Return of the phantom

September 27, 2008

Whilst in the process of finishing my thesis (The terrorist years in Germany and the impact of media created images on the collective memory), a new movie will be in cinemas shortly called »Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex«. Lucky me!

Since I haven not seen the movie I want to say everything with reservations, but just looking at the poster gives an impression what this film focuses on. Regarding the title »Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex«, it is quit clear what will be shown. The movie pictures the development of their members, and how they became as radical as they did. In an interview, the directors claim to concentrate on the images of the brutal actions of the gang  »a lot of pain in crass pictures», rather then the already known images. »I deliberately put the cameras next to the victims so that we can see what they see«, Uli Edel told Focus magazine. He said he wanted to »destroy the myth that has grown up around the RAF.« The main problem with any working up the past of the RAF is, that the actors are much more interesting than the victims. When making a film or writing a book about the RAF, it is always more absorbing to ask, why they did it and why it ended they way it did. Edel and Eichinger say for them it was more important »that they did something, rather then why they did something.« The horrible images of the RAF action are therefore what this movie is all about. »Der Spiegel« says that these are the pictures, that were missing, so far.

What I don’t understand is, why is this movie advertised with cool, gangster style images of the three leading characters? Surely, if one wants to put the focus on their cruel actions, you could find more disturbing images. This for me fits in more with the myth, that surrounds the RAF ever since. In another interview with Stefan Aust, author of the book and script, he claims, that this movie could have only been made now, because it needed a generation to approach this story unemotional. Nevertheless, it will still contribute to the already existing myth and, from my point of view, will not ad much to coming to terms with the history of the RAF. If this movie shifts the focus away from their members towards what they did though I welcome it, and look forward to the upcoming debates.

Frank Schirrmacher, editor of the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, wrote that he found the Baader-Meinhof Komplex »heartbreaking« to watch and added: »This film has the potential to make people see the RAF in an entirely new light.«

I´m very curious.

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