The Baader Meinhof Complex

DRAMA; 2hr 30min (German with subtitles)

STARRING: Martina Gedeck, Moritz Bleibtreu, Johanna Wokalek

Fatal attraction: Bleibtreu and Wokalek

To contain the sprawl of conviction run riot that characterised German politics in the 1970s, screenwriter Bernd Eichinger (Downfall ) deconstructs the narrative in a logistical humdinger. The Baader Meinhoff Complex is a turbocharged juggernaut from director Uli Edel, who collaborated with Eichinger on 1981’s Christiane F. and 1989’s Last Exit to Brooklyn.

Edel zigzags boldly through a powder keg of rebellion that sees middle-class journalist and mother of two Ulrike Meinhof (Gedeck) join forces with bad-boy anarchist Andreas Baader (Bleibtreu) and his hard-line girlfriend, Gudrun Ensslin (Wokalek), in a guerrilla war against imperialist oppression. Using guns and explosives, their Red Army Faction targets the German political system with the righteous fanaticism that is the cornerstone of terrorism.


The performances are fiercely felt but there are no poster boys in this charged and pitiless spiral: in its final, desolate analysis, Baader, Meinhof and their devotees are irrelevant as individuals. The trio’s imprisonment — and eventual suicides — only confirm that what fuels a terrorist movement is a crazed energy that devours everyone in its orbit.