Runtime: 150 minutes
Director: Uli Edel
Genre: Action, biography
Starring: Moritz Bleibtreu, Martina Gedeck, Johanna Wokalek
Just one trailer for you all this time; it’s in German but it has English subtitles and it was the best one I could find (there were so many with poor video quality on YouTube):
Here, again, is the summary I got from IMDB: 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. So this is a bit of a historical film, based on real people and real events. I watched this film for the first time at university, because we learnt about the far-left movements that happened in Germany in the post-war generation. If you want to read some more about the RAF (German: Rote Armee Fraktion) then I’ve linked the Wikipedia article here. Again, beware for potential spoilers below. (I’ve tried to be good, I promise!)
Things I liked:
- this film takes a good look at the post-war generation in Germany and in particular, the wave of pro-left sentiment that followed. It’s designed to show us that the RAF didn’t spring up out of nowhere; there was a resentment and shame left over from World War Two and from what the generation before did and this bubbled over into these kinds of attacks.
- Ulrike’s character is the perfect person to follow throughout the film. Although at the beginning she does show an interest in protesting fascism and fighting for left-wing values, there’s never any indication that she wants to be involved beyond her career as a journalist. Our tipping point comes when she makes that decision to follow Baader and Ensslin – and it’s actually after this that she feels like she’s making the more difficult decisions.
- the film doesn’t try to play down the more ‘interesting’ aspects of the lives of the people in the RAF. They’re terrorists, ultimately, so it would be expected that the filmmakers would portray them as bad and everyone else as good – but the film is designed to make us consider both sides. Sure, they seemed young and reckless and perhaps somewhat glamourous, but we see the aftermath of their actions in full detail. It could be more balanced, perhaps, and could deal with more issues, but for a two and a half hour film, it does a good job.
Things I disliked:
- much like Auf der anderen Seite, the timeframe of this film is a bit wobbly. Sometimes it seemed like a few days had passed, but it had in fact been months. This film does have a good frame of reference if you already know a lot about the RAF, but if not, then the time jumps can get a little confusing. I hope this isn’t a German film thing because I’m not sure I can deal with this all month. 😉
- the final half hour or so – I know it’s relevant, because it continues on with the story of the group; and this is the story of the RAF as a whole, not just about Baader, Meinhof and Ensslin – but it gets a little dull, a little old. I think this is maybe the point; the next generation of fighters didn’t have the original impact of the first generation, but it seems to drag a little. I had already seen this film before I watched it to write this post, but I really found it difficult to keep paying attention at this point.
Now, unlike Auf der anderen Seite, I’m not sure I have a favourite scene in this film, though I do think the part where the RAF members are at the training camp is interesting. I do still have a favourite quote, however, courtesy of Ulrike Meinhof:
Wirft man einen Stein, so ist das eine strafbare Handlung. Werden tausend Steine geworfen, ist das eine politische Aktion. Zündet man ein Auto an, ist das eine strafbare Handlung, werden hunderte Autos angezündet, ist das eine politische Aktion.
If you throw a stone, then that is a punishable offence. If thousands of stones are thrown, then it is a political action. If you set a car on fire, then that is a punishable offence; if hundreds of cars are set on fire, it is a political action.
This film I’d give a 7.5/10. It’s good – it’s really good – and it’s a film about German history that doesn’t directly deal with World War Two, so it’s different as well. My problem is just that it’s long and, for me, it begins to dwindle a lot at the end. However, I’d definitely say it’s worth a watch, particularly if you are interested in finding out more about what happened in Germany post-war, or if you just like action/crime films.
(A to Z Challenge note: I got back from my Easter Break yesterday, so I’ve been to work and written this post today – I’m trying to get on top of everything. However, once I finish work tomorrow I’m free for the weekend – yay! – so then I’ll be visiting blogs avidly. I’m very excited. I just don’t want anyone to think I’m out of the challenge – I’m not – I just need a little time to catch up. Thank you to everyone who’s commented so far on my other post; and to everyone who may comment on this one. I know mine aren’t the shortest – I’m trying to make them shorter, but it’s not working – so I appreciate each and everyone of you who makes it through!)