A single woman in her early thirties, Martha (Margit Carstensen) is on vacation with her father in Rome when he has a heart attack and falls down dead. She reacts rather indifferently and ... See full summary »
A single woman in her early thirties, Martha (Margit Carstensen) is on vacation with her father in Rome when he has a heart attack and falls down dead. She reacts rather indifferently and returns home to her highly-strung mother and begins to new era of her life taking care of a completely ungrateful and insulting mother (declining an offer of marriage from her boss). After a barrage of verbal abuse and offensive remarks from her mother who see's her as an 'ugly old spinster' she accepts a proposal of marriage from an equally insulting and disrespectful man, Helmuth. They honeymoon in Italy. While there Helmuth resigns Martha from the job that she loves, sends her mother to a mental institution, and lets his wife get horribly burnt in the sun while sleeping, then painfully rapes her. Martha gets back to Germany to find that Helmuth has rented them a new house, and she will not be able to return to her old home even to collect any of her things, which he says must be left behind her. ... Written by
Because of legal reasons, the film wasn't shown for over 20 Years. Cornell Woolrich claimed that the film has a lot similarities to one of his novels. Fassbinder replied, that he first read the story after filming was complete. Nevetheless Woolrich got a writing-credit, and after his death they were able to clear the rights. The first German screening of a restored edition was in November 1997. See more »
a study about how to make someone dependent (exaggerated)
Two days ago I have seen this movie. Lead actor Karlheinz Boehm and famous filmmaker Volker Schloendorff were present in the audience, and then discussed it after the screening. This was part of (or spontaneously turned into) a fund-raising effort for the humanitarian organization that K.H. Boehm founded.
Boehm said that Fassbinder was an expert or at least naturally gifted in judging people. In the discussion it was also mentioned that in his theater group at that time he had also built a network of dependencies. Boehm was very impressed by a quote from Fassbinder, saying approximately: In general you have to exaggerate something to unleash the full power and achieve maximum artistic effect, however it is important to do it correctly (do not exaggerate too much). Here this principle has been applied to demonstrate the (one-sided) struggle for power and dominance in a marriage. At the beginning the husband is very male, that is outspoken, direct, almost blunt. Martha seems to be in love for quite a while. Later, the requests of the dominant, violent husband become increasingly over the top, so that watching the sadist makes you feel uneasy. The same holds for Marthas friends and relatives which are unable to help or, with the exception of Herr Kaiser, even realize the truth about Marthas personality being gradually ruined. This is criticism of an emotionally degraded society.
However, from a aesthetic standpoint, camera and light are marvelous. The set locations (typical for wealthy people) have also been carefully selected and are amazing in their false, pompous colorfulness. In places, there is also quite a bit of black humor mixed in, and at the beginning it seemed like a mystery story (the black guy chasing Martha)or a love story.
Aside from that , the movie also reminded me of a 1950s Bergman marriage movie. Worth seeing.
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