Baader-Meinhof Komplications

This movie—indeed, the entire premise of revolutionary totalitarian movements—is probably best summed up by The Boy, who about 45 minutes (or approximately 5% of the total length) into the movie leaned over and asked, “What is it they’re fighting for?”

In fact, this movie feels so accurate, that one wonders whether it might not be used later on in the century by historians marveling that any group of people so stupid manage to survive. (Assuming, of course, we do manage to survive.)

The Baader-Meinhof Komplex is a German movie (the most expensive ever made at $20M euros?) about the Red Army Faction that operated primarily in the ‘70s in Germany. It covers about ten years of their activities, which include such socially advancing things as setting fire to a department store, robbing banks and blowing up newsrooms. And, at two-and-a-half hours long (in its pared down US version), it, uh…

What was I saying?

Oh, right. One-hundred-and-fifty-freaking-minutes of near uninterrupted idiocy. I read one review that said the movie doesn’t take a judgmental stance—which I’d agree with—and so gives you some room to sympathize with the characters—which I don’t agree with at all.

At one point, these spoiled Westerners who have been randomly destroying, killing and stealing go to a Palestinian Terrorist training camp and I actually felt sorry for the Palestinian terrorists. I mean, really sorry. I kept hoping they’d shoot the SOBs.

For example, the titular Meinhof at one point agrees to let her (pre-teen) daughters be thrown into a refugee camp. This, I guess, shows the completion of her transformation from bourgeois to radical.

The authorities are similarly clueless, with the one expert on urban terrorism constantly trying to figure out “the root causes”. These guys get away with stuff for years, and once behind bars, spontaneously formed cells of idiocy continue to do stupid stuff in their name.

And, if I may borrow from South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, “What the f*ck is wrong with German people?” In particular, these—I’m sorry, I’m having trouble writing this without swearing.

What I’m getting at is that a significant percentage of the German population apparently supported these people. Worse, their capture was followed by years of navel-gazing by the courts, and a jail setup with all of them together that reminds one of nothing so much as “Hogan’s Heroes”, with all of them passing messages to the outside and stuff.

Look, people, we had morons who robbed banks and shot up cops here in America, too! We even made folk heroes out of ’em—though we had the excuse at least of being in dire economic straits. But when the state caught ’em, the state killed ’em. (In fact, sometimes the state killed ’em rather than catching them, because they knew they weren’t really all that good at catching, keeping and convicting.)

OK, sometimes we elected their friends President. But that’s complicated.

The only reason this is of interest—and maybe why I started to lose interest around the 100-minute-mark—is that these thugs masked their wanton brutality in political trappings. So determined were they not to allow the sort of fascist horrors that occurred under the Nazis, they blew stuff up and killed people to allow the sort of horrors that occur under communism.

The movie spends all its time on their activities (pre- and post-jail) and never looks at the question of how can something so obviously stupid be supported enough to cause such incredible destructiveness.

At one point, the Germans shut down the borders to do a countrywide dragnet to catch them! Our heroes are solemnly watching this, allowing how this confirms Baader’s idea that the country would turn into a police state. O, Irony!

I mean, honestly. I’m sure the people who lived it thought it was very exciting. An exciting time of change. But the only reason they could possibly think that is decades of a successful information war by communists, and a no-enemies-to-the-left attitude carefully fostered.

So, for me the movie ran out of steam. Well acted, well directed, well produced, and ultimately feeling like a waste of celluloid. (I have that reaction to Raging Bull, though, so your mileage may vary.)

Or as The Boy put it, “Hovercat is not amused.” These kids today with their internets and roflcats.

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