Friday, September 4, 2009


The Baader Meinhof Complex (Der Baader Meinhof Komplex)

"If one person throw a stone, it's an offense. If hundreds and thousands throw stones, it's a protest."

This statement remains to be true and relevant in today's world, decades later after it's written by Ulrike Meinhof, one of co-founders of Germany's terrorist group Red Army Faction (RAF).

Based on a book by Stefan Aust and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, "The Baader Meinhof Complex" (Der Baader Meinhof Komplex | Germany 2008 | in German | 150 min.) is an epic recount of RAF's activities in the '70s. Through a grand production (123 speaking parts, 52 minor parts, 6300 extras, 140 filming locations) and without imposing judgment, director Uli Edel remarkably tells a compelling story about a group of fascinating historical figures and their radical actions

In the late '60s, many young people in Germany and throughout the Europe are actively involved in anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, and anti-war (Vietnam) movements. A group of activists founds an organization called RAF to carry out serious of violence acts including bombing and assassinations. The brain of the group is a left-wing journalist Ulrike Meinhof who gives up prominent career and her children and fights for her ideology.

Almost like a documentary, the film chronicles the major events through RAF's history in the '70s. It focuses on a few leaders of the RAF, including the title characters: Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu, "Run Lola Run") and Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck, "The Lives of Others"). It describes their resistance struggle to their imprisonment and trial. It is brutally violent, realistic, and thought provoking.

RAF is recognized as a terrorist organization, but the RAF members think themselves as revolutionists for a greater cause. Isn't it true that every political act has completely opposite views depending on which side it's looked at? RAF's history is not an isolate occurrence, and it's one tragic episode that has been repeated many times in human history.

This film is particularly interesting not only for its honest look at this important period of history, but also for its relevance to today's war on terrorism. It is an extraordinary history lesson, on the big screen.

"The Baader Meinhof Complex" opens on Friday, September 4, 2009 at Bay Area theaters.

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