Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex
Gerhard Richter - Gegenüberstellung
The movie has its weaknesses: maybe it's a tad too long; maybe it tries to cover everything that happened, and some aspects are presented poorly. However, I think it has two major merits.
Gerhard Richter - Erhängte
First merit: it tries to take no sides. To show just facts and to leave the conclusions for us.
I said it tries. Does it succeed?
October 18, 1977: Gudrun Esslin after the Death Night
It's difficult to answer. It is hard for a movie to take no sides, at least because young personages always inspire sympathy, even when they are committed to anything in the name of the revolution (whatever that means).
The police chief (played by Bruno Ganz) keeps on repeating that one should firstly understand their reasons, and I know it is true, only the guy says it too many times in the movie to be convincing.
But this is what the movie is trying to do: to understand the guys, to understand their primary reasons, to understand their evolution, in order to give the full account of the facts. Neither absolving, nor condemning, just giving the full account.
Gerhard Richter - Erschossener
And I think here is the second merit of the movie: the three leaders of the group (Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, and Ulrike Meinhof) are exceptionally rendered. Of course, we don't know their real personae; but the movie shows brilliantly three different radical revolutionary typologies.
Andreas Baader is the drop-out who loves the violence per se, while his girlfriend, Gudrun Ensslin, is the fanatic who believes in the necessity of violence: up to the end, beyond morale, normality, common sense. What she hates more is just normality, as she has the acute feeling that normality means stagnation, complacency for injustice, hypocrisy, philistinism.
Ulrike Meinhof (exceptionally played by Martina Gedeck) is the most complex case from all three, and the most tragic: she is not a fanatic - she just agrees to the reasons of fanaticism; the intellectual who gets more and more involved in the game, till there is no more way back.
Gerhard Richter - Tote
Well, and what's the lesson for us? Why should it be a lesson?:) We come to the movie with our sides, we remain within our sides, as it is always.
Perhaps one can find the answer in the iconic canvases of Gerhard Richter: the master created the symbol, the icon for an important chapter of post-war Germany. This chapter of history has to be meditated and understood. Sine ira et studio, with neither hate nor passion. And so this movie (with all its weaknesses) is a necessary one.