Das Schleyerband : eine videodokumentation
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“The Schleyer tape” is a compilation of television and news footage comprising two hours of media accounts regarding the infamous Baader-Meinhof gang. Bruch’s material begins with the September 1977 kidnapping of Hanns-Martin Schleyer and the dramatic news reportage from the scene of the car accident in Cologne where Schleyer was abducted. Bruch then proceeds to chronologically relay footage from official press conferences, talkshow speculation, public interviews and the news, giving a broad and detailed account of the events leading up to the final downfall of the left-wing terrorist Red Army Faction and group suicide of Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof and other RAF leaders. Bruch’s archive provides an incredible picture of the enormous impact that the…RAF created on the German and international public at the time. Intense fear, speculation and suspicion surrounded the highly pressurised political situation and the Marxist ideologies sweeping the leftist student movement. By largely leaving the footage unmanipulated, Bruch reflects the stunned reaction of artists in light of the reality faced at the time. One of the only interventions made is at the point of footage released by the RAF of the hostage Schleyer held in custody before the RAF emblem of a star and machine gun. The commentator’s voice is interrupted to become an extended high-pitched tone of radio squeal, a reflection of the amplifying effect that mass media had upon the events. Bruch contrasts this with short episodes from other aspects of popular culture: a fashion commercial advertising lipstick, images of a space shuttle launch, disco shows and John Lennon’s song “Working Class Hero”. The juxtaposition results in a shocking portrayal of the social, political and cultural climate of the late 70’s, one in which all these ‘triumphs' of modern civilisation leave Bruch quite clearly shaken and virtually speechless.
(Elaine W. Ho)