Review: The Baader Meinhof Complex

Terrorists get away with murder in an ill-judged drama.


By Gerald Aaron, November 13, 2008
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There is no doubting the dramatic power of director Uli Edel's long but compelling account of the violent left-wing militants who terrorised Germany during the 1960s and '70s.

There were times, I felt, when the screenplay, based on Stefan Aust's book, tended rather too much towards hagiography by portraying major protagonists more as heroes rather than the violent urban terrorists they were.

This despite that fact Edel's unsparing and bloodily graphic approach does not dilute the horror of the various bombings, shootouts and brutal executions carried out by the Baader Meinhof gang. I also sometimes felt the various deaths of gang members in prison were presented rather too much like martyrdom instead of the justifiable consequence of their bloody actions.

Nevertheless there is a great deal to admire. In a gallery of fine performances, Moritz Bleibtrau as Andreas Baader, Martina Gedeck as left-wing journalist Ulrike Meinhof are outstanding, and, despite its length (some two and a half hours), the film grips throughout.

Particularly chilling were the vividly staged scenes of the police violently attacking demonstrators during a visit by the Shah of Persia to Berlin in June 1967. They seemed all demonstrate that police brutality in Germany had seemingly largely stayed unchanged since the 1930s.

    Last updated: 2:58pm, February 18 2011