Movie Review: "The Baader-Meinhof Complex"

This terrorist gang, which operated in Germany in the 1970s, was very effective.  It specialized in bank robberies and murder, and its successes terrified the German population and nearly brought that country, then under Chancellor Willy Brandt leading the Socialist Party, to a collapse.

The gang killed their opponents, who were leading members of the government, by riding by on motorbikes and gunning them down in their cars.  The leaders of the gang were two middle-class people, Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu) and Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck). 

The trial of the gang leaders and others by a German court reminded me of the scenes in old newsreels showing the outburst of the chief judge in Nazi Germany after the failure of von Stauffenberg to assassinate Hitler.  At that trial the chief judge yelled at the defendants in an unsympathetic way, as does the chief judge in this film, creating sympathy for the defendants who apparently were given much greater liberty to engage in outbursts than I believe would have been tolerated in a U.S. court.  Their sympathizers engaged in horrendous conduct, yelling and applauding the statements of the defendants, in the courtroom itself.  

Before conviction, all of the defendants died in prison at the same time from gunshot wounds.  There has been an ongoing debate as to whether they committed suicide or were killed by their jailors. The movie attempts to resolve the mystery.

Two problems I had with the film were that the subtitles were too small making them difficult to read and that they did not remain on the screen long enough to adequately read.  Nevertheless, it is an amazing movie and well worth your time. (In German, English, French and Arabic, with English subtitles.)

Presented by

Ed Koch was mayor of NYC from 1978 to 1989. He's credited with restoring fiscal stability to the city and creating affordable housing. He's also a film buff. More

Mayor Koch saved New York City from bankruptcy and restored the pride of New Yorkers during his three terms as mayor from 1978-1989. He restored fiscal stability by placing the city on a GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices) balanced budget. He created a housing program that provided more than 150,000 units of affordable housing and created New York City's first merit judicial selection system. Prior to being mayor, Mr. Koch served for nine years as a congressman and two years as a member of the New York City Council. He attended City College of New York from 1941 to 1943. He was drafted into the Army his last year of college and served with the 104th Infantry Division. He received two battle stars and was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1946. He received his LL.B. degree from the New York University School of Law in 1948 and began to practice law immediately thereafter. He is currently a partner in the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP and hosts a call-in radio program on Bloomberg AM 1130 (WBBR). Mr. Koch appears weekly on NY1 television and is the author of ten autobiographical books.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus


A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book


The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"


This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.


What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Entertainment

Just In