Petra von Kant is a successful fashion designer -- arrogant, caustic, and self-satisfied. She mistreats Marlene (her secretary, maid, and co-designer). Enter Karin, a 23-year-old beauty who... See full summary »
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Munich, 1955: A sports journalist meets Veronika Voss, an UFA actress who supposedly had an affair with Goebbels. Now declining, Voss is kept by her "kind" doctor, Dr. Katz, supplying her ... See full summary »
"The Silence" is about the emotional distance between two sisters. The younger one is still attractive enough to pick up a lover in a strange city. The older one -- even though she is very ... See full summary »
How do we understand faith and prayer, and what of miracles? August 1925 on a Danish farm. Patriarch Borgen has three sons: Mikkel, a good-hearted agnostic whose wife Inger is pregnant, ... See full summary »
Carl Theodor Dreyer
Emil Hass Christensen,
Preben Lerdorff Rye
Paul Javal is a writer who is hired to make a script for a new movie about Ulysses more commercial, which is to be directed by Fritz Lang and produced by Jeremy Prokosch. But because he let... See full summary »
A man wanders out of the desert after a four year absence. His brother finds him, and together they return to L.A. to reunite the man with his young son. Soon after, he and the boy set out ... See full summary »
Harry Dean Stanton,
A young woman, Karin, has recently returned to the family island after spending some time in a mental hospital. On the island with her is her lonely brother and kind, but increasingly ... See full summary »
Max von Sydow
Frau Kusters is preparing dinner late one seemingly ordinary afternoon in her seemingly ordinary kitchen in Frankfurt, Germany. Mrs. Kusters wants to add canned sausages to the stew, her ... See full summary »
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
This movie follows the life of a young German woman, married to a soldier in the waning days of WWII. Fassbinder has tried to show the gritty life after the end of WWII and the turmoil of the people trapped in its wake. Written by
Neel V Kumar <email@example.com>
'The Marriage of Maria Braun' is German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder's best-known and most financially successful movie and it's not hard to see why: it's a big event, a tour de force. This melodrama tells the story of an audacious, beautiful woman who puts her survival instinct to use during the early post-war era, when capitalist West Germany arose from the ashes. The film begins as she's getting married amidst the chaos of the last day of World War II in 1945, and much of what follows has to do with the peculiar way in which she devotes herself to her absent, yet somehow always present, idealized husband. The character of Maria is fascinating as a person, but it also serves as an allegory for Germany during this period of reconstruction, now generally referred to as the "economic miracle" ("Wirtschaftswunder").
Hanna Shygulla gives a perfect performance as the gorgeous and strong-willed Maria. She and Fassbinder were close and had worked together in many plays and films, including 'The Bitter Tears of Eva Von Kant', in 1972. By the time they made 'The Marriage of Maria Braun' in 1979, four years had passed since their last collaboration, so they both regarded it as a special reunion. To me, the film is a testament of the director's nostalgia and adoration for his diva. He was infamously difficult with many of his actors and actresses, yet is said to have treated Shygulla with a special kind of tenderness, and I believe it shows here.
Fassbinder was openly gay, but married twice. His relationships with his first wife, Ingrid Caven, and Moroccan male lover El Hedi Ben Salem, both important actors in his films, are known to have been especially tempestuous. This pattern of love/hate may reflect on some of the characters in his work. He was accused (perhaps unfairly) by some feminists of being misogynistic and by some gay critics of being homophobic. I haven't watched enough of his films to have an opinion on this. But I sense there's a very particular, mixed energy projected onto the character of Maria Braun, who is both hero and antihero, someone who has an admirable tenacity to overcome adversity, yet is willing to prostitute herself and stop at nothing in order to accomplish her goals. It's this complexity that makes the film interesting. Nothing here is easily spelled out as right or wrong.
'The Marriage of Maria Braun' is the first part of Fassbinder's BRD (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) trilogy, along with 'Veronica Voss' (1982) and 'Lola' (1981), which is made available as a set by the Criterion Collection. ('Veronica Voss' was filmed last, but is meant to be viewed as the second part of the trilogy.)
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