Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex) Reviews

Page 1 of 53
Super Reviewer
November 23, 2011
The leaders of a terrorist group working within Germany in the 1970s are hunted down and imprisoned while their comrades perpetrate increasingly desperate plans for their release. The Baader Meinhof Complex is an interesting look at a period of German history I new little about, when the new generation feared the apathy that led to Hitler's rise and decided to act against what they saw as similarly imperialist actions. This gives an interesting political backdrop to some well executed action sequences during the first half of the film but unfortunately once they are captured, the film becomes quite unfocussed and slightly tiresome. It degenerates into various scenes of prison cell squabbling which is in no way aided by the fact that there is no central character the viewer can identify with (or hate for that matter) and so it all becomes a little difficult to care about any of these "idealists" who actually come across as arrogant, obnoxious and hypocritical. It does have its good points and is certainly an interesting backdrop to the political situation of the 1970s, but as a story of individuals it fails to engage on any real level.
Super Reviewer
½ October 11, 2008
The true story of terror attacks in Germany of the 1960s and 70s, performed by left extremists of the Red Army Fraction. While the movie is already two and a half hours long, it would have needed even another hour to deliver the background for people not familiar with this part of Germany's history. Especially the end comes rather suddenly and should have some explanations added for foreign audiences. That being said, the film does a great job in bringing this time back to life by rushing through the most important events in a really exciting and interesting way, following the most important characters on both sides of the law. The cast reads like a who is who of current German cinema, the performances are all around great, especially by Moritz Bleibtreu as terrorist leader Andreas Baader. By using montages with original news footage and music, delivering some of the strongest scenes, the film manages to sum up the mood, thread, ideas and emotions involved at that time really well. It just shows what happened, without judging or taking either the terrorists' or the law's side. A great history lesson, but probably hard to consume without some more background information.
Super Reviewer
November 7, 2010
WOW!!! A very powerful, intense, eerie, shocking film. There is no positive outcome with terrorism. Idealism, objectives, and goals are muddled by the means. Yet, there is no doubt that there are societal wrongs that require correction and reigning powers are sometimes part of or benefit from the problem. I know nothing about this era of German history or the veracity of this presentation, but seeing this film triggers the desire to learn more about the context.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
½ September 27, 2010
Meticulous German film that chronicles the rise and early years of the German militant group the Red Army Faction. "The Baader Meinhof Complex" is a well documented, nicely crafted film with passionate performances, superb editing of existing footage with filmed scenes giving it a realistic feel.

What "Baader Meinhof" does well is bring you into the moment. Ulrike Meinhof is at first an opinionated columnist who denounces Government practices and shows support for some of the rising anti-Government movements happening in her country. She moves from being observer and chronicler to active participant after meeting Andreas Baader and his partner Gudrun Ensslin after they bomb a department store.

"Baader Meinhof" is an incredibly well-researched film and that academic excellence mars its ability to become an encompassing film. While the performances are great, the film goes into so much exhaustive detail that it keeps you at arm's length disallowing you to fully understand Meinhof, Baader and Ensslin and invest in their fate. By the time they begin to in fight and crumble emotionally and the RAF movement begins to take on a life beyond their control, "Baader Meinhof" becomes a History lesson that you've dozed off on leaving you informed but emotionally uninvested.
Super Reviewer
½ November 25, 2009
Electrifying! One of the best films of 2009 (I know it was nominated for awards in 2008, but the film was properly released in NA in 2009... thus, it's on my best of 2009 list).
Super Reviewer
½ September 17, 2009
Interesting true story of this 2009 Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Language Film of German production is based on the exploits of Berlin's Red Army Faction, a terrorist group active during the 1970s who fought against American imperialism. That was almost even to 1988 American production's Patty Hearst. Great politician cinema I've ever seen; the direction, the acting, the script and the editing.
The quality of the acting ranges from good to fantastic (with very few exceptions like Alexandra Maria Lara, who is nothing more than wide-eyed again and who thankfully doesn't even have dialogue). Especially Martina Gedeck and Johanna Wokalek are sensational. It is THEIR film and the conflicts in Stammheim which led to Meinhof's suicide are acted Oscar-worthy. But Michael Gwisdek (Ensslin's father), Jan Josef Liefers (Peter Homann), Sebastian Blomberg (Rudi Dutschke), Nadja Uhl (Brigitte Mohnhaupt) and Hannah Herzsprung (Susanne Albrecht) arey good.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
August 21, 2009
"The Baader-Meinhof Complex" is a superficial, television-style movie about the Red Army Faction, the West German revolutionary group that led a wave of assassinations and bombings in the 1970s. I don't really understand why films about revolutionaries are always so shallow. I know of course that the vast majority of people, including filmmakers, don't understand revolutionaries. But why would someone who doesn't understand revolutionaries want to do a film about them?

It is a similar case with films about painters and writers. The most intense artists always have the most shallow filmmakers interested in making films about them. I'd like to make a film about a superficial filmmaker making a movie about extremely intense subject matter. That would be intriguing.

"Baader-Meinhof Complex" isn't terrible. It is dramatically taut and keeps one's interest. It chronicles the founding of the RAF by Andreas Baader and his girlfriend Gudrun Ensslin and the recruitment of the well-known journalist Ulrike Meinhof to their cause. The scenes where Meinhof joins the group are a perfect example of the film's superficiality. The audience learns almost nothing about why this middle-class mother of two abandons her children and joins a fiercely violent revolutionary group. The most basic motivations of the characters are incomprehensible. Only the most formulaic and glib explanations are offered, such as that Meinhof was tired of just talking and wanted to act.

The poster art is indicative of the film's uncomprehending stance vis-a-vis its subjects. On the poster, Baader and Ensslin are depicted as cartoon characters. The film does indeed present its protagonists as cartoons, and that's why it is a mediocre work of art.

Historical note: I don't know why the group became known as the Baader-Meinhof gang. Based at least on the film's depiction, the group really should have been known by the moniker Baader-Ensslin. Gudrun Ensslin co-led the group with Baader from day one and never strayed from Baader's side. It also is reasonable to speculate that without her there would never have been an RAF. Her revolutionary commitment was ferocious and undying.

Meinhof published many writings about the group, but it doesn't appear she was much of a leader. She also appears not to have been very close personally to either Baader or Ensslin. At the time of her death, furthermore, Meinhof seems to have been reconsidering the wisdom of her life's path in a way that was quite different from Baader and Ensslin, who remained committed to the end.
Super Reviewer
½ September 23, 2008
"Stop seeing them the way they weren't."

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. Based on Stefan Aust's best-selling nonfiction book.

Although being somewhat more than moderately interested in politics, I knew very little about the original activities on which this film is based. Having seen the film, I now feel vastly more knowledgeable on how world events in the late sixties and early seventies led from the emergence to the demise of this particular left wing faction. My attention was fully engaged throughout the film. I thought the screenplay brilliantly portrayed the way the mindset of the RAF developed as they became more and more convinced they were living in a police state. Acting and direction were superb throughout. In spite of the violence and repression being depicted, I was reassured by the fact that such thought provoking films can and are being made for today's cinema audiences.

After seeing Die Welle (I think it was three times) earlier this year I am now very enthusiastic about German cinema and shall certainly be hoping to see Der Baader Meinhof Komplex at least once more this year. A masterpiece of political film making. Highly recommended.
Super Reviewer
½ April 26, 2009
Interesting and complex labour of love from Edel which demands a lot from the viewer with its historical sweep. It is long and the pace varies dramatically but you will learn a lot about the subject.
Super Reviewer
November 17, 2008
A fascinating docu-drama about the rise and fall of a German left-wing terrorist group in the 1970s. The film's aim is to neutrally portray all the facts, which is also its weakness, and as such it doesn't come to any particular conclusion after two and a half hours. Although it could have been made shorter and punchier, I was totally engrossed throughout and enjoyed this examination of the creation of the 'age of terror'.
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2010
The not entirely unsympathetic "The Baader Meinhof Complex" is a mostly superficial film about the infamous terrorist cell that wrecked havoc in West Germany in the early seventies.(It also contradicts "One Day in September" that West Germany did not have any anti-terrorism forces at the time.) What the movie does best is establish the setting through copious use of archival footage(so much so, that maybe a documentary might have been a better route) that shows the rise of political violence with West Germany being on the front lines of the Cold War. The left of the time is depicted as having no choice but to resort to violence after an anti-Shah protest is brutally suppressed and anarchist leader Rudi Dutschke(Sebastian Blomberg) is shot and critically wounded. Journalist Ulrike Meinhof(Martina Gedeck), mother of two, cheers on from the sidelines until she assists the escape of Andreas Baader(Moritz Bleibtreu) from police custody.

Surprisingly the Baader Meinhof gang is portrayed as rather egalitarian, as a lot of revolutionaries could be macho chauvinists. On an unrelated note, most of the gang are runaways, both adult and teenagers. Baader, Meinhof and Gudrun Esselin(Johanna Wokalek) are all parents who are on the run from their collective responsibilities. It takes a charismatic leader to change the course of people's lives like this and Moritz Bleibtreu displays little of that, simply exuding his normal slovenly charm. Actually, the terrorists are playing a game of dare which leads to a deadlier game of unintended consequences, as they lose control and become servants of other causes. Events soon spiral out of control as the government takes on fascist characteristics that they initially banded together to fight. Part of that comes from the group having an id(Baader), and an ego(Meinhof) but no superego to rein them in. While there was no failure of nerve, there was no clear idea when to stop, either.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
August 16, 2013
That's a decent, if, for us ignorant Americans, somewhat difficult to remember title and all, but, you know what, when I hear it, I'm not so much thinking of a foundation that Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof put down, as much as I'm thinking of some kind of a mental state. If you think highly of yourself, like a superiority complex, except with the goal to commit violent acts of left-wing terrorism against fascists in the name of communism, you might be a Red Army Faction member. That's right, I took this film's premise and figured out how to turn it into a Jeff Foxworthy reference, and if you don't find that impressive, then, well, you're probably not here in the South with me. Like I said, we Americans can get kind of ignorant, but hey, I don't reckon the Germans care all that much, because this film has to have its share of obligatory English-language spots, a couple of which are sequences in which the Germans practically shamelessly celebrate American music (Oh yeah, the Who is really 'Merican, I tell you what). Hey, I've heard some '80s German pop songs, and when they're not putting together classical masterpieces, the Germans don't really know what to do, but then again, this is the '60s, so I'd imagine the Germans were putting together plenty of good music, you know, when they weren't having to deal with violently oppressive political and social struggles, or allowing Can to come up with something like "Yoo Doo Right". Man, twenty-and-a-half avant-garde minutes of more-or-less the same monotonous drumbeat and minimalist lyrics is not krautrockin', but this two-and-a-half-hour-long German flick is a bit more krautrock n' roll, if you know what I mean, people who I presume are just back from researching what in the world krautrock, the band Can, and the "song" "Yoo Doo Right" are. Still, this film isn't really all that awesome, being good and all, but not without problems, kind of like someone suffering from a Badder-Meinhof complex.

While some thrills were certainly expected out of this film, I was also fearing some dry spells, of which there are luckily hardly any in this effort, which still has moments in which its pacing gets to be too steady for its own good, giving you the opportunity to see just how bloated this film is at two-and-a-half hours, taking on one too many story layers, and packing on too much excess material, to be all that smooth of a ride. I don't know if the film necessarily gets to be convoluted after a while, but all of this bloating overcomplicates certain areas of this film, while dragging the final product out to a repetitious point that challenges your patience, as well as your investment, though not quite like the conventionalism. Stories of this type have been interpreted time and again, and I wish I could say that this film puts in all that effort to crafting a unique interpretation, but alas, if there is a major trope in films of this type, then this film taps it, if not hits it hard, running more than I expected on a familiar formula, and one that was never to get all that juicy. Don't get me wrong, this film's story is pretty strong, at least enough for you to get the rewarding thriller than this effort ultimately is, but as intriguing as this film is, there are minimalist areas in dramatic weight, and they go more emphasized than they should be by ambition. A lot of heart goes into this project, and on the whole, such inspiration works, but this is a film whose story focus leans a bit more towards the thrills than the dramatic weight, and director Uli Edel just keeps milking all of the intensity over the substance, giving the film something of a distancing cold feel that is certainly not all that severe, but limits momentum and emphasizes other shortcomings. The film's flaws are limited, but those subtle complaints end up going quite the distance in retarding momentum to a degree that holds this pretty promising project back as overlong, formulaic and even a touch distant. Still, while the film isn't as gripping as it perhaps could have been, well, it's still pretty gripping, having moments of looseness to its grasp, but enough potency to catch your investment, as well as your eyes.

A pretty gritty thriller with intense subject matter, this film is hardly a stunner, but cinematographer Rainer Klausmann still really impresses with a taste in heavy coloring and lighting that is distinct and attractive, with a certain harsh handsomeness that is consistently striking, and often does a fine job of capturing the gritty tone of this thriller, much like the action sequences. This type of action thriller is certainly more concerned about what is being conveyed through explosions and gunplay rather than the explosions and gunplay themselves, so, of course, many action set pieces run together, but still keep you glued to the edge of your seat with airtight structuring and an intensely unapologetic portrayal of violence that sometimes gets to be a bit too disturbing to be all that necessary, but is generally brutally effective. This is a harsh film, but there's a certain beauty to this intensity, and whether it's being expressed through a rugged visual style or being expressed through effective action set pieces, the artistic value of this film proves to be complimentary to this subject matter's weight, which is considerable. Like I said, this story is more focused on the intensity of its subject matter, rather then the dramatic weight that was always to be limited yet could really compel if it was celebrated more thoroughly, but, as you can imagine, the origin of the Red Army Faction is a thoroughly intriguing one, with heavy themes - dealing with human, social and political flaws that drove visionaries to defend their questionable beliefs from questionable beliefs through terrorism that really affected social views - that may not be so weighty that the film can fully justify its hefty length and cold overemphasis on events, rather processes, in plotting, but carries potential that is indeed done justice, even on paper. Bernd Eichinger's and Uli Edel's script is a bit bloated, sure, but on the whole, it does a fine job of milking this story's weight for most all its worth, delivering on sharp dialogue to keep slow spells from creeping too far in, as well as on clever characterization that battles through the potentially undercooked areas in exposition to give you a pretty well-rounded feel for the character, further sold by a strong cast of talents, most all of whom deliver on distinguished and compelling performances. This film is driven by problematic characters who could have fallen short as too questionable to be all that compelling, but really, while you're not exactly likely to be sold on the concept of committing acts of terrorism and whatnot, the writing and performances are strong enough for this character study to grip, which isn't to say that much credit for compellingness isn't also due to Edel, as director, because no matter how overambitious Edel may be, his potent atmosphere sustains both entertainment value and intrigue more often than not, soaking up about as much as the effectiveness within the depths of this thriller as the improvable areas. Edel stands to soak up the kick of this subject matter a bit more, but he makes sure that intrigue rarely abates, even when he's the one challenging intrigue with cold spells, and with Edel's inspiration going joined by inspiration within artistry, writing and acting, the final product is left to stand as pretty rewarding.

Overall, steady pacing gives you an opportunity to think about how bloated and somewhat overcomplicated this film is, while formulaic storytelling and a touch too much ambition stress natural shortcomings and threaten the final product, which resists its shortcomings enough through harshly attractive cinematography, thrilling action set pieces and intriguing subject matter - brought to life by inspired writing, acting and direction - for "The Baader Meinhof Complex" to stand as an improvable, but ultimately consistently compelling dramatization of the early days of the Red Army Faction.

3/5 - Good
Super Reviewer
June 10, 2013
Director Uli Edel made a movie (written and produced by Bernd Eichinger) about the not so distant historical events in West Germany, where the radical group raises against the oppression of the capitalism. Of course, everyone has their own opinion about these events, but the fact is that these people had a support of over 25% of the German youth, which is not a small number! Balanced enough, the movie presents both sides of the West Germany political coin, trying to be objective. Stars Moritz Bleibtreu, Martina Gedeck, and Johanna Wokalek showed the right amount of emotion (or lack of it) for revolutionaries ready to cleanse the German society of their enemies. I lived at the time in Europe, and as a teenager I had my thoughts influenced by the Rote Armee Fraktion and Italian Brigate Rosse... they had more sympathisers than the governments using force as a persuasive method. For me was much more than just a movie - because I could remember that original TV footage used in this movie, as a part of my early teenage years in a socialist country. I know that seems that these are the bad guys, but only side which got anything out of it was the Western German government introducing something which was quickly adopted by most of the regimes in the world who want to control the movement of their citizens and everything else... digitalised systems which allow tracking of passports, payments, habits... everything possible. Until now I had an older Australian passport without a chip in it - we used to have a choice if we want to be tracked or not: not anymore. No electronic passport with chip - no travelling! No vaccination - no school... so much about freedom... these guys felt oppressed and fought for it (right or wrong way - that is not the question to discuss when writing a review).

The film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Academy Awards and it's petty didn't win it. It was also nominated for the Golden Globe in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Acting and storytelling were superb, screenplay lacks a character development in certain parts and I already mentioned the right dose (or lack) of emotion.
Super Reviewer
½ November 4, 2008
Too busy, too long and too distant from the personalities and the significance of the events that seemed to have had a significant impact in Germany's political history. I endured it till the end as I was interested to learn from historical point of view, but the stories told did not seem to have coherence or tight connection with each other and the motives, ideals and psychosynthesis of the protagonists is never really explained. Too stylish and not gritty enough, it feels it could have been a great film in the hands of another director.
Super Reviewer
½ August 12, 2009
Very interesting, very serious, very long and very grown up film about the Baader Meinhof terrorists v's the German government during the 1970's. Shows the pitfalls of the moral highground and the risks of ends justifying means, maybe Gandhi and Martin Luther King got it right all along.
Super Reviewer
June 28, 2013
I am not trying to be biased here, but depends on how you look at this film, you can either love it or hate it. It was hard for me to personally decide whether I truly enjoyed this film or I wished it never existed. The Baader Meinhof Complex is based on the true story of a far left terrorist group operated in the seventies of West Germany. It really angered me greatly watching this film, despite the fact that I love the acting and the realistic account of the terrorist acts, I still can't help but feel scared and disgusted by what these dirty left wing liberal hippies can do. Every single one of them were hypocrites, sure there is character growth, from an average human being to useless scumbags. There is no sympathy for any of these scums and not to mention the sympathizers, it is just shocking to learn history from a different perspective. To sum it up, if you have West Germany so much, just go live in the bloody Vietnam hell hole which you loved so much. Hippies bring peace, not bloody murder and bombing. Shame on all the stupid liberals.
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2008
Understanding is not condoning. Being the sons and daughters of the Nazis, they perceived what they thought was the rise of Fascism again in their country and acted so another Hitler wouldn't rise. In the course of their battle, their intention became perverted, and they gave birth to the modern terrorist. Although this film could have delved deeper into the moral of "good intentions gone wrong", it chose instead to paint a picture of the people involved, showing both the good and the bad. A worthwhile film for all those who stand around asking "why" during a terrorist attack.
Super Reviewer
½ September 28, 2009
Super Reviewer
November 14, 2009
It?s no secret that many people view the Best Foreign Language category of the Academy Awards as a mess. Between the country by country submission process, the process of selecting a shortlist, and the process of choosing five final films, there are a ton of roadblocks in which snubs can occur. This was made particularly clear in 2007, when important films like 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days were ignored in favor of off the radar oddities like Beaufort, Katy?, and 12. Many also complained about the 2008 lineup, but if you think about it they really stepped up that year. Among the nominees were the Palm D?or winner The Class, critical favorite and future Criterion-laureate Revanche, the wildly creative animated documentary Waltz With Bashir, and Departures, a film whose victory baffled many but which got solid reviews once people finally got a chance to see it. Really, that?s what the category?s major problem is, its dealing with movies which few people have actually had a chance to see and which have had no ability to get buzz stateside. That?s probably the problem that The Baader-Meinhof Complex had when its nomination baffled many. Had it had the stateside released then which it is now finally getting it might have been less of a shock.

The film tells the true story of the RAF, that?s not the Royal Air Force, it?s the Red Army Faction; a group of disillusioned youths who turned to violence in an attempt to cause social change in late sixties Germany. The group could probably be equated to The Weathermen, except that they were more violent and more active than that American group. In short, these were left wing domestic terrorists who reaped havoc throughout Germany for about a decade, and that?s a topic that needs to be approached carefully.

The title refers to RAF members Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu) and Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck), who became the group?s most famous members. However, the movie does not necessarily focus on either of them and they do not appear to be bilateral leaders of the organization. Rather, this is an ensemble film about an organization that appears to have been somewhat loosely organized. Baader is the member who more closely lives up to what one would expect from an RAF member, he?s young, angry and political. The kind of person who?d normally just wear a Che Guevara T-Shirt but who instead ended up taking arms and emulating him. Meinhof is a bit more intriguing. She began her career as a respected left wing journalist, but finally came to sympathize and ultimately sacrifice everything in order to join the group.

These young people are raging against a lot of things around them, particularly the ongoing war in Vietnam (for which the United States has been using bases in Germany), the treatment of Palestine by Israel, and the general belief that corporations have been controlling everything. They come to the conclusion that to do nothing in the face of all this would be as much of a sin as the conformity the previous generation showed in the face of Nazism. That?s what drove them philosophically, additionally; they were living in a time of worldwide counterculture which is something the film shows very well. The film has a number of montages (perhaps too many) that really drive home the environment which bread this organization and why so many of the youth in Germany came to sympathize with them.

The group?s build is rather interesting as there is a fascinating gender equality to the Baader Meinhoff group. Three of the most important RAF members (Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek), Brigitte Mohnhaupt (Nadja Uhl), and Meinhof), are women and many of them act as aggressively as the men. Do not expect Baader and Meinhof to be some kind of Bonnie and Clyde style lovers in crime. This is the late 60s and the group practices free love, a fact that does not amuse their Palestinian colleagues as evidenced by a scene where they went to a terrorist training camp and gained the reputation of being screw-ups among their peers in the terror business.

Of course, amidst all the 60s clothing and rock music, one must face the fact that these people were killers. Perhaps they were idealistic and well intentioned killers, but killers none the less. That?s what makes this subject matter so challenging; terrorist are probably the least popular people in the world today and with good reason, how do you make these characters sympathetic enough to follow without glorifying them or whitewashing their less savory aspects. This is perhaps not unlike the challenges posed by making a serious film about gangs and organized crime, but magnified by the political elements. To deal with this Edel has chosen to make this a straightforward film about historical events told with meticulous detail and research. Stefan Aust?s book was clearly important to this production for far more than its catchy title, one feels like Edel was interested as much in making an accessible illustrated historical record as he was in telling a cinematic story.

The history here is interesting enough for such a treatment, but it?s also the movies Achilles Heel. The material is never dry, but because this is trying to be so accurate there are developments that go against the nature of film storytelling; important characters emerge in the final act and events occur that seem separate from the main narrative thrust and in general it affair seems a bit unfocused. One wonders if this would be perfected if Edel had been willing to composite a few characters and simplify elements. Quentin Tarentino lovingly asserted in the finale of Inglorious Basterds that film is a stronger force than history, and while I certainly am not recommending that The Baader Meinhof Complex needed to take any departures as radical as Tarentino did, I do think Edel probably should have taken his duties as a film maker a little more seriously than his duties as a historian. Still, the way the film steadfastly presents history in a way that is cinematically compelling if not narratively clan, does make for a very interesting film.
Page 1 of 53