Sunday, August 02, 2009
German Cinema never ceases to fascinate me. It is not merely style or the substance, but the sheer honesty with which they portray the darker shades of their past, that mesmerizes me. With Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, they take on another gory period of their recent history and turn that into an absorbing cinema.
No I am not exactly reviewing this film. For those who have never heard of this one before, it is about the heydays of Red Army Faction (RAF), a violent leftist terrorist group in Germany that existed during the late 60’s & 70’s. As I found out later on (through wiki obviously), most of the incidents including assassinations, encounters and hijacks depicted in the film are honestly portrayed without much fictionalization. I also noticed that most actors have striking resemblance with the characters they were playing. Such authenticity make the proceedings much more engrossing and chilling!
Just like any other regular European fiesta, this one also comes with a generous serving of casual and nonchalant nudity (which I have always enjoyed being a victim of conservative Indian society). Nevertheless, that is not the point I am trying to make. Through the entire course of the film I just could not help relating those German anarchists to Indian Naxalites, regional terrorists and ilk. It is simply not the ideology that is similar. Right from the reckless vandalism to the ultimate tragic culmination, everything seemed so familiar and of course so futile!
RAF gained ground protesting the US involvement in Vietnam, Palestine & other such issues. Despite their seemingly generous intentions, those unruly youngsters embarked on a path of mass arson, bomb blasts, kidnappings and ambushes. They also enjoyed a degree of mass support initially which withered away even faster than their ammunition.
Such radical groups world over have an identical life-cycle: A bunch of hot blooded youngsters with larger than life ideologies and nearly zero (or probably negative) common sense firing at imaginary enemies and finally hurting their own people!
The RAF was wiped out and the members met with tragic ends. It might be in poor taste to say this, but that was in fact very fortunate for Europe. If we look at all the indigenous groups operating in India, they have had a similar beginning and metamorphosis. But they did not die their natural death, probably because of sheer demographic as well as economic diversity of the nation that kept fueling separatist as well as communist ambitions or probably because of sheer spinelessness of the state machinery.
It is not that those guys never had a point. But if we look at them now, it is evident that they have lost that sole point to justify themselves. This is what happens when ideology becomes livelihood and revolution becomes your 9 to 5 job that you can’t resign from.
Coming back to the film, it doesn’t make any judgments. It just shows the history as it is. But still the message comes out loud and clear. The futility of misplaced idealism has been portrayed with honest brutality. Director Uli Edel, whose Hollywood misadventure Body of Evidence was one of the worst movies I ever saw, does deserve credit for this one.