Compelling complexity


Kimberley Foy is gripped by the dark side of socialism, as The Baader Meinhof Complex takes an uncomfortable hold…


Yikes! I whispered this word to myself as I left the screening of the controversial The Baader Meinhof Complex. Based on real events, the film chronicles the birth and violent exploits of the RAF (Red Army) wing terrorist group that was formed during the 1970s in West Germany.

Dissatisfaction with capitalism by workers and students alike was boiling over in countless other nations in addition to West Germany, and this provides the backdrop to the film, along with the anger of the new generations at the ineffective manner in which Nazi fascism was being eroded by a conservative government, led to violence and terrorism.

This is vividly seen when the film attempts to explain and justify the transformation of our main character, Ulrike Meinhof, from respectable journalist with student sympathies to Left wing murderer.

Director Uli Edel succeeds in humanising the now infamous leaders of the RAF but Meinhof’s own transition, while initially seeming realistic, becomes increasingly implausible and is ultimately too far fetched to garner any real credibility.

That aside, The Baader Meinhof Complex is utterly compelling. The audience is, from the word go, subjected to heightened levels of tension and extreme, shocking violence.

As it progresses though, the story of the RAF presented here becomes gradually more uncomfortable, and though intended as a means of allowing us to identify with the characters, it is impossible to condone the actions being glorified on screen. Wherever your sympathies lie, this film will get you thinking for hours afterwards.