Director, Uli Edel (Last Exit to Brooklyn), and writer/producer, Bernd Eichinger (Downfall), have joined forces again to tell the incredible true story behind the militant terrorist group, the Red Army Faction, that wrecked havoc on Germany during the 70′s. The film is based on the book, of the same title, by Stephen Aust. As a young journalist, Aust, worked at the same magazine as RAF leader, Ulrike Meinhof and knew many people associated with the group.
The film stars Martina Gedeck (The Lives of Others), Moritz Bleibtreau, Johanna Wokalek, and Bruno Ganz (Downfall) as the three leaders of the gang and the police chief who is trying to bring them down.
The film was released in Germany last year, and has finally reached the U.S. and was well worth the wait. It is a long, intense political drama that leaves you horrified at the state of Germany during the Vietnam era, and shows how quickly people can change when given too
Check out the plot, the good, and the bad…
The Baader Meinhof Complex follows the rise of the German terrorist organization, the Red Army Faction, who committed terrorist acts in Germany stemming from their dissatisfaction with the German government during the Vietnam era. What started as a small, disorganized group of idealists blowing up department stores, eventually grows into a full-blown terrorist organization kidnapping and murdering both citizens and government officials. The leaders of the group, Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader, and Gudrun Ensslin all vow to never let Fascism dominate their country again. They begin to take bloody measures for a cause that is, ultimately, lost as their egos become more inflated and lose touch with reality. Initially, the group gains a lot of public support, but it eventually sours as the group’s methods become violent and brutal.
- The Acting: The three lead actors did a fantastic job portraying these complex characters. Martina Gedeck does an exceptional job as journalist turned extremist, Ulrike Meinhof. Aside from the three actors doing an amazing job, the police chief, played by Bruno Ganz, gave an exceptional performance as the only one who understands what makes the group tick. Even the actors with smaller roles did a wonderful job as the spirited young revolutionaries.
- The Story: With a group like the Red Army Faction, there is obviously quite a bit that went on over the course of it’s existence and it would be difficult to pick out the “highlights” of their history. That being said, it really felt like they covered enough for the audience get a good picture of the politics and conflict within the group, without over-doing it.
- The Action Sequences: The action sequences throughout the film are actually reenactments of the events that took place. Let us just say, these scenes could seriously rival those of any action movie. They were incredibly intense and disturbing, especially when you add in the fact tat they actually happened in real life.
- The Filming: Many of the shots in the film were absolutely amazing and left me astounded. I can’t say enough good things about the look of this film.
- The Length: I really hesitate to list this as a bad thing, but I do feel it is worth mentioning. The movie clocks in at 2 hours and 24 minutes. It is a tad long and it is filled with a lot of information, but it was time well spent. However, towards the end of the movie, I was getting a bit antsy and wondering when it was going to wrap up.
- Getting to know the characters: There are a lot of characters in the film, many of which remain nameless. Getting to know the characters was a bit difficult at times, although in the end I felt like it wrapped itself up quite nicely. At the beginning, It was easy to miss out on some of the dialogue and connections between the characters because you were too busy trying to remember which character was which and if they had appeared before. This is definitely a film you need to see multiple times to truly see all the subtleties of it.
This film is definitely one of those that is best watched a few times. It is a fantastic film with a great story and cast. It is certainly not the type of film to see if you want mindless entertainment that is spoon-fed to you. After walking out of the film, it is incredibly saddening and horrifying that these events occurred, and not that long ago, but it is seldom talked about. If you liked The Lives of Others, I highly recommended this film.
Watch the trailer below…
The Baader Meinhof Complex will be released in Los Angeles on August 28 and in San Francisco on September 4.