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BAADER MEINHOF KOMPLEX

Director: ULI EDEL

GERMANY • 2008 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 150 MIN


THE TANGLED, BLOODY SAGA OF THE TERRORIST GANG WHO BROUGHT FEAR AND HAVOC TO ’70s GERMANY IS BROUGHT TO THE SCREEN IN THIS POWERFUL HISTORICAL RECREATION WITH OBVIOUS RESONANCE FOR OUR OWN TROUBLED TIMES.
Ulrike Meinhof (German star Martina Gedeck) starts out as a left-leaning journalist radicalised by ’68-inspired protests conflating the Vietnam War with the West German establishment. When she encounters Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu), he’s the charismatic firebrand urging an activist group to translate their rhetoric into headlinegrabbing action. Soon, Meinhof isn’t just reporting on the news, but making it for herself as the so-called Red Army Faction attacks U.S. military targets on West German soil. It’s not long however, as the death toll mounts and the cell find themselves training in the Middle East with Palestinian fighters, before the liberation-struggle ideology fades into the background and terror seemingly becomes an end in itself. Writer-producer Bernd Eichinger previously brought Germany’s darkest days to the screen in Downfall, and he weaves myriad real-life incidents into a compelling through-line which never loses sight of the innocent victims littering the gang’s rise to notoriety. Little expense has been spared in rendering the various atrocities and the subsequent show-trial at Stammheim prison as convincing as possible, while Christiane F. director Uli Edel mounts the carnage with gut-wrenching punch. The centre of gravity though is always Bruno Ganz as Germany’s top counterterrorism expert, whose reminder that stopping such lethal zealotry involves understanding the circumstances which gave rise to it in the first place remains as true today as it was then. — Trevor Johnston.

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