This is one of the great German films that made it across the border, even across the big pond as it was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
It tells the captivating true story of a handful of left wing orientated young West Germans who wanted to change the capitalist world for the better…
In 1967, WW2 has been over for 22 years, yet not much seemed to have changed since the days of fascism. In the times of the Vietnam War going on and revolution being in the air, many young Germans were therefore struggling with the fact that their parents took part in the Nazi regime.
Whether their parents were forced to do so under Hitler’s dictatorship (as most people in fact were), doesn’t matter. What matters is that nothing has changed and it needs to be changed now. Most young people were peace-loving hippies, but some became radicalized – and founded the far-left militant group Rote Armee Fraktion (Red Army Faction, or in short: RAF).
When the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, visits West Berlin, the already tense revolution in the air breaks out full-force when the German police and the Shah’s forces attack the peaceful student protesters. In the chaos, student Benno Ohnesorg is shot and killed. This was the starting signal for the organized terrorist group RAF.
Filming took place at many original locations including Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart and the Stammheim Prison in Germany as well as in Rome, Italy where Baader and Ensslin headed to escape their prison sentence.
The scenes of the German terrorists training with Arabian terrorists were shot in Morocco. Prague in Czech Republic was also used hence many buildings and streets in the city still look like they used to look in the Germany of the 1960s and 1970s.
So much for the history. The real-life characters Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Ulrike Meinhof, the main initiators of the RAF, were played beautifully and forcefully by Moritz Bleibtreu, Johanna Wokalek and Martina Gedeck.
I think it’s kind of funny that no matter which role he plays, Moritz Bleibtreu can never fully let go of his Northern German / Hamburg accent. You can always hear it through. But then of course he is a brilliant actor and has definitively done the bold and pretentious real Andreas Baader justice.
And then there is one of my favourite German actors ever: Tom Schilling playing a crazy loner guy who attempts to assassinate the most prominent spokesman of West Berlin’s student movement, Rudi Dutschke, by shooting him at close distance.
My verdict: Revolutionary in every way. Even though it’s not the nicest topic and there are many bloody scenes, it makes you think about many things.
***** 5 out of 5 stars
What do you think? Is this a well-done political drama or are there better ones around? Shout out your opinion in the comments section below!