Saturday, January 15, 2011

Film Review: The Baader Meinhof Complex

I had previously known about the Red Army Faction in passing over various European history from the past 40 years but this film greatly increased my knowledge base regarding the group.

Generally regarded (at least in every account I have seen) as a mostly accurate portrayal of the RAF terrorist group and its beginnings.  The film doesn't include details surrounding Andreas Baader's homosexual prostitution nor his heroin addiction (gee, there are two characteristics I'd want for my group's leader) but otherwise creates a reasonable portrayal of the main characters.

The director here walks a fine line in trying to accurately portray what are mostly loathful human beings while not so turning off its audience that they lose interest.  And he (Uli Edel) succeeds.  I was frequently torn between despising the characters for their actions and darkly admiring them for their determination and sense of purpose.  One thing that can be said for the characters in the movie and in real life is that they were certainly passionate about their beliefs--something missing from many these days.

That is not to say that the film glorifies Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and the rest.  They come off here as dumb, naive, over-educated, hypocritical, untalented, self important criminals, who  as is quoted at one point in the film, end up with more of their members dead or in prison than existing as an operational unit.  Intelligent and skilled this group was not--despite their pretensions to the contrary.

I watched this film on the recommendation of a friend of a friend who said it was on par (in terms of well done violence) as say something along the lines of Heat.  That is not the case.  Though the film is well done, it just doesn't have the emotional weight (despite its non-fiction topic) that Heat does.  Nor does it feel as if you are watching a documentary either.  However, if you want to learn more about one of the worst (in many senses of the word) terrorist groups to have sprung out the moronic social revolutions of the late 1960's--this is a relatively entertaining way to do it.

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