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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
TBC
Cast
Martina Gedeck
Moritz Bleibtreu
Johanna Wokalek
Alexandra Maria Lara.
Directors
Uli Edel.
Screenwriters
Bernd Eichinger.
Running Time
150mins minutes

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The Baader Meinhof Complex
The Richard and Judy of German terrorists get the terrific biopic treatment


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Plot
In 1960s Germany, journalist Ulrike Meinhof (Gedeck) joins violent activists Andreas Baader (Bleibtreu) and Gudrun Ensslin (Wokalek) in the Red Army Faction. They carry out a series of terrorist attacks and inspire many followers, but fall out even before they are caught and put on trial.


Review
The Baader Meinhof Complex

The title of this long, gripping, German political-criminal docudrama is double-edged. Its “complex” is a pattern of destructive, neurotic behaviour — on the part of Western society as a whole, not just the few who feel terrorism is the only way to effect social change. But also, more obviously, it’s amazingly complicated. Director Uli Edel, returning from the TV movie wilderness (his last theatrical effort was The Little Vampire!), and producer-writer Bernd Eichinger don’t spoonfeed the audience the way even superior Hollywood political movies like JFK or Munich do. There are no blackboard diagrams or ‘who’s who’ lists to guide you through ten years of tangled, fraught history, and viewers are trusted to bring their own sense of moral outrage.

The spine of the film is an awards-quality performance from Martina Gedeck (The Lives Of Others) as Ulrike Meinhof, whose personal journey transforms her — in British terms — from Polly Toynbee to Myra Hindley. No-one just gets up one morning and decides to be a terrorist, and the film shows a range of events, both public (the attempted assassination of a youth leader, a vicious attack on peaceful demonstrators) and personal (a casually unfaithful husband), which spur a nice working mum to violence. Gudrun Ensslin, played terrifyingly by Johanna Wokalek, is the Spider Queen of the revolution, ever nagging the less worldly Andreas Baader towards bigger outrages.

There are vivid performances from the outstanding cast, but the film is more concerned with getting the facts straight than delivering a comforting explanation for its characters’ actions. It shows the privileged Germans irritating Third World rebels when they treat a Jordanian training camp as an adventure holiday, and defuses charges of glamorising terrorism by showing their hypocrisies (Baader is furious when someone steals his car) and lack of control over successor factions. It also effectively demolishes the myth of revolutionary solidarity and sexual freedom (perhaps the most appealing aspect of the Faction lifestyle — drawn more from Godard or Truffaut than reality) as the comrades plot bitterly against each from the outset.


Extras

Baader Meinhoff Complex, The Baader Meinhoff Complex, The
Released: 30 April 2009

TBC


Verdict
Fascinating history, very good movie — but demanding, and its lack of easy answers will frustrate some. Lessons about 21st century terrorism are implicit, but not overly stressed.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Baader Meinhof Complex
Empire Star Rating

RE: The Baader Meinhof Complex

I was enthralled and outraged in equal measure. Just superb. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wgfuzzydunlop1 at 03:01, 10 February 2011 | Report This Post


This is what you call explosive and electrifying. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 05:30, 09 January 2010 | Report This Post


I just don't get it.

30 minutes in - I couldn't care less about any of the characters. Potentially fascinating story, well shot and crafted...just fact over insight. Selfish people doing selfish things. Erm...I just don't get it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hewesy at 21:16, 04 October 2009 | Report This Post


RE: scootster says

L: gordon livey i thought this film was awesome the switch between film and real live footage was breath taking this movie mustve been a nightmare to edit & i reckon they got it right an amazin movie i must admit i didnt know much about the goings on although with the flashing images of historic news events my mind gave me flash backs this is one hell of a move from downfall which was also a great movie but the effort to bare the facts here was unbeleivable it was like the best class h... More

Posted by dropkickbhoy at 17:57, 20 May 2009 | Report This Post


scootster says

i thought this film was awesome the switch between film and real live footage was breath taking this movie mustve been a nightmare to edit & i reckon they got it right an amazin movie i must admit i didnt know much about the goings on although with the flashing images of historic news events my mind gave me flash backs this is one hell of a move from downfall which was also a great movie but the effort to bare the facts here was unbeleivable it was like the best class history lesson ever, th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gordon livey at 19:02, 19 May 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Baader Meinhof Complex

In 1960s Germany, journalist Ulrike Meinhof (Gedeck) joins violent activists Andreas Baader (Bleibtreu) and Gudrun Ensslin (Wokalek) in the Red Army Faction. They carry out a series of terrorist attacks and inspire many followers, but fall out even before they are caught and put on trial.   A real slice of a German history. An honest look at a painful period where some young people fought against unfair invasions made by countries with false methods and terrorism. All in all it is... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by m_er at 22:51, 14 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: The Baader Meinhof Complex

Great film enjoyed this a lot   Long but interesting 8.5/10   ... More

Posted by filmburner30 at 14:39, 02 December 2008 | Report This Post


RE: The Baader Meinhof Complex

Really liked this it seems German Cinema is in rude health and wiling to approach raw matters  from its History,   Uli Edel who lost his way in Hollywood delivers a hard edged and interesting story with Downfalls producer Bernard Eichnger.   Yes  its long but this is a story which had to be told and im glad it was   8.5/10   ... More

Posted by filmburner30 at 14:37, 02 December 2008 | Report This Post


RE: The Baader Meinhof Complex

I enjoyed this from a social-cynic angle - i.e. the Bader-Meinhoff group were the negative evolution of pretentious political groups you'd often encounter around university campuses. I liked that added detail. ... More

Posted by rancorpuppet at 14:04, 01 December 2008 | Report This Post


RE: The Baader Meinhof Complex

I really struggled with this.  I saw it not long after watching the sublime  for Algiers was perhaps unfortunate for this film.   /i] dealt with similar circumstances - violent but charismatic social revolutionaries/para-military reactionaries (delete as appropriate...) but in a far more poetic and evocative manner.  der Mienhof ke a two-and-a-half-hour bombardment of empty rhetoric rather than crafted or pointed dialogue. The action set-pieces ... More

Posted by M at 18:34, 26 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: The Baader Meinhof Complex

Director: l Screenwriter:Eichinger Starring: Bleibtreu, Martina Gedeck, Johanna Wokalek, Bruno Ganz Synopsis Based on the early years of the West German terrorist group Red Army Faction, which was originally found by Andreas Baader (Bleibtreu) and journalist Ulrike Meinhof (Gedeck). Review During the last few years, this new wave of German cinema has pleased Westerners with their films about serious topics on German history, such as Downfalle Lives of Othersh these f... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 19:50, 25 November 2008 | Report This Post


The Baader Meinhof Complex

This multi-faceted drama based on Stefon Aust’s best-selling novel, bravely adopts a verite account of the Red Army faction (RAF), a left-wing terrorist group that operated within Germany from 1968 to the German autumn in 1977. Opening with the rather jaunty, feel-good Janis Joplin tune ‘Mercedes Benz’, ‘Der Baader Meinhof Komplex’ immediately transports us back to 1967. Where we see three politically frustrated individuals – Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck)... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Danni at 13:40, 20 November 2008 | Report This Post


Frustrating, flawed and compelling in parts.

They definitely weren't messing when they put complex in the title!!! I felt that there were too many stands to the story they left unexplored (i mean how were these young kids able to afford this operation) and I was still unclear about what made these students turn terrorists, oh apart from the war in Vietnam and American imperialism I mean blowing up stuff is always gonna help the cause!!! I just found them a bit thick and their motivations for the extreme things they did not justified, I do... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ann100026 at 11:41, 19 November 2008 | Report This Post


Der Baader Meinhof Komplex

As a history lesson The Baadar-Meinhof Complex can't be beat - no stone is left unturned , as it gives a (very) detailed account of their story. . At 150 mins , it outstays its welcome a bit. But,it is filled with good performances by all of the actors , especially Martina Gedeck as Meinhof It is a fascinating watch and there's a lot to like. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 12:46, 17 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Fascinating and absorbing.

What is a wrong with you people?   This was without a doubt the best foreign film that I have seen since 'City Of God.' It had me mesmerised from start to finish and I thought Moritz Bleibtrau's performance was Oscar-worthy as rogue and rebel leader Andreas Baader. I thought the script was slick and absorbing and I loved it from start to finish. It was very difficult to have any sympathy with the RAF but I thought the characters were amazing.   Arguably the best film I have se... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Goodfella at 22:52, 16 November 2008 | Report This Post


Fascinating and absorbing.

http://volume124.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/baader-meinho f-complex-2008-dir-uli-edel/ ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stuffit at 01:32, 13 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Too much detail, too little soul

I agree, there is just too much going on in the film without explaination. Even I (who studied german history for several years) wasn't totally on top of things all the time (I had to look up some stuff afterwards).   There is going to be a longer version of the film on german television next year (like they did with Downfall) which hopefully will explain things a little better. ... More

Posted by grucl at 06:56, 11 November 2008 | Report This Post


Too much detail, too little soul

The film is based on Stefan Aust's factual roundup of the creation and falldown of Germany's Red Army Faction and it seems like screenwriter/producer Bernd Eichinger and director Uli Edel wanted to say far too much in their adaptation. While staying close to the facts, it is a test of patiente for the audience, especially for non-German viewers unfamiliar with the story. At the same time it feels rushed, passing through headline-making events over decades of German terrorism, without a clear pro... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by zenotrapp at 12:47, 10 November 2008 | Report This Post


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