The Baader Meinhof Complex, Uli Edel (2008)

Vague revolutionary sentiment in late 60’s America begat the bloody praxis of the Weather Underground in the early 70’s; similar sentiments in the FRG in the late 60’s begat the Red Army Faction, better known as the Baader Meinhof gang. (Are there even any old pinkos still breathing and capable of a withering critique of that gross oversimplification right there? I had a geriatric Trotskyist neighbor in Madison fifteen years ago who could have spent an entire pot of bad coffee parsing the ideological differences between John Jacobs and Ulrike Meinhof, but he’s got to have gone to his atheist reward by now.) These were the days when students not only protested, but also wrote long tortured Gramsci-inspired treatises and read them to each other to get fired up to rob banks and blow up police stations. The RAF lasted a lot longer than the Weathermen did, harrying German officialdom throughout the 70’s and into the 80’s. Anyway, here’s a movie about them, and it’s really good. It’s long — 150 minutes — which is a good thing, because it needs room to do both the exciting part, where the beautiful young people fuck and drink and howl against injustice, and the enervating part, where everyone goes gray and mad and to jail. I don’t know enough of the history to say how strictly educational the movie is, in a documentary sense, but it definitely conveys a strong and believable sense of the zeitgeist.

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