For two weeks, 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards in a prison. The "prisoners" have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the "guards" are told to retain order without using physical violence.
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
As an immediate reaction to the movie, Ignes Ponto, widow of Jürgen Ponto, whose assassination is portrayed in the movie, returned her Federal Cross of Merit. She was angry that the Federal Republic of Germany has never even created a memorial for victims of the RAF, but instead helped to finance films like this one about the members of the RAF. Also, she said, she had not been warned about the graphic portrayal of Ponto's assassination when she was invited to the movie premiere and felt humiliated by the producers for making her sit through this without a warning. About a month later, she filed a lawsuit against the producers, who claimed that every scene is historically accurate, because the assassination of her husband, which she had to witness from the next room, was not portrayed as it happened. She demands the scene of the murder of her husband be cut from the movie. The filmmakers claim that they had tried to contact her during production to get the scene right but she had no desire to cooperate. Before this movie, there had been no portrayal of Ponto's assassination on film and she felt the staging of the movie was lurid and dishonoring to her husband. As of this writing, no decision has been reached about the lawsuit. See more »
After Buback's assassination, his car comes to a stop facing a pole which is inconsistent with a historical photograph shown in a subsequent shot. See more »
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.
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First of all this is a very important film. Just like the other "Big" film by Eichinger "Der Untergang" it confronts the German audience (and the world should it care) with some aspect of German history that people should know about. In this case the "myth" of the RAF. To everyone who lived through the seventies in Germany it is clear that the influence of the RAF on Germany can hardly be exaggerated. I was a kid but my impression at the time was that both sides were wrong. There was a constant fear of terror coming from the terrorists but also from the state. (People did not get jobs if it was suspected they were "left".) So to make a blockbuster film, even if it does not really explain the motives of the main characters involved, at least gives us some facts. Not everyone is prepared to watch documentaries or read the book by Aust, but everyone should have some thoughts or maybe discussions on the subject.
Okay, but does it succeed as a film? Not entirely. The actors as everyone agrees were excellent, the cinematography as well. You do think you are in the seventies. That in itself is amazing. The action scenes are done splendidly, especially at the beginning the riots during the visit of the Persian Shah which culminated in the shooting of a student which in turn was, at least to some extent, the origin of the rise of terror. Of course the film is episodic and there are too many characters in it, most of them are not introduced in any way and ten years of complex history cannot be told in an altogether satisfying way. But the film succeeds in giving us a sense of what was going on. The producer, Bernd Eichinger has been accused of vanity. Which is a funny thing. Of course, he is vain. He has the duty to be vain as long as he also feels a responsibility to make movies that try to tell something. And the challenge, he feels, is to say it to as many people as possible.
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