PRINT September 2009


The Baader Meinhof Complex

ULI EDEL’S BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX is a hypercompressed, epic, tile-work rendering of Stefan Aust’s definitive 1985 book of the same name. Aust, before becoming editor of Der Spiegel, covered the activities of the Red Army Faction as a young reporter, from the RAF’s inception in 1970. His exhaustive account begins at the end—with the death of Andreas Baader in his Stammheim Prison cell on October 18, 1977. Edel, director of such films as Christiane F. (1981) and Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989), begins his narrative, on the contrary, before the beginning of the story, with two vignettes establishing Ulrike Meinhof’s dual pre-RAF credentials as haute bourgeois and gifted leftist polemicist. Thus the film opens in May 1967, on the North Sea resort island of Sylt, summer encampment of German celebrities, where Meinhof (Martina Gedeck), star columnist for the monthly konkret, and her husband, Klaus

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