to be exceptionally well-done. As was also the case with that one, this requires you to pay close attention. The pace comes about as close to being outright overpowering - for two and a half hours straight, mind you - as it can, without crossing the line into it. This does also somewhat expect you to be familiar with the overall occurrences, otherwise, you may be confused and have trouble keeping track and following it. This is rather intense. It is a quite strong piece. Featured is an immense amount of violence, which is often graphic. The attitude towards nudity and sexuality is very relaxed. This is disturbing. It is by no means for the faint of heart, and mainstream audiences, if they give this a chance, should not expect it to be "enjoyable", in the traditional sense. It is not "funny". It is powerful. The cinematography and editing are excellent. The acting performances are beyond reproach. I don't know all the facts, but I understand that this isn't completely historically accurate, though it seems to come fairly close. The production values are incredible. I recommend this to anyone interested in an authentic drama based on the Rote Armee Fraktion. 8/10

Captivating and technically excellent movie but far from impartial

For those like me, who lived and recall the sixties, the seventies and the eighties the term terrorism is not such an evil word as it is for people who only associate it with September 11, 2001.

Terrorism was the fight of a minority group against a government. As minorities group do not have an official army (and obviously far less resources than the government), they attack isolated sites by surprise creating chaos, terror and media attention. This is the way to show their discontent and enlist new members (and resources).

As bad as it sounds, if you remember your history lessons, the people that in 18 century throw away tea bags from British ships (the Boston Tea Party) and later the rebels that fight to free this country from the British government were also terrorist. All independence wars in America South to North were basically terrorist groups fighting European Crowns exploiting them.

Based on the above, understanding "The Baader-Meinhof complex" requires an open mind probably even more than the director had.

In sixties, Germany two main parties united under an extreme right position; outlawing the communist and left parties and creating a conservative state, affiliated with USA capitalism.

Former NAZI members like Kurt Georg Kiesinger controlled the coalition and government positions and opposed public opinions, specially those intellectual group as students.

Some violent events executed by the government against students and protesters created the ground for a violent revolutionary movement called RAF.

Originally staged by Andreas Baader and his girlfriend Gudrun Ensslin; and later, molded, organized and ideologically improved by the left wing reporter Ulrike Meinhoff, RAF become a popular movement and the main resistant against a totalitarian government that even supported genocide like the Vietnam War.

The first part of the movie, makes a fast depiction of the events using news footage or staging events like the Iraq's Sha protest while introducing the main characters and the subsequent born off the RAF (Red Army Faction).

While Meinhoff and Ensslin are properly described as an obsessive idealist and a violent but smart executor, Baader is merely shown as a violent and impulsive guy; not particularly brilliant or brave (Baader was incredible charismatic thus he was the face of the movement).

The second parts of the movie, basically shows a series of acts and events performed by RAF shown as criminals masking as political activists and far from organized.

From that moment on, as the events become more and more interesting; the movie (or the director) never takes the side of the activist (which might be right) but seems to approve the government behavior (police never start shooting and rarely hit them); the absurd courtroom events (based on transcripts) or the acceptance of the dead of many main RAF members as suicide (seems pretty convenient in the most heavily guarded prison in Germany, all were able to obtain guns and bullets, not to escape but to kill themselves).

Please do not take me wrong. The movie is technically perfect; the direction and acting is mostly outstanding and the events are impossible to look away; but this type of political movie, should be neutral ; not something Uli Edel did in my opinion.

In any case, it is really worth seeing it, to learn some history and understanding that fighting is sometimes necessary but violence is not the solution.

A slice of history

Four years after the courageous - and excellent - Downfall, German cinema tackles another black page of its history: the terrorist acts committed by the so-called Baader Meinhof Complex, a radical left-wing group that used the uprise of communism as a means to induce fear and panic into the heart of an already battered nation. Significantly, the producer of Downfall, Bern Eichinger, is also behind this film - perhaps because no one else had the ambition to go through with such a project.

The story is told largely from the point of view of Ulrike Meinhof (Martin Gedeck), a leftist journalist who isn't afraid to publicly express her criticisms against the German government's actions. When a group of students, seemingly mimicking their French counterparts, protest at the arrival of a foreign authority figure and get beaten up by the police, Ulrike realizes something different and shocking is necessary. Not much time passes before she comes in contact with Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu) and Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek), an activist couple leading the Red Army Faction (RAF). When Andreas is arrested, Ulrike comes up with a plan to get him out, effectively becoming a fugitive. Thus the group becomes known as the Baader Meinhof Complex, and its members are the most wanted people in all of Germany. It doesn't take long, however, before the conflicting mentalities inside the group lead to trouble even before their notorious arrest and trial begin.

It's not hard to figure out why the movie was made at this specific time: its story and themes are more relevant now than they have ever been, as also proved by Hollywood output like Spielberg's Munich or Ridley Scott's Body of Lies. While at the time the RAF was seen as a German version of Italy's Red Brigades (hence the brief sequence taking place in Rome), director Uli Edel draws a not-so-implicit parallel between Baader and present day terrorist leaders, suggesting the political and social scenario hasn't really changed that much in over four decades. He also stresses his point, but not too much, by shooting most of the film as if it were a documentary (particularly during the incarceration and trial), an approach which, inevitably, invites comparisons with today's news footage.

The Baader Meinhof Complex has a great deal of things to tell, which should justify the running time (it's only ten minutes shorter than Munich). The main problem is Edel's uneven pacing: over the course of two and a half hours he stops to explain certain things - most notably the motivations of the protagonist, played with awards-baiting conviction by Gedeck - and then rushes in other sections, jumping from one accurately reconstructed location to the next without providing a really thorough breakdown of its context and meaning. As such, the film can sometimes be a bit confusing, especially for non-German viewers (who might find reading the subtitles a tad frustrating from time to time).

Nonetheless, the movie is never actually boring, therefore anyone interested in that particular time of German history, or politically charged films in general, ought to give it a look, possibly accompanied by some written material on the subject as well.

7,5/10

Most expensive German movie ever; it shows.

I went to see this movie without any knowledge of the RAF. I wasen't even born when the RAF was active. Still I could follow the story of the movie because, even though some figures are vague and get no introduction, the most important story lines are explained.

The movie follows the beginning, top and ending of the first RAF-members; Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof in particular. The rest of the group doesen't get the big introduction Ulrike got but with so many interesting characters the film would get even longer then its 2.5 hours.

That is inmediatly the biggest problem with the film; it's length. Because of the variety of events and characters, Der Baader-Meinhof complex never gets boring, but at some point in the movie you start to get irritated by the new events. It would be more wisely if the director had chosen to make a sequel, sothat the second RAF-members get the attention they deserve.

So why 8 out of 10 stars? Simple, as an action-movie this is brilliant. The story is good and the movie doesen't tell more than it has to. The biggest achievement however is in my point of view the political statement. It doesen't make it. Der Baader-Meinhof complex tells the story of the RAF, but never approves the actions of the group, but also doesen't disapprove them. And that is a great achievement.

An enlightening, brilliantly acted and thoroughly absorbing film .

Although being somewhat more than moderately interested in politics, I knew very little about the original activities on which this film is based. Having seen the film, I now feel vastly more knowledgeable on how world events in the late sixties and early seventies led from the emergence to the demise of this particular left wing faction. My attention was fully engaged throughout the film. I thought the screenplay brilliantly portrayed the way the mindset of the RAF developed as they became more and more convinced they were living in a police state. Acting and direction were superb throughout. In spite of the violence and repression being depicted, I was reassured by the fact that such thought provoking films can and are being made for today's cinema audiences. After seeing Die Welle (I think it was three times) earlier this year I am now very enthusiastic about German cinema and shall certainly be hoping to see Der Baader Meinhof Komplex at least once more on the big screen this year. A masterpiece of political film making. Highly recommended.

Clear, honest, simple, radiant; one of the best political films I've seen

Brilliant film about the Baader-Meinhof group, i.e. one of the most active modern terrorist groups. The film starts with showing people peacefully demonstrating against the Shah of Iran and his wife who were visiting Western Germany in the late 60s; on signal, supporters of the Shah and the police rush and senselessly beat demonstrators into pulp. The imagery is one that will not soon leave my mind, being extremely reminiscent of what happened in the G8 protests at Genoa and Gothenburg about 30 years later. Back to the film: the leftist movement is at this time very much against the police state that Western Germany has become. As the hippie 60s obviously didn't help much with turning things around, the early 70s - brought on by with the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the US carrying on their war in Vietnam with Nixon coming into power and the West German government was being accused for merely being a puppet in the hands of imperialist America, some people wanted to turn things around without using flowers and kind words. These people were seriously convinced that the word was revolution, and used kidnapping, bombs and bullets for change. This film is the story of the core of the Baader-Meinhof group, and it's close to the best political cinema I've ever seen; the direction, the acting, the script, the editing and the music...it's as if the make-up is washed away from how political films usually are, leaving the viewer to decide what's right and wrong. It's interesting to see how the Baader-Meinhof group works as the members are increasingly isolated and brain-wash each other by simply interacting with their hardcore ideals as the base. Brilliant and highly recommendable, of course no matter what your personal political ideas are.

What you see is what you get (nothing more)

I watched the movie at a teacher's screening in Wuppertal on a Sunday morning. I was quite impressed with the accurate and detailed portrayal of the RAF and the events of the so called 'German fall' (Deutscher Herbst). I myself knew of many of the events beforehand and thanks to documentaries such as Veiel's Black Box BRD and Breloer's Todesspiel I was able to compare. For the two and some hours that the movie lasted I was on the edge of my seat. None of the scenes were boring, everything was well paced (at times maybe a little too fast paced) and I felt like I was being taken back to the important past of my native country. However, at the end I felt a little empty. The documentaries I just mentioned focused on only one story, but these documentaries were better because they gave us an in-depth analysis of the opposing forces (the bourgeoisie, the elite and the socialist rebels).

The portrayal of Meinhof and Baader seems accurate, too, but often I wondered if Baader really was the small-time crook he's made out to be in the movie. Except for Meinhof and Ensslin nobody seems to have some really deep thoughts about what was (is) wrong with our society. Mohnhaupt played by Nadja Uhl isn't explained at all, she's just there all of a sudden and we just go along thinking that she is in it for the same reasons as everybody else (Which are???).That way the movie seemed a little biased, as if trying to tell us that the RAF was mainly criminal and not so much political. Although I believe that a lot of their motives were right, even though they didn't justify any of the actions.

Bruno Ganz as Herold is allowed to play his character in a way that everyone thinks of the German government at the time as a dignified and moderate administration although I don't believe that to be true (after all, Herold said that he can only cure the symptoms of the RAF disease but not the disease itself, yet he didn't do anything to make the German people understand that the RAF is not altogether wrong when it accuses the German people of laziness, cowardice and complacency).

Now, leaving the movie, I figured that there was nothing much left to talk about. The teacher material that we received was pretty useless, because it doesn't offer any interesting topics for discussion. I for one think it would be interesting to discuss the present situation (bureaucracy, war in Iraq, terrorism) with the situation of Germany in the 70's. We are still dealing with many of the problems that caused the insurgency and civil disobedience back then, yet today we don't do anything at all. We are dissatisfied with the Bush administration, we oppose the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, we suffer from a financial crisis mainly caused by the deregulated free market economy (capitalism) and we watch the divide between the rich and the poor getting bigger and bigger.

However, the youth of today doesn't protest. Why not? Maybe because we taught them well that in the end it's everyone for themselves and that it's best to be obedient, docile and commonorgarden if you want at least a little security in your life. One of the stronger scenes was the one where Ensslin accuses Meinhof of jerking off on her socialist theories instead of actually doing something. That's where you can see how Meinhof was influenced by the RAF. Finally she met some people who were willing to take action instead of just talking and philosophizing about a better world. This scene lends itself well to the follow-up scene in which Meinhof helps Baader to escape from prison. The jump from the window sill is a the same time a jump towards extremism.

Well, all in all, I think it's a good film to get people interested in Germany's past but it can only be the beginning of a more subtle analysis of what the RAF stood for and what it was trying to do.

guns and cigarettes

a few words in advance,

never could a movie dealing with the RAF reach a high average vote and lead to a general approval. It simply depends on the different emotions according to this topic. Don't forget that some 35 years ago there existed an unbelievable high support among young people for the terroristic organization whereas the majority looked with disgust at the murderers.

So watching this movie is simply not more than a check whether the director catches the already existing attitude towards this controversial topic. In my eyes, the optimal way to direct this movie would have to treat it like a partly documentary with many original television scenes connected with the presentation of the characters. What I was interested in was whether this movie is able to place the viewer inside the plot, whether one could feel the atmosphere of this extreme period of German history and whether the presented scenes are consistent with the documents one had seen in television reports before. The movie has definitely come up to my expectations. The characters are just brilliant. It is some of the best German work of acting I have ever seen, every single scenes is so consistent with the picture one has in mind. Almost nothing stays from the line of the real development. The only thing I criticize is the selection of scenes. Maybe, the killers are given to much space to call out their misplaced ideology but neither is their behavior justified nor is any sympathy given to them. There doesn't exist any scope for interpretation about who was right and who was wrong. Furthermore, a few more words could have been given to the victims of the RAF whose assassinations are presented very precisely.

All in all, it is a shocking but good movie.

Necessary

First of all this is a very important film. Just like the other "Big" film by Eichinger "Der Untergang" it confronts the German audience (and the world should it care) with some aspect of German history that people should know about. In this case the "myth" of the RAF. To everyone who lived through the seventies in Germany it is clear that the influence of the RAF on Germany can hardly be exaggerated. I was a kid but my impression at the time was that both sides were wrong. There was a constant fear of terror coming from the terrorists but also from the state. (People did not get jobs if it was suspected they were "left".) So to make a blockbuster film, even if it does not really explain the motives of the main characters involved, at least gives us some facts. Not everyone is prepared to watch documentaries or read the book by Aust, but everyone should have some thoughts or maybe discussions on the subject.

Okay, but does it succeed as a film? Not entirely. The actors as everyone agrees were excellent, the cinematography as well. You do think you are in the seventies. That in itself is amazing. The action scenes are done splendidly, especially at the beginning the riots during the visit of the Persian Shah which culminated in the shooting of a student which in turn was, at least to some extent, the origin of the rise of terror. Of course the film is episodic and there are too many characters in it, most of them are not introduced in any way and ten years of complex history cannot be told in an altogether satisfying way. But the film succeeds in giving us a sense of what was going on. The producer, Bernd Eichinger has been accused of vanity. Which is a funny thing. Of course, he is vain. He has the duty to be vain as long as he also feels a responsibility to make movies that try to tell something. And the challenge, he feels, is to say it to as many people as possible.

Better than most critics want to admit

I agree with the other comments on the following points: the film does indeed concentrate on the culprits and their actions in a documentary way (as opposed to an interpretation of the RAF's ideas and motivations from a clear-cut political standpoint). Although the victims DO appear they are not characterized more closely; the only representative of the state is Horst Herold (head of the BKA), politicians do not show up at all, the media appear only in the shape of Springer, konkret and Spiegel and even the lawyers (Haag, Croissant, Schily, Str?bele, etc.) are merged into only one (fictitious?) character. I for one do agree with this approach and if you are prepared for it you probably can live with it too. In any case, despite all the chases, shootouts and explosions it hasn't become a mere action-film.

What's more problematic is that the film follows the book by Stefan Aust VERY closely. Therefore the dramaturgy is more similar to "real life" than to a classical feature film (e.g. there are many changes in pace, several climaxes are distributed over the course of the film and a proper arc of suspense is somewhat missing). "Fortunately" real life offered a culmination of events with the Schleyer kidnapping in the "German Autumn" 1977, so that the film ends in a reasonably satisfying way. Nevertheless the end credits come a little abruptly.

The second problem is that the film tries to show virtually ALL events from the book (only some minor incidents like the Mahler detention, Peter Urbach, the burglaries in registration offices in order to steal blank passports or the visit of Jean-Paul Sartre in Stammheim are missing) so that it needs to squeeze 10 years of history into 140 minutes. The result is a film with breakneck speed at some points. The better scenes (e.g. the training camp in Jordan or the lawsuit in Stammheim) are obviously those where the film catches breath, calms down and takes its time for the actors to shine.

The quality of the acting ranges from good to fantastic (with very few exceptions like Alexandra Maria Lara, who is nothing more than wide-eyed again and who thankfully doesn't even have dialogue). Especially Martina Gedeck and Johanna Wokalek are sensational. It is THEIR film and the conflicts in Stammheim which led to Meinhof's suicide are acted Oscar-worthy. But Michael Gwisdek (Ensslin's father), Jan Josef Liefers (Peter Homann), Sebastian Blomberg (Rudi Dutschke), Nadja Uhl (Brigitte Mohnhaupt) and Hannah Herzsprung (Susanne Albrecht) are also very good.

The production values are excellent too. A lot of locations, a great deal of main and supporting roles, hundreds of extras, good special effects (mainly explosions) and a set design and costume design which creates a very coherent 70's atmosphere: you can see that the film cost a lot of money. Every cent is on the screen.

I didn't like the choice of music that much. Deep Purple's "Child in Time" is always great to hear, but the rest (Janis Joplin, The Who, Bob Dylan) is just too mainstreamy and unimaginative for my taste (but probably also very expensive). Why not use MC5, Ton Steine Scherben or Ennio Morricone's "Vamos a matar, companeros"?

Now I'm looking forward to the reactions and reviews from other countries, who probably don't know this part of German history very well. In the US I expect the criticism that there are too many naked people, too many swear words and even more cigarettes (every one in BMK smokes everywhere and at all times), in order to distract from the politics of the film ;-) "Der Baader Meinhof Komplex" isn't the masterpiece on the history of the first generation of the RAF that I had hoped for in my comments on "Todesspiel", but altogether it is a very suspenseful, fascinating, densely narrated and well acted film. Hopefully it will not be the last word on the subject, but it succeeds in giving the audience the basic RAF knowledge on which future (less neutral, more opinionated) movies can build their stories.

Mixed emotions

The movie of Edel and Eichinger is fine when it comes to sets and costumes. It seems to catch the mood of the late Sixties and Seventies very well. Also the lead actors Bleibtreu, Wokalek and Gedeck have delivered outstanding performances. Too bad, that they don't get a chance to really explore their characters: Too much else is going on in this movie, that completely loses its focus during the last hour. The closer we get to the end, the more it resembles a documentary with a few scenes of play cut in now and then.

The viewer is presented with a lot of facts - and violence - but the movie fails in decoding the often cited "myth" of the RAF. For example, I've always wondered, whether Baader was just a criminal or really politically motivated. Well, in the first half of the movie, Baader is portrayed as an outlaw, who enjoys provocation and fast cars. Later he delivers sophisticated political statements. A good movie should at least try to explain this development. DER BAADER MEINHOF KOMPLEX doesn't.