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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 lead Martha to believe Helmut might be trying to kill her.

Writer:

Cornell Woolrich (story "For the Rest of Her Life")
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Margit Carstensen ... Martha Salomon, née Heyer
Karlheinz Böhm ... Helmut Salomon
Barbara Valentin ... Marianne
Peter Chatel ... Kaiser
Gisela Fackeldey Gisela Fackeldey ... Mother Heyer
Adrian Hoven ... Father Heyer
Ortrud Beginnen Ortrud Beginnen ... Erna
Wolfgang Schenck ... Meister
Günter Lamprecht Günter Lamprecht ... Dr. Herbert Salomon
El Hedi ben Salem ... Hotel guest
Rudolf Lenz Rudolf Lenz ... Porter
Kurt Raab ... Secretary - German embassy
Elma Karlowa ... Waitress
Heide Simon Heide Simon ... Nurse
Lilo Pempeit Lilo Pempeit ... (as Lieselotte Eder)
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Storyline

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 K Wedgwood

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

West Germany

Language:

German | Italian

Release Date:

28 May 1974 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Gymni brosta sto dolofono See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

DEM 500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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. Nevetheless Woolrich got a writing-credit. The first German screening of a restored edition was in November 1997. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Martha Salomon, née Heyer: Yes, father, I'm coming down in a minute. No, father, I'm in the bath now. I'm going later.
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Connections

Featured in Fassbinder in Hollywood (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
Composed by Max Bruch
Performed by Isaac Stern
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User Reviews

 
The Expropriated Consciousness
10 April 2008 | by hasoschSee all my reviews

"Martha" is part of a series of movies by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, in which he treated different kinds of decrease of mind. In "Merchant of the four seasons" (1972), Fassbinder portrayed the former police officer Hans Epp whose carrier is ruined by a prostitute, whose girl-friend is unreachable for him and whose wife shows no affection to him. After a long time in depression, interrupted by alcohol, he decides to kill himself. In "Martha" (1975), a young woman, hardly released out of the hands of her passed away father, marries a brutal and psychopathic engineer who isolates her from her family, forces her to quit her job, imprisons her in their apartment, cuts down the telephone connection and controls her money. He seems to have reached his goal when Martha, after trying to escape with one of her coworkers, has an accident that paralyzes her, letting her in a wheelchair. In "Fear of Fear" (1975), housewife Margot, pregnant with her second child, starts to suffer from hallucinations while neither her husband nor her mother- and sister-in-law are willing to listen to her. After a physician prescribes her Valium, she increases the dose. When she cannot get enough anymore, she helps herself with alcohol. After having been "healed" in a psychiatric clinic, from which she is released under the promise to take regularly her medication, she is typing addresses on envelopes, pretending to be happy.

All of these movies by Fassbinder to which also belong, for instance, "Why does Herr R. run amok" (1970), "In a year with 13 moons" (1978), "Despair" (1978), "Veronika Voss" (1982) and certain episodes of "Berlin Alexanderplatz" (1980), have in common that what turns a human insane is, according to Fassbinder, basically the society in which he or she lives. Neither Hans Epp, nor Martha nor Margot have an emotional support from their family. Let alone by their closest relatives, these individuals are inclined to make false decisions, that lead to decrease of mind and often to suicide. Although Fassbinder repeatedly pretended not to be an intellectual, it is important to point out that we know from the several interviews he gave as well as from his theoretic studies that he was well familiar with the works of the Frankfurt School around Adorno, Horkheimer and Habermas as well as with the psychiatry of Lacan. Therefore, I ask everybody who watches "Martha" to have a close look at the book she is reading in the scene where she sits on the balcony of the hotel in which she stays during her honeymoon. The title of this book is "Das enteignete Bewusstsein", written by Hans Kilian, a sociologists from the Frankfurt School, and appeared in 1971. It turns out that the "expropriated consciousness" – a process committed in society - is the real reason that is responsible for the decline of Hans Epp, Martha, Margot, Peter, Herr R., Erwin/Elvira, Hermann Hermann, Veronika Voss, Hans Biberkopf and many others whose fate has not been subject of any film.


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