Movie Review: "The Baader-Meinhof Complex"

By Ed Koch
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http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2009/09/movie-review-the-baader-meinhof-complex/26562/

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.)

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2009/09/movie-review-the-baader-meinhof-complex/26562/