The Baader Meinhof Complex Review

October 20, 2008 by  
Filed under Film Reviews

The Baader Meinhof Complex is screening as part of the London Film Festival

Sunday 26th October, 9:00pm, London Odeon West End

Tuesday 28th October, 12:30pm, London Odeon West End

So many events of the past are simplified by the passage of time that it is often difficult to portray that moment with the density it deserves.

The Baader Meinhof Complex, the latest among a spree of impressive German releases (Downfall, The Lives of Others), has no such trouble.

With a title acknowledging complication from the outset, the film violently blasts through this obstacle and the result is something quite breathtaking.

Set against a backdrop of 1970s Germany, The Baader Meinhof Complex tells the story of the Red Army Faction, the left wing militant group shaped by the radicalised children of the Nazi generation, known in the early years as The Baader Meinhof Gang (a name that was formed from those of its two main leaders, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof). Strongly opposed to American Imperialism and the West German establishment, the group became international terrorists.

Competently tackling questions about the fraught practice of ideals, TBMC flicks seamlessly from moments of unbearable violence to rational yet often hypocritical conversation. Meinhof, played by a brilliant Martina Gedeck leading an outstanding cast, is a left-wing journalist. Increasingly, ahem, frustrated with the lonely practice of mere “theoretical masturbation” as so perceptively put her fellow activists, she joins them in their big terror-orgy. Fans of Western music and self-professedly liberal (boobs shots are in abundance), they’re nonetheless sick of inaction, believing it to perpetuate a state of oppression.

The pivotal scene of Meinhof’s leap from faith to action is dealt with superbly. Faced with a choice- to stay behind among the aftermath of the group’s attack or jump out of the window after them- she jumps. And Bruno Ganz’s performance as Horst Herold, the head of the German police force, is particularly dazzling. An authoritative challenger to the lucidity of Meinhof’s radical writings, he virtuously seeks a more long term solution endeavouring to understand the group’s motives (rather than just gunning them down in totalitarian rage).

Unquestionably, The Baader Meinhof Complex will shake you to the very core. If you thought that standing up for what you believed in was a simple case of, well, standing up, watch this film, and think again.

Susan Allen

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  1. Patsy Erickson says: