The Baader-Mainhof Komplex a film based upon the book of the same name by Stefan Aust. It looks in detail at the Rote Armee Fraktion, a west German Marxist guerrilla group active in the 1970’s throughout Germany and other parts of Europe.
The group gained notoriety after their leader Andreas Baader was arrested and subsequently rescued by other members of the group. They did this with the assistance of Ulrike Meinhoff, a well know magazine columnist for the magazine Konkret.
The film begins with a juxtaposition of the liberal, well to do lifestyle of Meinhof reading an open letter to Sofia wife of the Iranian Shah and a demonstration against the visit of the Shah and his wife to Berlin.The demonstration against the arrival of the Shah and his wife turns ugly when a large group of Iranian nationalists attack the demonstration with staves leaving people bloody and injured as the German police look on. As people call upon the police to stop the violence the police wade in smacking protesters heads and bloody carnage ensues with police on horseback riding down students on the streets of west Berlin.
This demonstration is historically important as it culminated with the shooting of Benno Ohnesorg by a plain clothes policeman. This is an important beginning to the film as it puts into context the brutal reaction of the conservative establishment to the rebellion of a generation that held its elders responsible for the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime.
Equally important is the juxtaposition with the liberal ‘right on’ lifestyle of Ulrike Meinhof who reads her letter aloud to a garden party of the liberal elite whilst on the streets blood is spilt. This sets up right from the beginning what would become a source of tension between the Meinhof and some of the erstwhile revolutionaries she was to join.
This film treats its subject matter with a great deal of care and where it does not try and glorify the violence of the RAF it equally displays the horrors of American imperialism that they ere a reaction to. The RAF were part of a tradition of Marxist/Maoist revolutionary groups that operated and assisted one another world wide in a battle against American imperialism and this is handled well also with the groups visit to a Jordanian training camp where their European sexual liberation clashes with the Islamic mores of their hosts.
As well as being an honest historical look at the phenomenon that was the RAF this film also works well as an action movie with gun battles a plenty and daring acts of proletarian expropriation. It also helps that all the actors cast in the various roles were extremely pretty, in real life they weren’t all that bad looking either. 🙂
From the beginning of this movie on the blood soaked streets of West Berlin to the taking of their own lives in order to prevent the state gaining the satisfaction of jailing them this film has to be seen.