After the death of her abusive father, the lonely librarian Martha marries an equally vile businessman - Helmut. The cruel and torturous nature of their relationship leads Martha to believe Helmut might be trying to kill her.
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 right holders 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. Nevertheless Woolrich got a writing-credit. The first German screening of a restored edition was in November 1997. See more »
Good, nearly great Fassbinder about an adult woman who passes from the care of her controlling parents to the even tighter control of a bizarre husband. Margit Carstensen plays the woman and Karlheinz Böhm (whom you probably remember as the protagonist of Michael Powell's Peeping Tom) the husband. This is one of Fassbinder's better films. Jonathan Rosenbaum, who doesn't seem to be much of a Fassbinder enthusiast, cites it as his very favorite. It would rank as one of my favorites, too, but for a couple of reasons. It kind of makes its point fairly early on, especially after the marriage takes place. Then it gets a tad repetitive, and goes on for nearly two hours. The next year, Fassbinder made an even better film dealing with similar themes called Fear of Fear, which also starred Margit Carstensen. Carstensen's performance is exceptional in Martha (and just as good in Fear of Fear), and Böhm is quite good, too.
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