Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Baader Meinhof Complex

This Oscar-nominated Best Foreign Language film is opens theatrically in New York on August 21st, in L.A. on August 28th, San Francisco on September 4th and expanding from there. Set in West Germany in the tumultuous 70s, the film explores the terrorist group known as the Red Army Faction, or RAF.

Moritz Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run) plays Andreas Baader and Martina Gedeck (The Lives of Others) portrays Ulrike Meinhof, the title characters and leaders of the radical group. The film, directed by Uli Edel, captured the verisimilitude of the period with a grainy documentary style.

Of course I was aware of the societal upheaval in America during the late sixties/early seventies, but as The Baader Meinhof Complex depicts, that upheaval was happening worldwide. In West Germany, the still fresh scars from the Nazi era created an environment that made the civil unrest of the United States look tame in comparison.

The film doesn't shy away from portray the violence and anarchy. At two and a half hours, it painstakingly outlines the ten year reign of the RAF. I could deal with the butt-achingly long running time, the English subtitles and German language, and even the excessive violence. But what was lacking in the film for me was a sense of character development, motivation and empathy. Although creating a sense of empathy for a group of terrorists would be a difficult task under any circumstances, I really had no sense of why these people needed to do what they did. After being caught, arrested and put on trial, they had the audacity to whine about being mistreated due to being put in isolation.

Seriously? You blow up people and what do you expect? Fluffy pillows and pudding pops? Maybe post-9/11 makes it difficult to see terrorists and bombers as anything but heroic, so I was more caught up rooting for the Fascists to take the RAF down than anything else. But as a historical documentation of an intriguing period of time, The Baader Meinhof Complex makes for compelling viewing. If you're a history buff or political junkie unafraid of subtitles, I suggest checking it out when it hits your town or is released on DVD.

1 comment:

  1. This is so good! I can't wait to see it! I found out that at the Angelika Film Center in New York, they are having the show at a discounted price! Here's the link Tell everyone :) Have a good weekend!