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The Baader-Meinhof Complex

Year: 2008
Production Co: Constantin Film Produktion
Director: Uli Edel
Writer: Uli Edel
Cast: Martina Gedeck, Moritz Bleibtreu, Johanna Wokalek

Writer/director Uli Edel has a fantastic eye for the period. Like the recent Farewell, he takes care of every conceivable detail of 60s/70s West Germany just the way you imagine it, from the hairstyles to the style of speech.

The story's not quite as successful, feeling a little like it goes for too long in certain directions (though it's no doubt fairly historically accurate) and the European style of minimalist acting giving me few clues about why people do what they do. The lead character Ulrike (Gedeck – the Meinhof of the title), is particularly hard to read as the journalist who falls in with a terrorist gang.

It tells the story of the Red Army Faction, a group of young Germans so incensed with US imperialism – the war in Vietnam a particular bugbear – they organised robberies and bombings throughout Germany to protest, even going as far as training at a Jordanian paramilitary camp.

Whether Edel wants you to think so or not, I found most members of the group (especially ringleader Baader, who looks so much like Gael Garcia Bernal it's spooky) to be little more than thugs who wanted to spend their days shagging and trying to avoid getting real jobs, latching onto their beliefs about genocide in Vietnam as an excuse for a never-ending party.

The movie depicts them as secretive but never as organised as they thought they were, due to egotistical infighting and their tendency to open fire on cops in broad daylight.

It's a good historical document, and while it could have been a little easier to follow, it probably would have just ended up an overly emotional, American studio-style movie if it had been.

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