Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Uli Edel: Der Baader Meinhof Komplex

One down, and all in all ... six to go. I think.

Another movie I saw weeks ago. I am slow etc. It was me, Anne Ida and C. who went. Downstairs at Vika. English title: The Baader Meinhof Complex. Gee. :-)

This movie (based on a bestselling nonfiction book) tells the story of the German terrorist organization Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF), from its inception in the late 1960s and for about a decade. The first part of the movie focuses on the origins of the RAF and the situation in which it arose, and then follows its activities for some years; the latter part deals with the imprisonment of Baader, Ensslin, Meinhof and some others, their trial and their time in prison. In between are some scenes from the attempts of these same central figures to learn terrorist tactics from Palestinian refugees in Jordan.

This is to date the most expensive movie ever made in Germany, and boy, does it show. I mean, wow. :-) There are some amazing crowd scenes that really had me on the edge of my seat, metaphorically speaking. The job of recreating the late 60s/early 70s has been brilliantly done in this movie, everything is in place (except for that Deep Purple song, which I didn't recognize anyway ;-) and it all looked extremely authentic and convincing. Fascinating, to me anyway. :-)

The actors in the main give very good performances, perhaps especially (and unsurprisingly) Martina Gedeck as Ulrike Meinhof. She does a stellar job in this movie. I was happy to see Alexandra Maria Lara again (since her fantastic performance in Der Untergang I've really admired her) – she plays rather a smaller role in this movie but does a very good job. Moritz Bleibtreu's Andreas Baader seems rather, hm, unhinged … to the point where sometimes I almost questioned how he could evade the authorities for so long with such poor impulse control. >:-) I don't know enough to say whether this is historically correct, but I'm inclined to think that it is. Certainly both Baader and Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek) are portrayed as extremely focused and driven individuals. Makes one wonder what they could have achieved if, rather than devote their lives to political terrorism, they had become, say, doctors or engineers instead.

I didn't know a lot about this part of European history before seeing this movie – that was in fact one of the main reasons why I wanted to see it. Although my perception may be skewed by that very lack of knowledge, I did feel that the movie gave me insight into the period and the events in question. It 'feels' authentic … which of course one should be careful about trusting … it gives the impression of being the product of a lot of research and a lot of careful work. I learned something of the time period and of the events portrayed. What I felt was rather more lacking was insight into the motivations of the characters and in some instances their personal history. As an example, I'm pretty sure that Andreas Baader was a petty criminal before he became a terrorist. And yet politics is supposed to be the only thing that drew him to terrorism? I'm not convinced. Perhaps to the German viewer, knowing more about these things in advance, this would not seem as a weakness in the movie. But to me, relatively ignorant of the political details of the period, further development of motivations would have been valuable.

Of course, I generally don't understand the irrationality of any & all acts of terrorism, so perhaps it's doubtful whether I would have been able to really understand their motivations no matter how much it was explained to me. ;-)

Overall, this was an excellent movie – extremely well made, an interesting story, with wonderful performances by some very talented actors (although also some scenery-chewing which could perhaps have been toned down, but you can't have everything). Some great action sequences and crowd scenes. Very realistic. Somewhat overlong, and the script isn't perfect … but how much can you ask, really. Well worth watching & highly recommended.

Protest is when I say this does not please me.
Resistance is when I ensure what does not please me occurs no more.

Ulrike Meinhof, 1968


Paz said...

no Keanu and it was still good
Sorry would love to have the time to see this too, very interesting time and environment which created the RAF

Leisha Camden said...

Yeah, see, so now who is it who has a one-track mind?? >:-)

If you ever get the chance to see this, I recommend it, it was a very interesting story and a fantastic recreation of the period.

Paz said...

One track mind?? (usually in Ireland that expression means that someone see's sex in everything)

Leisha Camden said...

And I supposedly see Keanu in everything ... ? Or, wait, how was that again ...

Paz said...

forgive me, it was my grammer and should have used my words :) that should have read,
what no Keanu ? and it was still good!

Leisha Camden said...