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The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008)

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (original title)
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A look at Germany's terrorist group, The Red Army Faction (RAF), which organized bombings, robberies, kidnappings and assassinations in the late 1960s and '70s.

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(screenplay), (screenplay collaborator) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Ulrike Meinhof
... Andreas Baader
... Gudrun Ensslin
... Brigitte Mohnhaupt
... Holger Meins
... Jan Carl Raspe (as Niels Bruno Schmidt)
... Peter-Jürgen Boock
Simon Licht ... Horst Mahler
... Petra Schelm
Daniel Lommatzsch ... Christian Klar
... Rudi Dutschke
... Horst Herold Assistant
... Peter Homann
... Susanne Albrecht
... Josef Bachmann
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Storyline

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 yet fragile German democracy. The radicalised children of the Nazi generation lead by Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin 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. And while he succeeds in his relentless pursuit of the young terrorists, he knows he's only dealing with the tip of the iceberg. Written by Constantin Film

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The children of the Nazi generation vowed fascism would never rule their world again.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing images, sexual content, graphic nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Language:

| | | |

Release Date:

25 September 2008 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Baader Meinhof Complex  »

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Box Office

Budget:

€20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$4,687,119 (Germany), 28 September 2008, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,348, 21 August 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$476,270, 6 December 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended cut)

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hannah Herzsprung's mother Barbara Herzsprung was roommates with the real Susanne Albrecht at a boarding school when they were teens. Albrecht is portrayed by Hannah in this movie. See more »

Goofs

The Croatian Mini Ero used in the ambush/kidnapping of Hanns-Martin Schleyer did not exist at the time the incident took place. See more »

Quotes

Ulrike Meinhof: If you throw a stone, it's a crime. If a thousand stones are thrown, that's political. If you set fire to a car it's a crime; if a hundred cars are set on fire that's political.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Brainstorming (2010) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A cautionary tale
5 September 2009 | by See all my reviews

It's not insignificant that this story reaches us at this time. Reactionary movements are all around us, some linked to the events (and there are many events depicted here) in the film.

This is the opposite of Oliver Hirschbiegel's static, embalmed "Downfall," the recreation of Hitler's last days. Uli Edel takes Stefan Aust's book and infuses it with kinetic energy. It's one of the best uses of montage in recent cinema and the sound design fits in squarely with the sophisticated visuals and elaborate re-staging of the crimes of the Baader-Meinhoff gang, aka, The Red Army Faction.

I saw this film just after watching Ang Lee's "Taking Woodstock," a very different evocation of a turbulent era. Equally successful here is the recreation of a revolutionary time where everyone seemed to be fighting against something and to be fair, there was a lot to argue rightly about changing. It all came down to the methods one used, and using the guilt of post Nazi Germany, the Baader-Meinhoff gang became delusional and grandiose in their "methods" of social change. "Urban guerrilla" was the fashionable name at the time, today we call it terrorism.

The film doesn't bother to weigh whether anything legitimate was anyone's goal. It opens with a stunning set piece at a demonstration against the Shah of Iran and a riot that pits Right Wing elements against Leftists. As the violence escalates, there are several tracking shots ahead of charging mounted police on horseback that is so electrifying, I sat there wondering, "Can this film top that opening?" Well, it does.

It holds the interest of the audience through a very complex series of robberies, bombings and kidnappings. I was reminded of "The French Connection" in the use of sheer excitement to keep an audience engaged in a very elaborate political movement that terrorized Europe for nearly a decade (at least the cast of characters depicted in this film; activities of the group are still—arguably—alive).

Some have argued that the focus of the film on the crimes of the group glorify them, but no more than, say, the Barrow gang was elevated in Arthur Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde." We're given Baader and Meinhof's dialectic, but we're clearly watching psychotic/psychopathic people; and no one can deny they had a following.

It's a long film, but I think it's very efficient in the story it tells. Over two and a half hours, I can't think of any scene or crime that should have been cut. As well, the film is full of dialog and the English titles require you to miss a great deal of what's visually on the screen. I plan to see it twice as a result.

Huge rallies and set pieces are recreated. The only documentary footage that I recognized was from the Munich Olympics. Sobering in its account, there are many lessons we still need to learn from these events. I was reminded of one of Leonard Cohen's lyrics: "I've seen the future and, brother, it is murder." Let's hope these methods are in the past and not our future. We need to ensure that.


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