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The Baader Meinhof Complex


Year: 2008 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Uli Edel 
Starring: Moritz Bleibtreu, Martina Gedeck, Johanna Wokalek, Bruno Ganz  
An image from The Baader Meinhof Complex

After successful German war-time films like The Lives of Others and The Counterfeiters, here comes a different one with people taking history into their own hands. Rather than helping others, they kill them, and are therefore widely known as terrorists. Although the group exist in a post-war period, it does not stop the movie feeling like a war film due to the attacks.

The Baader Meinhof Complex depicts the early years of the West German terrorist group, the Red Army Faction (RAF). The group was founded in the German student movement of the late 1960s. The name of the film comes from two of the founding members, Andreas Baader (Bleibtreu) and Ulrike Meinhof (Gedeck). The aim of such radical politics was to create a more human society, through inhuman approaches like bombing and murders. Of course, they have to face the German police, led by Chief Horst Herold (Ganz).

Following closely to Stefan Aust's non-fiction book of the same title, the time-span of the film starts from the founding in 1967/8 to the German Autumn in 1977, but the long span does not stop the film containing all the events in a documentary fashion.

The film benefits hugely from the terrific acting talents of both Bleibtreu and Gedeck, stars of the famous German films Run Lola Run and The Lives of Others respectively. The protagonists are terrorists, putting the audience on the other side of the story which makes the film so fascinating, breathtaking and provocative to watch. The film is demonstrative and the script is cracking.

It is essential for university students to gain some awareness of terrorism. The damage of such terrorist groups cannot be over-exaggerated and the film provides an excellent medium for us to learn about terrorism in the twenty-first century.

Jeffrey Choi

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Screenings of this film:

2008/2009 Summer Term (35mm)