The Baader Meinhof Complex (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner13/11/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 150 mins

Impressively directed and superbly written, this is an engaging, thought-provoking and thoroughly gripping thriller with terrific performances from two of Germany's biggest stars.

What's it all about?
Directed by Uli Edel and based on the book by Stefan Aust, The Baader Meinhof Complex examines the rise and fall of the Red Army Faction in 1970s Germany. Martina Gedeck stars as Ulrike Meinhof, a prominent left-wing journalist who falls in with Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek) and her boyfriend Douglas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu) when she gets involved with the anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist student movement after witnessing a violent demonstration in Berlin.

Together with Baader and Ensslin, Meinhof forms the Red Army Faction (RAF), with the intention of leading an armed resistance fight against the political status quo in Germany, as well as their perceived ties to the American involvement in Vietnam. As the group progress to robbing banks and carrying out bombings and violent attacks, they find themselves hunted by Horst Herold (Bruno Ganz), the head of the Federal German Police Force. However, their eventual imprisonment brings unexpected political power.

The Good
The posters for the film pose the question ‘Revolutionaries or terrorists?’ but the script takes a remarkably even-handed approach, refusing to cast judgment and allowing the audience to make up their own minds. As such, Meinhof's character provides the focus of the story and it's fascinating to pinpoint the moment when her character ceases to retain our sympathy.

Bleibtreu and Gedeck are terrific in the lead roles: Bleibtreu expertly conveys Baader's evident charisma, despite the fact that he's perhaps the least idealistic (certainly the least sympathetic) member of the group. Similarly, Gedeck is superb as the fiercely committed Meinhof, prepared to abandon even her own children in pursuit of the cause she believes in.

The Great
Edel keeps things moving at an exciting pace and orchestrates several terrific sequences, particularly the courtroom scenes. The film also gains a powerful level of authenticity by filming in several actual locations, most notably Stuttgart's Stammheim Prison.

Worth seeing?
The Baader Meinhof Complex is powerful, provocative and deeply engaging film-making. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

The Baader Meinhof Complex (18)
The Baader Meinhof Complex has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 25/03/2019 15:47

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