Der Baader Meinhof Komplex * Uli Edel (2008)

After a nice opening scene on a German nude beach follows a very violence report of an outrageous knockdown of a student protest against the visit of the Shah of Iran to Germany in 1967. This smack in the face seems to make clear how some of these students radicalised into the extreme left terrorist group Rote Armee Fraktion (Red Army Fraction, RAF). The next thing you know is that young men and women are prepared to go very far for their “revolution” against capitalism, the American war in Vietnam, the occupation of Palestine by Israel (helped by the Americans), etc. The group gets bigger and bigger and more and more insane and megalomanic, especially when the main people (including Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin) land in jail. In the beginning of the film, the group is linked to the French and Chinese student protests of 1968, Che Guevara, etc., lateron members of the group align with Palestine militants and a connection is even made with the 1972 Munich Olympics where the Israelian Olympic team was massacred. Edel portays the bombings, shootouts, abductions, etc. in all their violence and here and there you will see how the people from the RAF thought about certain things. You do not get to see how Edel stands in the discussion, since his film seems to go back and forth between ‘pro’ and ‘con’.
Uli Edel manages to loosen emotions, from disgust and anger for the police actions in the opening scene to disgust and anger for the vastly out of every proportion actions of the RAF. The film is harsch and heavy, the only points of light come in scarce funny scenes and some female nudity. Like “Waltz With Bashir“, this is a good film, but not a nice watch. An apparently objective view on a forgotten recent phase in history. Perhaps this film can even put the fear for Muslim terrorism in some perspective. Just one generation ago, people from our own ranks were just as mad (the idea of using a plane was already present in RAF circles). The RAF perhaps did not want to kill civilians while some parties nowadays do, but the number of actions was much larger. And are the reasons for these ideas and actions then and now not for quite the same reasons? Shouldn’t that finally make us think? “Der Baader Meinhof Komplex” shows one character who suggests to not only fight the result, but also think about the cause. Maybe this grim lesson in history could prove to be very actual.
By the way, “Die Bleierne Zeit” which I recently reviewed puts a fictionalised magnifying glass on a small part of the story.

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