on 22 April 2009
I'll echo what others have said about the film. Namely, that it's a very graphic re-telling of a fascinating true story, which remains fairly faithful to Stefan Aust's excellent source material. Sure, the plot flatlines somewhat towards the end, but what film these days couldn't do with losing around 30 minutes from its running time? Highly recommended, in other words.
Unfortunately, the DVD presentation is shambolic. In particular, the subtitles (which are hard-wired on) are tiny. If you've got anything less than a 28-inch TV, it's unlikely you'll be able to read them without sitting right next to the screen.
So while the film gets a solid 4 stars, this DVD gets a disappointing 1 - for an overall mark of 2 stars.
on 7 January 2009
To say this film was `graphic' would not do it justice as it is rare to watch scenes where the sense of bullets ricocheting off walls and wood splintering with each shot sounds and looks realistic. There is no glorification of the RAF (Red Army Faction) in this film as they were portrayed as murderers of a ruthless sort with apparently many reasons to fight and protest but sadly, none of the causes seemed blindingly obvious nor obtainable. The killing of US solders in Germany, a banker in his own home and the serious injury of a judge's wife being a few of the graphic examples. Baader himself is portrayed as a 70s version of an utter detestable hooligan with a gun while Meinhof is a pitiful character who seemed to lose her way although she seemed the most intellectual and level headed of them all. It was difficult to remain interested as the film went on (and on) as the killing kept occurring, the violence never ending and the prison scenes dull. Arrests of the original group members led to new factions springing up with new characters arriving with no real clarity as to who they were other than they killed more than the originals, if that were possible. However, it was a good film from the educational point of view, i.e. finding out more about a trouble period in Germany's history but it was far too long to keep the real interest going.
on 17 August 2014
German screenwriter, producer and director Uli Edel`s fifth feature film which he co-wrote with German filmmaker Bern Eichinger, is an adaptation of a book from 1985 by German Journalist Stefan Aust. It premiered in Germany, was shot on locations in Germany, Italy and Morocco and is a Germany-France-Czech Republic co-production which was produced by producer Bernd Eichinger. It tells the story about three children of the Second World War who following the attempted murder of a German student named Rudi Dutschke, the killing of a German student named Benno Ohrnesorg, the execution of Argentine physician and author Che Guevara, the assassination of American pastor and activist Martin Luther King and American attorney and politician Robert F. Kennedy, the escalation of U.S. bombings in Vietnam, the German student movement, the Paris student riots, the Northern Ireland civil rights movements` first civil rights march and the same year as Australian author Germaine Greer published a book about second-wave feminism, founded an organization.
Distinctly and precisely directed by German filmmaker Uli Edel, this finely paced and somewhat fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints, draws an informative and involving portrayal of a German daughter, mother, sister and author named Ulrike Meinhof, a German daughter, mother, sister and trained elementary school teacher named Gudrun Ensslin and a German son, brother and father named Andreas Baader who met each other in the late 1960s, and who due to their common political views regarding imperialism, neo-fascism and authoritarianism started the first generation of the Baader-Meinhof group. While notable for its versatile milieu depictions, reverent cinematography by cinematographer Rainer Klausmann, production design by production designer Bernd Lepel and costume design by costume designer Birgit Missal, this character-driven and narrative-driven story about the history of terrorism in Germany and dehumanization as a result of ideological extremism which recreates a period in time with counterculture and cold-war when the former leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany named Willy Brandt (1913-1992) was president of the Federal Republic of Germany, the eugenistic legislation in Sweden regarding compulsory sterilization was formally abolished and French actress Isabelle Carré was born, depicts some abridged studies of character and contains a timely score by composers Peter Hinderthür and Florian Tessloff.
This reflectively conversational, historic and cinematographic reconstruction of real events from the late 2000s which is set mostly in postwar Germany in the late 1960s and 1970s when German students who due to being German citizens were being blamed for the crimes committed by their parents` generation protested against a new emergency legislature in the former capital of West Germany called Bonn and Palestinian leader of the Fatah party Yasser Arafat was elected as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which chronicles the militant activities of the Red Army Faction and where collectivism surpasses individualism and turns into unjustifiable left-wing extremism whilst ones humanity is abandoned for a perceived greater cause, is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrative structure, subtle character development, rhythmic continuity, abrupt film editing, multiple perspectives, use of archival footage and reverently credible acting performances by German actor Moritz Bleibtreu and German actresses Martina Gedeck and Johanna Wokalek. A densely political, virtuously demystifying and atmospheric narrative feature.
on 1 January 2016
In German with English subtitles - this is a fascinating study of the mentality of the group who became known as the Baader Meinhof. They were "home grown" terrorists - but why? This film perhaps sheds some light on how they became who they were. This film is totally unsuitable for youngsters, but I did find it interesting. It is a classic in its own way, and for those with an interest in that period of German history, certainly worth watching.
on 24 September 2014
Amazing movie. You will have to repeatedly remind yourself that this is a true story, especially during the shoot outs and chases. You will want to watch it again. It is extremely truthful about what happened and the characters themselves. Good for all age groups, but try to imagine the start of this as Germany's transition in relation to the postwar generation, the Vietnam War and the emergence of European youth. Well-made and subtitles comfortable and typical of the quality German movies in recent times.
I remember those days. I was a young ex-pat living in Germany during the RAF's heydey, and I remember well the sense of dread and impending doom this group managed to inculcate in the society. Especially, I remember the Mogadishu crisis; unfortunately, this episode I feel was rather neglected inthe movie.
It was therefore fascinating to get behind the scenes of the story, to get beneath the skin of the main protagonist. I'm not sure how true-to-life the movie is, but it paints Andreas Baader as a hot-blooded gangster who just happened to find a cause into which to focus his unreigned aggression. The two women Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Enslinn came across as far more intelligent, and more human as a consequence. In particular, the split in Meinhof's personality becomes clear. According to the film, this was a woman, a mother, with all the right instincts and a deep sense of justice; then "something happened". That sense of justice hardened into a curtain behind which lost herself. What a waste of a basically good human being.
on 25 April 2009
I was so looking forward to watching this movie and then disappointment set in. My TV is 29" and I could hardly read the subtitles - they were so small and illegible and hard-coded (non-removable), especially when the background picture was bright. What a sloppy DVD manufacturing of a very good movie!!!! As if no one ever checked it during the process of making the DVDs!!!!!
on 2 February 2011
A very interesting movie about the Baader Meinhof Gang (or the Red Army Faction as they called themselves), a German extreme left terror group which killed dozens of people in the 1970s, basically, policemen and businessmen. The RAF was a small group of young people who have cut their teeth in the student protests of the late 1960s and who become radicalized a few years later. Though it had few members (at its heyday, it has less than a hundred members) it commanded some moral support from intellectuals and students. It remains something of a mystery what turned some of the young people of Germany in the 1970s (then, like now, among the wealthiest nations in Earth) into the path of political violence (just like we still wonder what turn the Germans to the Nazis in the 1930s). In part, as the movie shows, it was a reaction to the violence unleashed by the US towards the Vietnamese people in the Vietnam war. But the film also suggests that some of them were also spoiled and politically very naive. It is striking that in few others Western countries we saw the rise of such violent groups in that era. In a review, Christopher Hitchens thoughtfully noted that the three western countries where there were violent terror groups in the 1970s were Germany, Italy and Japan - perhaps not by chance, the three members of the Axis. Maybe, he hipothesizes, these militants were trying to show that they could react against authority in a way that their parents didn't a generation back.
Starting with an amusing and somewhat shocking intro in a nudist beach (which in many countries it could not have been filmed for legal reasons), this film was made by writer-producer team that made Downfall. Perhaps not by chance Bruno Ganz appears here as a security chief whose role is to combat from the shadows the Red Army Faction. When Ganz appears, I couldn't help but remember his brilliant performance of the Fuhrer in that great film (other actors of that movie also appear in bits; Ganz top aide, for example, is played by Heino Ferch, who was Albert Speer in Downfall). There are fine performances all around. One of the terrorist leaders (a former journalist and the less fanatic of the leadership trio) is played by the actress who played the troubled wife of the playwright in the Lives of Others. Long but rewarding, the filmmakers, as they shown in Downfall, clearly know how to make an interesting, intelligent and entertaining film out of the controversial past.
I read that some relatives of the victims of RAF's violence complained that the movie was biased towards the terrorists, but I found that it was in fact quite critical towards them. I would probably have changed the finale, though (and why not show, like in Downfall, what happened to the different characters in real life after the events depicted here).
on 12 November 2010
On one level the only wonder is that it's taken so long for somebody to bring this fascinating slice of 20th Century history to the screen, on closer inspection however the sprawling nature of the material (real history has a nasty habit of not fitting into linear movie plots conveniently)has obviously proved a barrier for a movie version of this gobsmaking story- so Kudos for all involved for attempting this very straight ahead 'just the facts mam' version of the eevnts surrounding the radical left wing German terrorist group of the films title.
If this had been adapted to fit into a movie narrative as a lot of historical films tend to do so- there would be about half as many characters and the story would have ended with the trial of the main players- and this is a strength and a weakness of the film- it is simply impossible to keep up with which group member is which and characters appear and then vanish at head scratching frequency.
Having said that for the most part this is rivetting stuff, superbly performed by the cream of German acting talent. It is also a handy reminder in these times of Terrorist paranoia, that across much of Europe with Badder Meinhoff, ETA, The IRA and numerous Italian right and left wing groups- bombs and hijackings were happening every week in the 70s and 80s without Governments feeling the need to install quite the sense of fear and curtailing in civil liberties in the public that is the case these days! Anyway mini rant over.
Although I appreciate the dry- facts only telling of the tale, it's very interesting that the real Baader Meinhoff group were always banging on about how the establishment they were fighting were 'the Auschwitz Generation'- in other words more or less the same people who were in charge of the institutions in Germany during the war were still running the country in the 70s and that was their motivation for their terror campaign- while I understand that the filmmakers didn't want to glamorise the groups violence too much (and they were glamorous- young good looking Germans who dressed like members of The Velvet Underground and carried Kalishnikovs- that is radical chic!)it would have added some nice context.
Still this a top notch thriller and that rare beast a historical movie that doesn't play fast and loose with the facts- which is both a strength and weakness.
on 28 March 2010
If you were around in the UK in the 70s you'll have heard of the Red Army Faction/Baader Meinhof Group from regular news bulletins on the BBC. But the effect on German life was never apparent from these snippets on UK news programmes that had their hands full with domestic terrorism in Northern Ireland.
While I heartily recommend you read Stephan Aust's book of the same name and upon which the film is based, it's not at all necessary (although I feel sure that once you see the film you'll want to know more anyway).
Buy this movie because it's a really well made film. The action cracks along and it never tries to moralise and the characters are played with sympathy and understanding. It in no way glorifies the terrorists' actions, although it does try to explain the positions of the various characters and organisations and what drove them to act as they did.
But perhaps the most arresting thing that comes from the movie is the fact that during a long period of their reign of terror, throughout the Federal Republic of Germany, the Badder Meinhof Group enjoyed significant popular support. There are many of reasons for this that I wouldn't try to explain here but watch the movie and see what you think.
Great film with a couple of excellent extras (especially the one on the making of the movie and the film-makers efforts to reproduce historically accurate scenes). It's the most interesting film I've seen in years.