Sunday, May 17, 2009

Well you know...

I enjoy the fact that most Saturdays one can watch a feature film at Gloucester Guildhall at two of the clock in the afternoon. This is most civilised and, importantly, it means that ageing characters like myself are less likely to doze off during the second reel. I note that soon one will be able to see Guildhall films at 10.45am for a fiver. The deal includes a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake. If that doesn’t put a spring in the stride of all hepcats in the shire then I don’t know what will.

Anyhow, S and I sauntered to the above cinema this afternoon for a screening of The Baader Meinhof Complex, a historical drama examining the activities of the German terrorist group (also known as the Red Army Faction) during the late 1960s and 1970s. This was an uncompromising and hard-hitting production which demonstrated rather graphically the deadly deeds carried out by the gang and focussed on key members’ imprisonment and trial. The early scenes deal intelligently with the radicalisation of that era’s youth. Against a backdrop of Vietnam, Nixon, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, it appears that the Iranian Shah’s Berlin visit and resultant violent demonstrations combine to form a major catalyst for Germany’s revolutionary young to consider brutal means to bring about change. I must admit the two and a half hours of the feature flew by; I was fascinated to learn plenty about events that were merely fuzzy news items during my childhood. This is not a criticism but with so many key events (the kidnapping and murder of industrialist Hanns Martin Schleyer, a spate of bank robberies, the Stockholm embassy siege etc.) and personalities (er, Baader and, er, Meinhof inter alia) to reconstruct and portray there is a sense that the narrative spreads itself a touch too thinly. I would like to have learnt more about fringe characters and discovered more information about the planning and aftermath of key operations. Overall, this was a absorbing glimpse into the mind of the terrorist and the range of dispositions, from ruthless and cold to irrational and insecure to be found in these communities and gangs. File under ‘disturbing yet thought-provoking’.

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