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Der Baader Meinhof Komplex

Theatrical release poster for Der Baader Meinhof Komplex
Directed by Uli Edel
Produced by Bernd Eichinger
Written by Bernd Eichinger
Uli Edel
based on the book by Stefan Aust
Starring Moritz Bleibtreu
Martina Gedeck
Johanna Wokalek
Nadja Uhl
Simon Licht
Alexandra Maria Lara
Bruno Ganz
Distributed by Constantin Film
Release date(s) September 25, 2008 (2008-09-25)
Running time 150 minutes
Country Germany
Language German

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (English title: The Baader Meinhof Complex) is a 2008 German film by Uli Edel; written and produced by Bernd Eichinger. It stars Moritz Bleibtreu, Martina Gedeck and Johanna Wokalek. The film is based on the 1985 German best selling non-fiction book of the same name by Stefan Aust. It retells the story of the early years of the West German militant group the Rote Armee Fraktion (Red Army Faction, or RAF). The film was selected as the official German submission for the 81st Academy Awards in the category Best Foreign Language Film and made the January shortlist.[1] It was nominated on December 11, 2008, for the Golden Globe in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Contents

Plot summary

The film retells the story of the early years of the RAF, concentrating on its beginnings in 1967 (at the time of the German student movement) up to the German Autumn (Deutscher Herbst) of 1977.

Production

The film began production in August 2007 with filming at several locations including Berlin, Munich, Stammheim Prison, Rome and Morocco. The film was subsidized by several film financing boards to the sum of EUR 6.5 million.

Cast

Distribution and response

"When the film opened in Germany last year, some younger viewers came out of theaters crestfallen that the Red Army Faction members, still mythologized, were such dead-enders. Some who were older complained that the film had made the gang look too attractive. But they were dead-enders, and they were attractive. A film about them, or any other popular terrorist movement, has to account for both facts if it seeks to explain not just their crimes but also their existence."

The film premiered on September 15, 2008, in Munich and was commercially released in Germany on September 25, 2008.[3] The film was chosen as Germany's official submission to the 81st Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.[4]

Michael Buback, the son of former chief federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback who was assassinated by the RAF in 1977, expressed doubts concerning whether the film seriously attempts to present the historical truth, although he had not seen the movie when he expressed this concern.[5] He subsequently amended this statement, but pointed out that the film concentrates almost exclusively on portraying the perpetrators which carries with it the danger for the viewer of too much identification with the protagonists.[6]

Protesting against the historically "distorted" and "almost completely false" depiction of the RAF's assassination of leading German banker Jürgen Ponto, Ponto's widow and witness Ignes Ponto returned her Federal Cross of Merit, since she saw the German government, which co-produced the film through various film financing funds, as jointly responsible for the "public humiliations" suffered by her and her family. Representing the family, her daughter Corinna Ponto called the film's violation of their privacy "wrong" and "particularly perfidious".[7]

Aust’s film has been criticized in Germany and Israel for making terrorist thuggery too glamorous. But in order to capture Baader-Meinhof accurately, the film needs to convey its appeal at the time. From mental patients to left-wing ideologues, from rebellious teens to sexually frustrated professionals, the gang’s members captivated many Germans with derring-do and self-conscious theatricality.[8]

— Fred Seigel
City Journal, September 18, 2009

Jörg Schleyer, the son of the assassinated manager and then president of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations, Hanns Martin Schleyer, states, however, that the movie was a great film which finally portrayed the RAF as what it actually was, "a merciless, ruthless gang of murderers". Commenting on the blatant depiction of violence he said, "Only a movie like this can show young people how brutal and bloodthirsty the RAF's actions were at that time."[5]

The movie website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 87% of critics gave the film positive write-ups based upon a sample of 83 with an average score of 7.1/10.0.[9]

Hollywood Reporter gave the film a favourable review,[10] praising the acting and storytelling, but also noting a lack of character development in certain parts. A mixed review with similar criticism was published in Variety.[11] Fionnuala Halligan of Screen International praised the film's excellent production values as well as the efficient and crisp translation of a fascinating topic to film, but felt that the plot flatlines emotionally and doesn't hold much dramatic suspense for younger and non-European audiences unfamiliar with the film's historical events.[12]

Christopher Hitchens wrote a very favorable review for Vanity Fair. He appreciated the film's attempt to strike against conventional Hollywood stereotypes of revolutionaries by making the connection between urban warfare and criminality explicit. By slowly erasing the boundaries, the film revealed the "uneasy relationship between sexuality and cruelty, and between casual or cynical attitudes to both", as well as the tendency of the terrorists to offer their support and allegiance to only the most extreme factions of the revolutionary underground. Finally, Hitchens describes the RAF as "a form of psychosis" which swept through all of the post-axis countries following the war, all of which Hitchens' claims had similar leftist terrorist groups. "The propaganda of the terrorists" [...] showed an almost neurotic need to “resist authority” in a way that their parents’ generation had so terribly failed to do."[13]

The Filmbewertungsstelle Wiesbaden, Germany's national agency which evaluates movies on their artistic, documentary and historical significance, gave the movie the rating "especially valuable". In their explanatory statement the committee says: "the film tries to do justice to the terrorists as well as to the representatives of the German state by describing both sides with an equally objective distance." The committee asserts: "German history as a big movie production: impressive, authentic, political, tantalizing".

References

  1. ^ Giles, Jeff (January 13, 2009). "Academy Names Nine Foreign Film Finalists". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/awards_tour_2008/news/1790761/academy_names_nine_foreign_film_finalists. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  2. ^ A Match That Burned the Germans by Fred Kaplan, The New York Times, August 12, 2009
  3. ^ "Kino: Premiere für "Der Baader Meinhof Komplex"" (in German). Die Zeit. 2008-09-15. http://www.zeit.de/news/artikel/2008/09/15/2615136.xml. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  4. ^ Kaufmann, Nicole (2008-09-16). "The Baader Meinhof Complex to represent Germany in the race for the Academy Award". German Films. http://www.german-films.de/app/news/news_view.php?pressrelease_id=714. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  5. ^ a b "Schelte von Buback, Lob von Schleyer" (in German). Der Spiegel. 2008-09-17. http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/kino/0,1518,578833,00.html. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  6. ^ "Buback-Sohn sieht im RAF-Drama einen Täter-Film" (in German). Die Welt. 2008-09-20. http://www.welt.de/kultur/article2469200/Buback-Sohn-sieht-im-RAF-Drama-einen-Taeter-Film.html. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  7. ^ "In geschmacklosester Weise – Streit um "Baader-Meinhof-Komplex"". Sueddeutsche Zeitung Online. 2008-10-07. http://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/172/313080/text/. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  8. ^ The Romance of Evil by Fred Seigel, City Journal, September 18, 2009
  9. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/baader_meinhof_complex/ The Baader-Meinhof Complex at Rotten Tomatoes
  10. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/film/reviews/article_display.jsp?rid=11754
  11. ^ Boyd van Hoeij (2008-09-25). "New Int'l Release: "The Baader Meinhof Complex"". Variety (online). http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117938504.html?categoryid=31&cs=1. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  12. ^ Fionnuala Halligan (2008-09-26). "The Baader Meinhof Complex (Das (sic) Baader Meinhof Complex (sic))". Screen International. http://www.screendaily.com/ScreenDailyArticle.aspx?intStoryID=41050. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  13. ^ http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/08/hitchens-guerrillas200908?currentPage=1

Bibliography

  • Aust, Stefan (September 2008) (in German). Der Baader-Meinhof-Komplex. Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe. ISBN 3455500295.  (English translation The Baader-Meinhof Complex published by The Bodley Head, ISBN 1847920454)
  • Eichinger, Katja (September 2008) (in German). "Der Baader-Meinhof-Komplex" Das Buch zum Film. Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe. ISBN 3455500967. 

External links

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