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 »
Unusual gangster story, in which a small-time pimp Franz, who is torn between his mistress and Bruno the gangster sent after him by the syndicate that he has refused to join. Things are ... See full summary »
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Somewhere in the future there is a computer project called Simulacron one of which is able to simulate a full featured reality, when suddenly project leader Henry Vollmer dies. His ... See full summary »
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
French sailor Querelle arrives in Brest and starts frequenting a strange whorehouse. He discovers that his brother Robert is the lover of the lady owner, Lysiane. Here, you can play dice ... See full summary »
A very stylized TV version of the Fassbinder play. The set consists of a few pieces of furniture in front of a large screen on which coastal scenery is back projected. Geesche is a ... See full summary »
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Martha is single, middle-aged, and lives alone in central Berlin. She accepts a male tenant David who is half her age. David is intrigued by her attempts at the dating game, and secretly follows her progress.
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 »
Martha Heyer, a librarian in her thirties (Margit Carstensen), is completely oppressed by her high-strung parents but receives a lot of attention from different men, all of whom she turns down because of her family. After the sudden death of her father (Adrian Hoven) and the suicide attempt of her unstable pill-popping mother (Gisela Fackeldey), she is approached by a handsome engineer named Helmut Salomon (Karlheinz Böhm) and agrees to his marriage proposal. He turns out to be a complete sadist and torments her in various ways, from isolating her from her former life to having her skin burnt in the sun and then roughly having sex with her. Martha doesn't know how to cope with the situation and just takes it all in without knowing how to put her anxiety into words, even though a friendly colleague Mr. Kaiser (Peter Chatel) would be willing to listen. Eventually things escalate dramatically.
The film's outlook of marriage is definitely bleak; besides Martha's private hell, the marriages of her friends are also presented as shallow and dishonest. The question of why Martha is so helpless and unable to defend herself against Helmut goes back to her old life with her overbearing parents: even though she shows signs of sarcasm and emotional detachment from them, she ultimately cannot leave their influence behind the devastating power of upbringing and lifelong submission is one of the main themes of the film.
The technical direction of the story is done brilliantly; the long shots with moving cameras and the use of mirrors in the mise-en-scène are all enjoyable to examine throughout. Especially the spinning shot of Martha and Helmut's first encounter in Italy dizzies the mind in a good way and catches the feel of instant attraction well. Nevertheless, however skilfully presented, at almost two hours the parade of emotional cruelty feels a little too long and gets slightly repetitive towards the end. Over all, the development from the Ingmar Bergman-style family hell to the melodramatic last scenes helps to create a memorable and effective story arc for the tale though, and the actors suit their roles fine, especially the mousy, red-haired Carstensen. At the time of writing this review, I have yet to see many Fassbinder films, but Martha has certainly gotten me enthusiastic about seeing more as soon as possible. I eagerly recommend the film to anyone interested in R.W.F.'s work or the nature of oppressive relationships.
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