The Baadar Meinhof Complex

The RAF was a radical group that emerged in Germany in the late sixties around the same time the many other radical groups emerged around the world. In reaction against the Vietnam War and seeing the tightening of German government into a fascist like state, these young women and men decided to tell their government they were not going to take it anymore. They robbed banks, bombed stores, staged sit ins, and spoke to a rapt youth audience. Every action threatened the precarious peace that Germany tried so desperately to hold onto. The Baadar Meinhof Complex is the story of the three main members of the RAF.

This film is definitely a journey. Around two and half hours long, this film is jammed with information that is needed in order for the ending to make sense. Filled to the brim with people who drift in and out, actions that have no context for someone who did not live in the seventies and just general chaos, the film takes a while to completely unwrap. However confusing the events, the people and the chaos is, at the center of the film is one idea: the killing of fascism. This is again something that I could never completely wrap my head around because I have never lived in a time where complete take over of every aspect of life was inevitable. Although many people would argue that America is on its way to becoming a fascist state, I would have to disagree with that argument. But that threat was more than just a threat when these radicals were just kids, it was a reality. Their parents fought against Hitler and his horrible regime and the second generation swore that it would never happen again. The late sixties in Germany threatened a return to the fascist regime. The government let Iran sympathisers attack protesters, they sympathized with the American side of the Vietnam War and were pro-Americanization of every facet of life. (I guess I should say West Germany since it was still a divided state) This did not sit well with the young radicals.

The character I sympathized most with was Ulrike Meinhof. She was a radical journalist that decided to stop just observing and writing her political theories, and live them. She was scared but also understood the point of the actions so thoroughly that she felt she needed to help out. She wrote most of the propaganda that was disseminated within the RAF and became the most famous member of the group. Her story was touching and the most human of the three stories. The other two main characters were pure radicals. They thought only of their ideals and would stop at nothing to execute them in the right manner. Ms. Meinhof would argue with them and try to get them to think rationally, but it was no use. Ms. Meinhof was the most tragic figure in this story, but even her death was twisted into propaganda for the radical movement.

I have seen many films like this before and I would not say that this is the best one I have ever seen. There is just too much information, too much scope covered for it to be a completely even film. I would have suggested on maybe focusing more on the trial at the end then having them jam pack three origin stories into the film. But I still feel like if you are interested in how someone becomes a radical person, how violent actions can seem like a good idea at the beginning, then you will find plenty of that explanation in this film.


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