Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex)

2008

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex)

Critics Consensus

Intricately researched and impressively authentic slice of modern German History, with a terrific cast, assured direction, and a cracking script.

85%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 99

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 16,118
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Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex) Photos

Movie Info

Director Uli Edel teams with screenwriter Bernd Eichinger to explore a dark period in German history with this drama detailing the rise and fall of the Red Army Faction, a left-wing terrorist organization that became increasingly active following World War II. Also known as the Baader-Meinhof Group, the Red Army Faction was formed by the radicalized children of the Nazi generation with the intended goal of battling Western imperialism and the West German establishment. Adapted from author Stefan Aust's definitive account of the group that resorted to killing innocent civilians in the name of democracy and justice, The Baader Meinhof Complex stars Moritz Bleibtreu as Andreas Baader and Martina Gedeck as Ulrike Meinhof. Bruno Ganz co-stars as Horst Herold, the head of the German police force faced with the task of bringing the Red Army Faction to justice.

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Cast

Martina Gedeck
as Ulrike Meinhof
Moritz Bleibtreu
as Andreas Baader
Johanna Wokalek
as Gudrun Ensslin
Bruno Ganz
as Horst Herold
Nadja Uhl
as Brigitte Mohnhaupt
Stipe Erceg
as Holger Meins
Niels Bruno Schmidt
as Jan Carl Raspe
Vinzenz Kiefer
as Peter-Jürgen Boock
Simon Licht
as Horst Mahler
Daniel Lommatzsch
as Christian Klar
Sebastian Blomberg
as Rudi Dutschke
Martin Glade
as Benno Ohnesorg
Hannah Herzsprung
as Susanne Albrecht
Heino Ferch
as Dietrich Koch, Horst Herold's assistant
Tom Schilling
as Josef Bachmann
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Critic Reviews for Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex)

All Critics (99) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (84) | Rotten (15)

  • Two problems I had with the film were that the subtitles were too small making them difficult to read and that they did not remain on the screen long enough to adequately read. Nevertheless, it is an amazing movie and well worth your time.

    Jan 16, 2018 | Full Review…

    Ed Koch

    The Atlantic
    Top Critic
  • It doggedly refuses easy ways out, and it has the guts, brains and critical eye to plumb the roots of terror and its bloody consequences.

    Oct 16, 2009 | Rating: 4.5/5
  • The Baader-Meinhof Complex is not an easy film to watch; its violence is ugly and brutish. And there's a lot of it.

    Oct 1, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Part thriller, part social history, this tense 2008 drama traces the rise and fall of the Baader-Meinhof gang.

    Sep 25, 2009 | Full Review…
  • It'd be nice to see an American filmmaker commit a similar reckoning with the Watts riots, the Weather Underground, or the Black Power movement, not simply resort to cant and kitsch but to really interpret those moments.

    Sep 25, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • There are some literally killer performances here, most notably Johanna Wokalek as Gudrun.

    Sep 18, 2009 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex)

  • Aug 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jun 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.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Jun 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.
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • Nov 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.
    xGary X Super Reviewer

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