Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

Set in late Sixties/early Seventies West Berlin, this film is mostly factual, with some fiction thrown in as a sealant.

Andreas Baader (a baad, baad man) starts out as no more than a small-time thug with ambition. He plans to overthrow the state - whatever that means - by setting fire to department stores and stealing cars. Occasionally, he will blow up a trashcan. What a scoundrel!

Copy picture

After several visits to the slammer, he decides to go underground and form a terror gang with his loyal girlfriend Meinhof. Their ultimate agenda is to create as much chaos as possible and let the world know that they are against the Vietnam war and for power to the people. Give Rick Mayall from The Young Ones a few AK 47s and a map of Europe and you get the picture.

The film has no narrative, but a huge amount of scenes that should have been left on the cutting room floor. A subplot, involving a state-of-the-art brand new police computer - almost a whole megabyte! My abacus has nothing on it! Nothing! - serves no real purpose. I guess you could say that computer tracking and secret files all began here, but I say it's superfluous. There is no tension, irony or suspense. What we have is 109 minutes of dialogue scenes and set-up. But nothing ever becomes of the set up.

Cops all over Germany are looking for Baader. They run into him a zillion times, but don't realise he's the one. Everywhere he goes, he tries to recruit naïve and impressionable kids to help him in his fight for absolute freedom. Some of them die and some get caught. Perhaps, this signifies the futility of resistance against a fascist regime. Or perhaps it's just a boring film.

Frank Giering plays Baader as a fat, rat-moustached dumpling, desperately in need of an Oprah Winfrey makeover. His choice of wardrobe would make Worzel Gummidge puke and he smokes like 10 industrial chimneys. Altogether, a thoroughly unpleasant character, even without the shooting and plotting.

Director Christopher Roth has been an editor on movies as diverse as Killer Klowns From Outer Space and Crying Freeman. He has plenty of experience but, sadly, decided to shoot this one as yet another wobbly camera, grainy-focused, miserable European docu-drama. Is there any other way a EU film can be crafted? Apparently not.

It's disorientating to read subtitles, which are on screen for two seconds, on a jerky, muddy-colored print and still follow the plot. If you are a subtitle veteran then go ahead and see if it takes your fancy. Don't expect anything new, or original.

In short, Baader couldn't be saader.

Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2002
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German jailbird lashes out at society with a series of uninteresting attacks and confusing exploits.

Director: Christopher Roth

Writer: Moritz Von Uslar

Starring: Frank Giering, Vadim Glowna, Laura Maori Tonke, Birge Schade, Daniel Krauss

Year: 2002

Runtime: 109 minutes

Country: Germany


EIFF 2002

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