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The Baader Meinhof Complex (Widescreen Edition)

4.2 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Germany in the 1970s: Murderous bomb attacks, the threat of terrorism and the fear of the enemy inside are rocking the very foundations of the still fragile German democracy. The radicalised children of the Nazi generation led by Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu), Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck) and Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek) are fighting a violent war against what they perceive as the new face of fascism: American imperialism supported by the German establishment, many of whom have a Nazi past. Their aim is to create a more human society but by employing inhuman means they not only spread terror and bloodshed, they also lose their own humanity. The man who understands them is also their hunter: the head of the German police force Horst Herold (Bruno Ganz). And while he succeeds in his relentless pursuit of the young terrorists, he knows he s only dealing with the tip of the iceberg.


A subject of enduring fascination for Germans (and anybody interested in the more vivid manifestations of the '60s counterculture), the Baader Meinhof gang roared through Europe for years, dividing a population that either demonized or romanticized their exploits. In The Baader Meinhof Complex the goal for director Uli Medel (Last Exit to Brooklyn) and screenwriter Bernd Eichinger is to play the material down the middle: to portray the events of the outlaw group without deciding they are either heroes or terrorists. Some of the motives for the Baader Meinhof gang are laid out early on; for instance, that for the generation born in Germany after Hitler's nightmare had ended, a return to fascism was unacceptable--even to the point of guerrilla activities against the state. Some of Germany's biggest stars are involved in bringing the principals to life, including Moritz Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run) as the self-important ringleader Andreas Baader and Johanna Wokalek (North Face) as Gudrun Ensslin, his coconspirator and lover. The most intriguing narrative thread of the story comes from the decision by journalist Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck, from The Lives of Others) to leap from her stable life and abruptly join Baader and Ensslin on the run. The subversive activities of the Red Army Faction (as the group dubbed itself), including bombings and arson attacks, are chronicled in rapid, blunt fashion by the movie, which seems less interested in a thoughtful reflection on these incidents than in shoving them in your face. In that sense, you might begin to wish the movie had taken a side, just to provide some coherent perspective. As a rush of sensations, the film's appeal can't be denied, and it scored an Oscar nomination in the 2008 Best Foreign Language Film category. Although it runs two and a half hours, you might find yourself wishing for more screen time for the investigator (the great Bruno Ganz) tracking down the gang. His character has the gall to suggest that in trying to understand a terrorist group, it is advisable to trace back the roots of their motivations and attempt to grapple with those causes--an idea as unpopular in the 1970s as it always is. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Martina Gedeck, Moritz Bleibtreu, Johanna Wokalek
  • Directors: Uli Edel
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: March 30, 2010
  • Run Time: 144 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0030Y1282
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,832 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Baader Meinhof Complex (Widescreen Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
West Germany, 1967: After a disastrous engagement between the federal republic of Germany's left wing student population and parties sympathetic to the visiting Shah of Iran degenerates into street violence and results in the firebombing of a department store and an assassination attempt on the life of socialist firebrand, Rudi Dutschke, a group of increasingly disaffected German students and petty criminals begin to coalesce around the magnetic personalities of malcontent street punk, Andreas Baader, and his girlfriend, Gudrun Ensslin. Amongst those caught in their gravity is middle-class, left-wing journalist and media personality, Ulrike Meinhof. Baader and Ensslin have decided that politely protesting the policies of American and Israeli "Imperialism" with acts of civil disobedience is no longer enough and decide to engage in armed struggle against the constitutional powers of West Germany. Over the next ten years, the result of the alliance between Baader, Esselin and Meinhof, The `Red Army Faction' (aka the Baader-Meinhof Group), was to terrorise not only the FDR, but the governments and populations of countries far beyond it's borders.

Attempting to relate the tale of the rise to prominence of the RAF, much less adapt Stefan Aust's incredibly convoluted door-stopper of a book, was, I suspected, going to be nigh-on impossible - but Uli Edel's film achieves this virtually impossible task with aplomb. As well as being one of the most impressive thrillers that I've seen in years, its also one of the most fascinating portraits of the corruption and degeneration of political idealism ever to make its way to screen.
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The Baader Meinhof Complex is an at once exhilarating and horrific depiction of the rise and fall of a very prominent left-wing extremist group in '70s Germany, formed from an uneasy alliance between journalist Ulrike Meinhof and the incendiary couple Andreas Baader and his girlfriend Gudrun Ensslin. The film explores the initial motivations for their radicalization, the shift from anger and rebellion to increasingly violent acts of terror, and the dissolution of the group's ideology into seeming incoherence as the personal began to overwhelm the political. While watching I wondered if the casting choices had made the characters more appealing than in real life - they were all very striking young men and women - but a bit of research shows it to be quite accurate. They did a remarkable job in capturing the likeness of the actual individuals depicted.

It is a complex film, that highlights the allure of the struggle, at the same time as it reveals the individuals behind it to be deeply human and imperfect, at times conflicted and at others resolute, even dogmatic, to the point of becoming what they had initially struggled against - these are not the mythological figures that came to be idolized by some and hated by others. A fascinating paradox explored by the film is that in war one side inevitably takes on qualities of its enemy: to fight an underground extremist group, the state must employ its tactics, must become flexible and bend the rule of law and its protection of individual rights such as privacy; to stand up against the force of a powerful regime, the anarchic underground must increasingly become autocratic, must not tolerate dissent.

The film is beautifully shot, and edited for an ideal balance of intensity and clarity.
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I lived in Germany during the RAF era. As a military brat we were in fear of this group, as both Frankfurt and Ramstein experienced terrorist attacks by this group.

The news clips that were used in this movie are genuine. I remember that old man on the German news. The terror lasted all through the 1970s.

It was therefore haunting to see this movie again. All the actors were so believable as their actual characters they were playing. Watch the 30-minute "Making of the B-M Complex" and you will learn that the director, Uli Edel, used all genuine parts, even using the actual court hall of the prison in which the real terrorists were interviewed (and denied) parole. The prison cells were designed according to old photographs of the real prison cells, down to genuine sinks. The actors spent endless hours studying the mannerisms and speech patterns of their roles. Actor Martina Gedeck almost looks like the younger sister of Gudrun Ensslin, the "brains" behind this group of misfits.

I didn't read the book; my opinions are based on memory. The scenes in this movie are non-stop action and at times overly graphic in their violence, but this is how B-M acted. Even how the group slowly fell apart due to newer generations of this group not being in sinc with the original founders, is quite obvious. The Baader-Meinhof gang was a group of highly intellectual but badly misguided and violent group of extreme-left-leaning students whose guilt of their parents perhaps got the ball rolling.

Say what you may, "This is part of our History" said Edel, and this movie shows this history well. This movie deserved the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.
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